I've been diagnosed, so what next?
So you've been assessed and found out that your concerns were real and that you do indeed have dyslexia.
What now? How does this change things?
A report from a good psychologist or specialist teacher should include a list of practical and theoretical recommendations which are tailor made to your situation, and it is preferable (and considered good practice) for the centre or assessor to offer you some time for a consultation to explain the nature of your dyslexia and what the report means. To get the most of this time, it helps if you have been able to read through the report and jot down the main questions you have.
The question I am most frequently asked is, 'So I have dyslexia, what do I do now?'
Then there's the issue of whether or not you tell people, and how? This varies from individual to individual, according to your situation. It may be that you are in primary school in a very nurturing environment where it may be easier for parents and teachers to have a direct meeting to discuss the report. Or perhaps you are in a secondary school with a high awareness of different learning styles and specific learning difficulties. Often the teachers at schools will have been involved in the assessment process, providing supplementary information and observations which supplement the assessment.
However, sometimes this isn't the case, and sometimes dyslexia is not detected until much later on when attending college or University. This can be a much more difficult time to share your diagnosis, due to more distant tutor / student relationships which may make you feel less supported. You may also have friends who may have strong feelings about such issues and may not even be as supportive as you hope. Perhaps you also feel less confident about yourself after years of struggling with reading and writing and not knowing why you feel so 'different'.
There are helpful strategies that you could try:
- Make sure you use the post assessment consultation time to discuss with your assessor. Even if time has lapsed, it is worth contacting them to see if they will still see you. Ask them questions and make sure you understand the report and recommendations.
- Speak to your school / college SENCO or inclusion manager - this is the person who co-ordinates the provision for anyone with learning difficulties and ensures they can access their lessons / tutorials and are supported. They will be able to set up a meeting with your tutor and help to explain how your dyslexia affects you specifically according to your report. They may also be able to suggest strategies that teachers can use to make their lessons more inclusive and accessible to you, such as printing notes in advance for you to annotate rather than having to listen and write at the same time, or maybe you can record your lectures to listen to again later. Teachers will need to know that you have dyslexia if they are to be able to differentiate their lessons and make them accessible for you. Parent Partnership provide a service to help parents and schools decide the best support for the learner and will come into school to help talk to the teachers / SENCO.
- Find out if your school / college runs a student support session where you can discuss the implications of your dyslexia / SpLD with others and gain strength from others in similar positions. Remember, dyslexia is believed to affect as many as 1 in 10 people so there will be several others in your class / year with dyslexia.
- Read about dyslexia - there are several authors who write about dyslexia from different perspectives; the child's, the student's the parent's and the teacher's. Many of these are written in dyslexia-friendly ways.
- There are many charitable support groups that support people with dyslexia with coffee mornings / dyslexia awareness presentations and free advice and literature. It may be worth contacting your nearest centre and asking for specific advice or information. Some groups also run free surgeries where you can visit and have a half-hour free consultation to gain information and some specific advice about what to do next in your situation.
Whatever you decide to do next, remember that dyslexia is a profile of strengths as well as weaknesses. Don't forget to look at what you are good at, and use these strengths to enhance your life. Many people with dyslexia go on to lead very happy, fulfilled lives.