How might dyslexia affect relationships in a family? And how might those effects impact on individual family members? That is what this documentary examines. The director Sarah Entine found her family’s reaction to her dyslexia more challenging than the dyslexia itself. 3 generations struggled to communicate due to undiagnosed dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder. Sarah wanted to see if she could improve the situation.
3 aspects of Sarah’s experience particularly struck me.
The contrast between her school and home experiences. School was structured; home was a battle to gain her mother’s approval and acceptance through reading aloud.
Although Sarah was identified as dyslexic at primary school, she didn’t understand her dyslexia until she was 29.
Sarah identified communication as part of the challenge of dyslexia. As her experience highlights, while the obvious difficulties of dyslexia and ADD might grab our attention, we might fail to notice and address communication difficulties. As a result, our relationships – and we – can suffer.
I particularly appreciated the following aspects of this film.
It is candid. With every photo and comment, I was able to make a direct comparison in my own life. That helped me to reflect on my own experience.
It is clear and told by the person it’s about. Sarah narrates the film herself, very articulately.
It doesn’t draw general conclusions from one individual’s experience. Instead, it focuses on real examples. This makes it convincing.
It is realistic but also positive. There are poignant and moving moments but these are balanced by light-hearted ones. It inspires hope of change in the family context and shows us how change can be achieved.
It discusses non-literacy difficulties of dyslexia including the following:
The challenges dyslexic individuals can face in employment e.g. multi-tasking, clear communication, note-taking, distractions in an open-plan office, stress
Short term memory e.g. word finding, telling stories of what happened over the course of a weekend
Sequencing e.g. starting to talk mid-way through a thought, recounting a film in the correct sequence
Social interaction e.g. Sarah didn’t talk at the tea table
Feeling that we don’t fit in with our peers or at home
Auditory processing (as Sarah puts it, this is ‘pretty central in one’s life’ because it’s how we take in information)
Reading comprehension (as distinct from reading)
Non-verbal reasoning – brilliantly demonstrated when Sarah, her mum and grandma collaborate to self-assemble a piece of furniture.
It gives several different perspectives: Dyslexic adult, dyslexic child, dyslexic learner (from primary school to postgraduate studies), parent of dyslexic child, specialist teacher.
I’d recommend using this film:
For dyslexia meetings and Dyslexia Awareness Week events. The viewing guide provides discussion prompts, and activities for children and families.
As a prompt for family members to reflect together on
how dyslexia affects their family relationships,
how they each communicate, and
whether there’s anything they could do to improve communication
3. As a training resource e.g. for counsellors and educators.
My top tips for watching the film: