by Ashley Roberts
Living in this world is hard.
Our kids struggle and as parents it is almost impossible to watch, but watch we do. We do not want our kids to suffer, and educationally they suffer. They cry and scream and throw things and get sick and suffer from anxiety, depression and PTSD.
Because of this we fight against an educational institution that does not want to teach our children. If dyslexia is acknowledged, and that's a big IF, goals are set inappropriately low, if Special Education is even offered, essentially keeping our kids functionally illiterate.
We must educate ourselves in the #ScienceOfReading and #StructuredLiteracy. We must take a deep dive into the laws that comprise 504 and IDEA. We must stand against tidal waves of denial and keep charging forward.
We must tolerate being crushed by those waves, but find the strength to stand back up and keep fighting.
Why? Because our children deserve it.
We study, plan, strategize, educate ourselves, teach our kids ourselves or hire tutors or both, we lose sleep, hold our children, pray, cry, beg, anything and everything to help our children. We have no shame and are willing to do anything to ensure our children are educated and are able to define their lives as they see fit so they can hope to fulfill their dreams.
Enter social media.
Within our own community, it warms my heart to see people lifting each other up, supporting one another, providing good advice and support, but as a community, this is less frequent than it should be and in general we do not do a good job supporting one another. Time and time again I see comments from one person to another that is riddled with ridicule, rudeness, shaming, and / or condescension.
Outside of our community we stand against the voices of educators who are entrenched in #BalancedLiteracy, fighting against the #ScienceOfReading, pushing hard against it shouting, "PHONICS IS BORING!" all the while missing the whole point on what the #ScienceOfReading actually says.
People who willingly stand up and try to educate are challenged asking what they're selling, who they're trying to promote, what book they're trying to push, what Podcast they're trying to get people to listen to; again, all the while missing the point.
Even on our page we receive comments and messages about how wrong we are about #Dyslexia and reading. Some of these comments and messages are respectful, but most are not.
Here's the thing...
Fighting for your child's right to an education is a thankless job, and it is draining.
Advocating on social media, whether that's on one's own wall, on a group or page whether you are the admin or not, but whomever you may be, standing up for #Dyslexia and the #ScienceOfReading is more often than not met with resistance, and that is draining.
Seeking help on a social media support group can be met with a lack of kindness, respect and support, and those encounters are draining.
We talk about finding your circle and leaning on them and that's SOOOO important. Your circle is who will lift you up when you've fallen, but as a community we need to understand that everyone out there, everyone posting, commenting, asking, seeking, they're all just a mom or a dad looking at their child, trying to help them, and these people are standing there with empty cups.
As parents we are drained and in this life we are giving all that we are, all that we have, and no one is ever going to thank us, which is perfectly fine, but we're standing here with empty cups and that has to change.
Rudeness, condescension, shaming, ridicule suck away the meager dew drops still remaining in those empty cups, and what's left? An even further drained parent who has no choice but to keep putting one foot in front of another because the life of their child depends on them never quitting. It is further isolation in an already isolating world and that makes them an island alone.
As parents we are equally capable of falling into anxiety and depression and given the level of resistance met on this path, PTSD.
Don't believe me? Read the works of Rick Lavoie.
But it takes so little to fill another's cup, to create community, to end the isolation and the engender strength.
Kindness costs nothing. Support costs nothing.
In this community, strive to be the person who is constantly seeking to fill the cups of others. Seek to lift others up. Be kind. Offer support. Share wisdom. When you offer advice think of the voice in which it is delivered.
I don't care if you are the greatest dyslexia expert in the world, if what you offer isn't of service, isn't kind, then ask yourself how helpful are you really being?
Yes, a lot of what we must face is ugly and sometimes people need serious wake up calls, but does that have to be done with a slap in the face?
It is possible to deliver tough love with a frame of, "I know this is overwhelming and hard, but you can do this."
The tidal waves are monstrous and sweep too many out to sea. Ask yourself if you want to be a part of the tidal wave or a part of the force that is standing against it, holding the hand of the person next to you.
We at The Dyslexia Initiative are here to fill your cups. We intend to fill your cups by being supportive, offering advice with kindness and respect, helping to educate and through education, empower you. And we hope that inspires you to help others. We are here to be a force for change and we will achieve great things.
We want everyone to understand the critical importance of the #ScienceOfReading and reinstate proper reading instruction into every school in this country, permanently. We want to empower parents and educate schools so that our current children are not left behind, but educated and enabled to be whomever they choose to be. We want to help our adult dyslexia community find the support they need for whatever they may need. We want to end the vicious cycle that has impacted too many generations, and create real change.
This won't be easy, but we are never going to give up.
Be a force for change, but in all things, first and foremost, seek to fill the cups of the parents around you seeking help, a listening ear, a guiding hand, a friend on this journey.
You were once that person, and who knows, maybe your cup is still empty too.
Be the change. Be kind. Be the #DyslexiaRevolution.