Describing my middle son has always been easy for me. He has a good amount of healthy determination. He is a problem solver and loves a physical challenge. When he’s with peers he watches them for a bit and then picks a good one to become friends with. He’s an inventor and a builder. He’s sensitive and compassionate.
And we’ve just figured out that he’s dyslexic.
While I don’t think his dyslexia is severe, it consistently gets in his way: he talked late, he uses nebulous words like “things” and “stuff” when he tries to describe things, spelling is tough, and reading has been a very slow going process.
After reading up on this learning disability I have found out many things about its inner workings. But what’s really been made clear to me is not the severity of my son’s weaknesses but the abundance of his strengths. I’m learning that he relies heavily on context in order to understand meaning. I’m also learning that this applies to more than just words.
He understands his entire world by noting its context. He solves problems by considering the situation he’s in and calling upon his prior knowledge. He chooses friends by first noting their character. He knows how to serve others by picking up on their emotional cues. He can even find all the lost things in our house just by paying close attention to his environment. These traits demonstrate his genius ability to create sense and purpose out of the world in ways that don’t require reading. However, when it does come time to read, he perseveres through it just like any other problem he encounters, by fitting together everything he knows until it all makes sense.
I am amazed at the remarkable strengths this “disability” brings out in him – intuitiveness, creativity, and empathy among them. This new knowledge about my son doesn’t disappoint me in the slightest because I’m confident he has all the skills he’ll need to create a purposeful, productive and fulfilling life in the years ahead. We’ll just cheer him on no matter how long it takes him to get there.