Narratives from Mothers of Children with Dyslexia

Our Stories for Educators

by Shawn Anthony Robinson (Volume editor)
©2019 Monographs XII, 144 Pages


In today’s educational space, no student who struggles with reading should be denied a fair and equal education just because teachers are not trained to understand the implications of dyslexia. Failing to learn to read is not failing to learn. It merely means that the orthodox methods of whole-language reading instruction have not favored those students who need specific multisensory instruction.
In Narratives from Mothers of Children with Dyslexia: Our Stories for Educators, mothers share personal stories of pain in navigating educational spaces for the success of their sons and daughters who are dyslexic. Despite resistance from within the PreK–12 academy, these mothers have become warriors for education.
The narratives in this text are global ones, from Singapore, India, Kenya, Spain, Great Britain, and the United States, and are in local "dialect." The mothers use a variety of terms to describe their experiences, but the differences in language only prove that the language of experience is universal; we can understand everyone, even if they use different terms or names. We understand what they have learned through the challenges and struggles of serving as the backbone of their child’s education. We can easily translate that experience into the global, universal expression of a parent’s love for their child.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword (Rick Smith)
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Mothers of Children with Dyslexia: Their Voices (Shawn Anthony Robinson)
  • Chapter One: “When Is the Self-Hatred Going to End?” (Paula Juelich)
  • Chapter Two: The Patient Race and Small Victories (Alicia Tan)
  • Chapter Three: From Guilt to Hope: A Mother’s Journey (Christina Reynoso)
  • Chapter Four: Moving to Singapore and the Challenges of Transition (Deborah Hewes)
  • Chapter Five: Bittersweet Findings (Krissy Seeley)
  • Chapter Six: Raising Dyslexic Children with Resiliency (Rei Wang)
  • Chapter Seven: On the Bubble (Candice Hansen)
  • Chapter Eight: No Perfect Journeys—We Can Only Make Them Happy (Rashmi Wankhede)
  • Chapter Nine: “The 6-Year Wait” (Debra Lafler)
  • Chapter Ten: Mario’s Journey: How My Son’s Dyslexia Led to a Game-Changing Breakthrough in Spain (Montserrat Garcia)
  • Chapter Eleven: Mother’s Intuition (Kara M. Gonsowski)
  • Chapter Twelve: He Is a Different Learner, Not Slow Learner (Phyllis Wamucii Munyi-Kariuki / Nancy Muringo Munyi)
  • Chapter Thirteen: Failure Turned into an Inspiring Entrepreneur (Shanthi Chandrasekhar)
  • Chapter Fourteen: Educating the Educator: A Journey through Dyslexia in the Private School Sector (Alissa Birkenholtz)
  • Chapter Fifteen: Fighting Dyslexia by Building Circles of Support (Lakshmipriya Somasundaram)
  • Chapter Sixteen: A Star Is Born (Michelle Myers-Glower)
  • Postscript: I Don’t Have Any Strengths; I’m LD! (Teri Wegner / Tonya Hameister)
  • Conclusion (Paula Moraine)
  • Afterword: Sharing in the Experience (Tonya Hameister)
  • Contributors

| ix →


We read to know we’re not alone …


It is estimated that as many as 15–20% of individuals worldwide struggle to read, a magical skill that opens doors to opportunities that many of us take for granted. If you cannot read, then you cannot see the landscapes so beautifully painted by the artisans of language we call authors. The stories in this book are just a small sample from millions of stories of people around the world who have dyslexia and other learning differences. People with hopes and dreams. People capable of great things and exquisite actions. People just like you and me.

Shawn is one of those people. He was angry and frustrated and couldn’t read. But that didn’t stop him from achieving his dream—to help others who, like him, just needed a break, a helping hand. Today Shawn has a Ph.D. in Language and Literacy from Cardinal Stritch University. He has helped countless others learn to read, and as a scholar, he has opened doors not only for himself but for many others with his research on the intersection of race, giftedness, and dyslexia. We are honored and privileged that he has chosen to serve on the Board of Directors of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA).

IDA is a global movement dedicated to creating a future for all individuals who struggle with dyslexia and other related reading differences so that they will ← ix | x → have richer, more robust lives and access to the tools and resources they need. It was a significant turning point for Shawn when his professor believed in him and reached out to help. It changed his life completely. He has said that it is because of help like this that he started believing in himself—not just academically but as a person who can help the world be a better place. Together, we hope to make this happen for everyone who struggles to read.

One of IDA’s key initiatives as an organization to achieve this goal is educator training. Surveys, such as the one in the United Kingdom, cited by Education Week, indicate that the #1 reason teachers choose their profession is to make a difference in students’ lives. Unfortunately, teachers face challenges and roadblocks of their own, and we must help them by giving them adequate training, support, and understanding. The stories in this book will help too. They serve to remind educators that each student has a story and each student holds visceral promise. To quote Shawn, “If you pour love into them, eventually they are going to blossom. It’s just a matter of when.”

I am humbled and inspired by the hard work and determination described by the families in these stories. Families suffer, sometimes for decades without the early identification and intervention that we know changes lives. Whether it’s in Kenya or the United States, children with learning differences continue to be labeled as lazy, stupid, or not caring, when in fact they are bright, thoughtful, and very much do care. They care to fit in, care to succeed, care to contribute—just like the rest of us. These stories have been shared to help us understand the obstacles and challenges that people with learning and reading differences encounter and try their best to manage every day of every year in every corner of our world. These are stories about people who are bold, brave, and fearless.

Rick Smith
Chief Executive Officer,
International Dyslexia Association

| xi →


This edited book would have not been possible without the professional support of Lee Siang, CEO of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore and Chair of the International Dyslexia Association Global Partners Committee, who spent hours soliciting the voices of mothers across the world. I am forever thankful for his service. My gratitude goes also to Paula Moraine who added the final polish and spent a myriad of time reviewing and editing the entire book before submission.

| 1 →


Mothers of Children with Dyslexia: Their Voices


As a parent of a child with dyslexia, I know that Jackie Stewart was right. The plot of the dyslexia story is one that could be told with minor variations all around the world. A bright child, let’s say a boy, arrives at school full of life and enthusiasm; he tries hard to learn to read like everyone else, but unlike everyone else he can’t seem to learn how; he’s told by his parents to try harder; he’s told by his teachers that he’s “not working to potential”; he’s told by other children that he’s a “retard” and a “moron”; he gets a resounding message that he’s not going to amount to much; and he leaves school bearing little resemblance to the enthusiastic child he was when he entered. One can only wonder how many times this tragic story has been repeated, just because of failure at learning to read.

—WOLF (2007, P. 166)

The quote from Dr. Wolf, put so succinctly, reveals the child’s experience. The child who does not understand what is happening, who has no control over the outcome of their efforts, and who is blamed for the very struggle they cannot change. The voice of the child asking for help is not heard, but rather the voice of criticism, blame, and shame booms all around them. As you will hear in this book, the voices of the parents are often not heard either. The parents find themselves knowing something is not right, they can see their child struggling and suffering, but they have no way to help initially.

They have to fight for understanding, fight for informed teachers, and essentially fight for the education of their child. No one told them, long ago when they ← 1 | 2 → held that tiny bundle of happy baby in their arms, that they would one day be in a fight for the survival of that child. No one told them that they might have to become fierce in order to protect their child from consequences of ignorance and lack of teacher training in the educational system. No one told them that if they didn’t fight for their precious child’s needs, their child would literally go down without a fight.


XII, 144
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (March)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XII, 144 pp. 1 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Shawn Anthony Robinson (Volume editor)

Shawn Anthony Robinson is a Senior Research Associate at Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a board member of the International Dyslexia Association. Robinson graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO) with a Bachelor’s of Science, a Master’s in Education from DePaul University, and a PhD in Language and Literacy from Cardinal Stritch University. He is a recipient of the 2017 Alumni Achievement Award/New Trier High School Alumni Hall of Honor.


Title: Narratives from Mothers of Children with Dyslexia
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158 pages