Understanding Your Dyslexic Friend/Child/Spouse/Student

Poster advertising the documentary The Big Picture Rethinking Dyslexia. Illustration shows a child reading with an old-fashioned bomb behind them. Text reads: The myths. The stigmas. The truths. Revealed. A challenge. And a gift. It's important to be understanding to your dyslexic friend, child, spouse, or student.

Understanding your dyslexic friend, child, spouse, or student

On February 28th I attended a screening of an outstanding documentary called The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia. (poster at right) The Rawson Saunders School in Austin hosted the screening along with the panel discussion that followed. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is dyslexic or anyone with a loved one with dyslexia and to all educators.

It is no secret that I have dyslexia. I’ve written about it before in this blog. But after seeing the documentary, I was absolutely flabbergasted. Why? Because for me the effects of dyslexia reach so much farther than just my difficulties with writing, spelling and being a slow reader. Many other aspects of life are difficult for me, and until I saw this film, I never really connected them with being dyslexic.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 children have dyslexia. Most of them are never diagnosed. Many adults also struggle with it without knowing the reason for their difficulties. So I thought I would share some of my recent realizations about myself. Perhaps you may be struggling with similar things, or if you are a parent with a dyslexic child, reading my experiences might help you gain a deeper understanding of what your child may be going through.

Note: The symptoms and severity of dyslexia vary from person to person. Not all dyslexics have the same difficulties, although some symptoms of dyslexia – such as slow reading and difficulty writing – are universal.

Here are a few of my recent realizations:

  • Students are often encouraged and sometimes required to take notes during a class or lecture. And that’s a great way to remember what the teacher discussed. But for me, there’s just one problem with this scenario: I can’t take notes—not good ones, that is. Why? Because I have to concentrate so hard on writing the notes that I can no longer hear the lecture and in a very short time I’m completely lost. So I generally have to take mental notes and if I do write something down it’s usually very brief, perhaps simply a word or two as a quick reminder.
  • I’ve also been puzzled about why I can spell a simple word one day but not the next, and why I can’t follow/understand basic written assembly instructions but I can easily assemble just about anything from the illustrations. Dyslexia also explains why, when leaving an unfamiliar place without a clear focal point, I frequently go the wrong direction. These are just a few of the things I deal with that are all related to dyslexia.
  • The documentary also reminded me that dyslexia never goes away. A dyslexic person just learns to compensate for it, which is why after all these years of daily practice I still read slowly and have to concentrate on what I’m reading to understand it clearly. Otherwise I’m just mouthing the words and not comprehending most of it.

Many that know me find it quite surprising that I’m an author. But to be perfectly honest, no one is more surprised about it than I am. It has been a long road getting to this point and one reason why I am able to write is because I now have tools and strategies that I use to help myself.

I’ll share some of these strategies in the coming weeks.

Thank you for reading about understanding your dyslexic friend, child, spouse, or student. For a thorough discussion of the social and emotional support children with dyslexia require, read my award-winning book, Raising a Child with Dyslexia: What Every Parent Needs to Know, available in softcover, hardcover, eBook, and audio.

Cardboard Box Adventures picture books are great for shared reading and can help parents establish a strong preliteracy foundation for their children. Check out the CBA Catalog for a full list of award-winning picture books, chapter books, and resources for parents and educators. Visit my Don M. Winn Amazon author page for more information.


  1. Reblogged this on Eureka Reading and commented:
    Sadly, I can’t view the whole film here in the UK, but worth checking out the trailer at least.

    1. Don M. Winn says:

      Thanks for the reblog! It’s a great idea to check out the Big Picture website. There are several clips on there and some of the clips have supplementary content that isn’t even in the film.

  2. Mark says:

    Hi we believe our daughter has Dyslexia had have for some sometime, she is a 5 year old girl, we are haveing problems on understanding and what and where we can start to help.
    Any help would be great,
    Thanks Mark Risstrom.

    1. Don M. Winn says:

      Hi Mark, That’s good that you’re seeking help for your daughter before she starts first grade. If you haven’t already, I’d recommend watching the documentary, The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia (http://thebigpicturemovie.com/) and learning all you can about it. I’d also recommend that you get your daughter tested for dyslexia as soon as possible and check with your local school district to see what programs are available for dyslexic children. Next week I’ll publish a blog about fun ways to build a good pre-literacy foundation in all children. You can sign up on this blog if you’d like to be notified when new blogs are published. Please let me know how it goes with your daughter and if I can be of further help.

      Link to a list of dyslexia articles:

      All the best,

Comments are closed.