As a little girl, I had an image of becoming a Mummy. I imagined cuddling and playing with my baby, long walks with the pram and a general feeling of fulfillment. However, being an unidentified dyslexic adult, my experience of becoming a parent was far from what I had imagined.
Although all new parents face similar challenges, the aim of this blog is to raise awareness of the specific challenges that dyslexic parents can face when new to parenthood; and hopefully help them to identify areas where they may need additional help and support. I hope to also raise awareness with health professionals of the impact that dyslexia could have for dyslexic individuals in their care.
- Learning and remembering the pregnancy stages, attending ante-natal appointments; lots of form filling; including for maternity leave and pay;
- Working and being pregnant. You can be expected to achieve the same standards at work and cope with the additional factors of nausea, fatigue and sleep disturbances;
- Learning new routines and caring for a new-born baby, including monitoring milk intake; remembering when a nappy was last changed, sleep patterns;
- Trying to organise myself and the baby to get out the house;
- Adapting to my new role – I compared myself to other mothers who appeared to cope so well;
- No structure to the day/night;
- A feeling of being dependent on others to help, especially my mum and husband;
- A feeling that my house was very disorganised. I felt stressed when health professionals and unexpected visitors visited;
- Constant decision-making – sleep patterns, teething, milestones, weaning, behavioural management of a toddler;
- Returning to work after maternity leave. Organising childcare, the emotions, trying to focus at work after a sleepless night;
- Low self-confidence and self-esteem issues.
I sought help and support from the health visitor and GP. They felt my children’s needs were being met, but I had low self-confidence. They tried to give me advice and coping strategies in the areas that I felt frustrated with. I showed strengths in some areas and weakness in others. Some days I would cope well and other days not. If I had known that I was dyslexic, I could have managed my life differently and been more accepting of my difficulties; and the health professionals could have taken a different approach in supporting me. I could have benefited from discussing common issues with other dyslexic mothers and sharing coping strategies with them.
I found peace at a local nature reserve. My children and I could explore the reserve and it was calm and quiet. We enjoyed our times there, watching the wildlife in each season of the year. The children could run and explore without the worry of roads etc. It was refreshing and we have lots of happy memories of these times.
This was my experience of becoming a mum and I am sure not everyone will experience this in the way that I did. I would like to think that there are dyslexic mothers who embraced parenthood and put all their creativity and imagination into it! I aim to encourage people to talk about being a dyslexic parent and sharing coping strategies and ideas to help other mums to embrace this chapter in their life, for the benefit of themselves and their children.
I also aim to raise awareness with health professionals to be more aware of the signs of dyslexia. I would encourage them to deliver care and information specific to the needs of the individual with dyslexia, help them to overcome the challenges and identify coping strategies specific to them.
Being identified as dyslexic has allowed me to become more self-aware. I now have a better understanding of how dyslexia affects me, giving me strengths and weaknesses. When faced with a major life event in the future, I will be empowered to seek appropriate help and support to allow me to cope with the challenges it brings and take ownership of my dyslexia. What are your experiences of being a dyslexic parent?
Thank you for reading my blog, Emma G.