Finding out, managing the learning disability my child is living with
Behind every successful dyslexic is an invested and persistent parent. Parents of dyslexic children are hit early and hard with the reality that almost everything to do with learning in the early grades is particularly difficult for their children.
Worse still, it is not a condition many parents are aware of. Some term their children slow learners, while others blame schools for the seemingly slow development.
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability in reading, with children showing trouble in reading, with spelling, writing and calculating maths.
Jerioth Nyambura, 43, is a mother of three—a son aged 18 and two daughters aged 13 and nine.
Her 13-year-old daughter, Hellen Muthoni, who is currently in Class Six is dyslexic.
Nyambura says finding out her child had dyslexia was tough, as they quite didn’t understand the condition at first.
“At age six, she was hyperactive. She didn’t want any loud noise and had difficulties reading. Her handwriting was okay, though she would write big letters.
I had tried on several occasions to visit several medical specialists, including a neurosurgeon whom we would visit twice a month.
She was given some tablets to reduce her hyperactivity, which were not sold over the counter, but only with a doctor’s prescription,” she says.
At nine years old, while in class two, Hellen was diagnosed with dyslexia.
“At first, it was tough handling her because I had little knowledge about the condition, but now all is well as I have learnt a lot about dyslexia after joining several support groups and met with parents who have children with the same condition,” she says.
Nyambura had to enroll her daughter in a school that suits her needs.
“She does not like to be overloaded with too much homework as reading difficult words normally stresses her. In her first school, a regular one, she was lucky because she was treated well despite her condition.
Most students liked her. However, I had to transfer her to another school because I wanted her to interact with children with the same condition.
I am glad that she met with other students who are very supportive of each other and understand each other in their ways of communication and skills. The teachers also handle her very well,” Nyambura explains
The worst challenge she has faced as she brings up her daughter is stigma from the society.
“Sometimes, people laugh at her because of her slow pace while others insult her despite her innocence. I feel so low when this happens and sometimes, I decide that it’s best if she remains indoors. But still, others get to understand her and are very friendly,” laments Nyambura.
Hellen’s siblings have remained supportive.
Shower of love
“They understand everything that goes on in her life and always offer a helping hand whenever she is stuck,” says Nyambura.
Nyambura strives to love all her children equally, understand their different needs and show them the right way to be independent and adhere to Godly teachings.
“As a parent, while taking care of your children, you need to understand each one of them and support them to the fullest. Once you follow every milestone they make, you will enjoy motherhood,” she says.
As a member of Decoding Dyslexia Kenya, a support group where her daughter goes to school, Nyambura says she has been able to understand more about dyslexia as they share their journey together on raising their kids. She is also a member of Dyslexia Organisation of Kenya.
For every parent with a dyslexic child, it is worth noting that dyslexics are usually talented in art, drama, music, mechanics, storytelling, sales, business, and building and designing.
The problems that prevent learning can be corrected, not through drilling, but by establishing a mental focusing tool that helps to bring their minds back on track when disorientation occurs.
“Despite the condition of your child, as a parent, shower them with much love and care. Don’t despair, but trust in the Lord for everything happens with a purpose,” says Nyambura.