Dyslexia is defined by scientists in many ways, however, my favorite one by the International Dyslexia Association says it is a condition where the person has:
“….difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition, as well as poor spelling and decoding abilities”
However, as a mother of two Dyslexic children, I would define Dyslexia as an opportunity to redefine how your child learns to meet the world’s standards.
In this article, I will share with you everything I have learned on Dyslexia, as well as offer some insights on how to have an early diagnosis and other ways to help your child.
Early Diagnosis Of Dyslexia
As with many learning disabilities, recognizing that your child has Dyslexia may only occur once they reach Grade school.
Prior to this, there may be little or no indication that your child has any deficit, as most have normal to above-average cognitive intelligence.
The earlier a child is diagnosed, the better the outcome; with the correct learning system in place, most children can learn to read and write.
Unfortunately, many people are only diagnosed in adulthood.
Some things you should know:
- Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities, with 15-20% of the population having a reading disability and 70-80% of special education children primarily having difficulty reading, spelling, and writing.
- Children who are diagnosed early on and receive phonological training in their kindergarten and first-grade schools will have fewer problems in learning to read at higher grade levels.
- Dyslexia individuals inherit the genetic link for the disability. It affects males and females equally.
The following list may help parents and teachers alike to recognize the small signs that a child may need help.
As with any learning disability, it’s important that a child is tested by a qualified professional.
- The child may start talking later than most children, and word pronunciation will be difficult, i.e. they may say busgetti instead of spaghetti or mawn lower instead of a lawnmower.
- Their vocabulary may be slower and recalling the correct word might be difficult.
- There may be visible signs of processing disorder when it comes to multi-step directions, rhyming or learning sequencing tasks. This is similar to those who suffer from auditory processing disorder.
- They may have trouble telling or retelling a story.
- The child may be prone to accidents and impulsive.
Kindergarten – Fourth Grade
- A difficulty with phonics blending to make words will be prevalent.
- Decoding single words or reading single words will be difficult.
- Slow to learn the letter-to-sound connection.
- Confuse small sight words, such as, does, goes, said, and, to, and at.
- Reading and spelling errors are consistently made: for example, letter and word reversals will not be self-corrected. Transpositions such as felt and the left will be confused and substitutions such as house and home will be consistently incorrect.
- Many Dyslexic children rely heavily on memorizing without understanding and may be slow to learn new skills. They may also lack planning capabilities.
- Learning to tell time may be difficult for them to grasp.
- Fine motor skills may be poor and will also be evident in unusual pencil grips, eg. thumb hooked over their fingers, or a fist etc.
My Advice On Managing Dyslexia
Get professional help Asap
Highly skilled educational therapists are using techniques that are proving to be successful. The best results are seen where a multisensory, structured language approach is used.
What this entails, is the use of combining several senses, such as touch, sight, and sound in systematic and explicit methods.
Most dyslexic individuals move at a slower pace than their peers; when they are afforded one-on-one tuition time, either within the classroom or outside, they are found to excel academically.
Continuous skill development is crucial
Using technology to build word recognition skills -through various programs which are readily available online- will ensure that your child is not only using their “screen time” constructively but also continuously building on what has been taught at school.
Homeschooling and your Dyslexic child
Although homeschooling may be a bit daunting for many parents, opting for a smaller independent homeschool, may be just what your child needs to develop into a confident adult despite their dyslexia.
The benefit is that they are able to work at their own pace, which is definitely an advantage for any child with a learning disability.
I personally found that homeschooling my dyslexic children enabled me to focus on their strengths to build their confidence and that automatically bubbled over onto their weaker areas.
My eldest daughter, for example, struggles primarily with spelling and reads very slowly, however, she can solve a math problem with one split second glance. So I allowed her to work faster through her maths curriculum.
My younger daughter has the type of dyslexia where the words actually “swim” across the page and she struggled to learn the alphabet and still struggles immensely with phonic blends.
But she has a photographic memory and honestly can retain an incredible amount of information.
This may sound like a contradiction in point, however, dyslexia and technology are your best tools.
Both my dyslexic girls improved with their reading skills in their teens simply due to the fact that I purchased them both a cell phone – yes! – I am encouraging you to give your dyslexic teen unlimited text, Instagram and other social media access. (Supervised of course).
For your preschooler and grade school child encourage them to play interactive games where they need to follow oral instructions – but here is the master plan, activate the text to speech, or impaired hearing option in the settings as this will ensure that the words are also displayed on the screen.
This will take some practice and each setting will depend on the specific app that is being used. Audiobooks are also beneficial and will help your child overcome their fear of reading.
Help for teachers
Dyslexic students need a lot of structured practice, almost like building lego. Corrective feedback should be immediately given in order to develop and trigger automatic word recognition skills.
It is especially beneficial to students if their teachers work hand-in-hand with their outside therapists.
Schools have recently been accommodating dyslexic students, by allowing them extra time to complete tasks, assistance with taking notes and modification of homework and in-class assignments.
One of my favorite accommodations that schools have started implementing is the introduction of oral testing, whereby test and exams are recorded and dyslexic students are able to give answers verbally.
Many schools allow student alternative means of assessments and allow the use of text reading computer programs for the writing of exams or assessments.
Build a strong character
Many children will suffer emotionally due to their learning disability, and taking them to mental health specialists in order to help them cope with their emotional struggles will help to build their confidence.
While researching online information as a parent of Dyslexic children, I came across numerous Dyslexic educational sites which offer assistance in varying form for children and adults who are Dyslexic.
There is no denying that there is a lot of help out there, but what always struck me to my core were the comments from desperate parents who recognized that their children had a problem reading, spelling and writing, but the schools were not in agreement.
Some parents felt like their hands were tied, while others were more proactive and found alternative schooling systems for their children.
As a parent with two Dyslexic children, I understand their plight and the need to fight for their child’s basic rights to a good education.
How To Help Build Your Dyslexic Child’s Confidence
That’s easy! Show them a list of some famous people who were dyslexic. Believe me, the list is extensive! However, I narrowed it down to my top 5:
- Albert Einstein – best known simply as a genius!
- Pablo Picasso – Famous artist.
- Steven Spielberg – Iconic director.
- Tom Cruise – A-list actor.
- Sir Richard Branson – Multi-millionaire business tycoon.
When it comes to your child, especially one with a learning disability, from one Mama to another, I always say: “Trust your instincts!”