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Coping with Dyslexia and THE RULE BOOK by Sarah Adams

Cover of The Rule Book by Sarah Adams, used as a teaching tool for coping with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.

Other kids teased Derek when he read out loud. At home, he was unfavorably compared to his sister Ginny, who got straight A’s. The adults in Derek’s life assumed he was a lazy goof-off who wasn’t trying. In High School, Derek started playing football and was a natural. His grades were barely passing but it didn’t matter because Derek’s future was clear: he would be a football star.


Derek’s core belief was that he was an amazing football player and terrible at everything else. So, when an injury sidelined him from the only thing he was good at, Derek’s sense of self shattered. He also began to suspect that he had a learning disability. Testing confirmed that he had dyslexia.


Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by difficulty with word recognition, spelling, and reading comprehension. Before receiving a diagnosis and treatment, people with dyslexia tend to struggle in academic environments and experience low self-esteem. When diagnosed early in life, dyslexia can be managed through learned compensatory techniques and increased time allotted for reading and related tasks. If dyslexia is left undiagnosed, feelings of shame, embarrassment, isolation, and anxiety can fester.


Coping with Dyslexia can be challenging. Here are steps adults who believe they have dyslexia (or other learning disabilities) can take to improve the mental health issues they may face secondary to their learning disability:


Get Tested: Work with a professional to be screened and, if appropriate, diagnosed. Follow any recommendations for specific support (i.e., tutoring in new skills).


Rewrite Your Narrative: If you believed you weren’t smart, were accused of being lazy at school, or otherwise felt less than, notice the ways that you did your best – despite an unknown barrier.


See the Strengths: People with dyslexia find creative workarounds to make their learning difficulties less noticeable. Adults who create and hone unique skills also show grit and resilience.


Confide in Others: Tell your friends, family members, and colleagues about how dyslexia impacts your life so they can understand and support you.


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