Everyone has a Story to Tell
By Laura Kent, Founding Member Decoding Dyslexia VA
Have you ever heard the expression “Everyone has a story to tell”? How about “You never know what another person’s life is like until you have walked a mile in their shoes.” Like many parents, you might be moving so quickly to keep up with the demands of everyday life… that you have not taken time to reflect. Decoding Dyslexia Virginia is asking you to do so. We’re asking you to share your story so that others will be comforted in the knowledge that they are not alone. That message is a powerful one as we strive to support our children with Dyslexia.
It really is a gift to yourself as well as, eventually, a gift you might choose to give others. Find a quiet moment to sit down and think about your family’s story to date. Just start writing. Don’t worry about timelines. Don’t edit your initial thoughts. Don’t be concerned with how your story may be received. Just get your story written. You may be surprised that you end up with many more pages than you expected, and the emotions that are reflected on the pages jump right up at you. This can be a very cathartic experience. When you finish writing your story… take some time to reflect on your journey thus far and all the hard work your child has put into his/her learning. Make sure you notice your accomplishments as well!
The next part does involve some editing. Keep your original copy for yourself. Take a second copy and begin to boil your story down to the most meaningful pieces. As a goal, try to position your story so that it is about 4 minutes long and around 2 pages. Beware: this may take multiple attempts! This is all part of the process. Take a look at the article “From Experience to Influence: The Power of a Parent’s Story” which is put out by the Pacer Center. This article offers great guidance on how to position your story to tell it to particular audiences. See what ideas fit for you and the style in which you tell a story. Do you want to quote your child? Do you have creative ways that you can use to highlight different parts of your story? This second version will be the one that you have handy when DD-VA members are called upon to tell their stories. As DD-NJ notes in their Grassroots Guide, “The goal is to get policy-makers to care about your child’s struggle. They do not need to hear about every injustice or a play by play account of the family-school conflict. They need to quickly come to know the roadblocks that you faced, how they affected your child and what needs to be done to correct the problem.”
The story of your journey will be added to the stories of other dyslexic children who are not receiving the support they need to grow and thrive. These stories will be shared as we visit parent support meetings, schools, school board members, universities, helping professionals and lawmakers. You are not alone and together we can make a difference!