Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is one of the longest words in the dictionary — and, in an ironic twist, is the name for a fear of long words.

Hippopoto – extra large. Monstro -scary. Sesquippedalio – long worded. Phobia – fear. Imagine that. I never knew that such a word could really exist. I never knew that such a fear could exist. Until I met a brother (9) and a sister (11) who when asked to read text, they would refuse. When despite the refusal, they were encouraged to give it a try, they would cry. Real tears, welled up on their cheek. I never saw anything like it.

Until I learnt that they both suffered from the fear of long words that they thought they couldn’t tackle. Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.

Instead of labeling these children as dyslexic, I did something any normal CBT practitioner would do to help someone overcome their fears. I slowly brought them to the fear, breaking down the words for them, to bite size parts. I told them to slow down when they were reading it slowly and getting frustrated.

It took time, but they got it. They are both reading today. They both LOVE reading whenever they can. The mother is ecstatic. The father says he can never pay me enough.

All I did was not label these children like all the other reading specialists did. I just dealt with the emotional side of the reading issue, by giving them support through their frustration,.. and they were able to get used to breaking down words on their own.  And now, Baruch Hashem, they do not have Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia any more!


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