Understanding Dyslexia and How to Help Kids Who Have It

Why you might want to check your children for symptoms.

Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

When trying to understand dyslexia, it is important to remember each child develops and learns at their own pace. Reading and writing are no different from all other skills. These skills often become a problem for children with dyslexia.

You must be able to recognize the signs. And understand why a child with dyslexia might fall behind his/her classmates when it comes to reading and writing.

Learning the signs of Dyslexia: The most common learning disability

In the article below, we will breakdown crucial information about dyslexia so that you are able to assist your child or student in whatever ways he/she may need.

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disability often associated with difficulties in learning to read and write. It affects the child’s ability to recognize and change sounds in speech. 

Children with dyslexia have difficulty deciphering new words or deciphering them into easy-to-understand passages. This leads to problems with reading, writing, and spelling. They can make up for the lost time by remembering a complex vocabulary but will have difficulty recognizing new words and even slow to recall the ones they have learned.

Dyslexia is not a reflection of a child’s intellect — it is defined as the gap between a child’s ability and performance. Some children with dyslexia may follow their peers and make additional efforts, at least in the first year. But by age nine or ten, when they have to read quickly and smoothly to keep up with their peers, they start to get into trouble.

With help and strategies to compensate for their weak decoding skills, dyslexic students can learn to read and develop academically at the same pace as other students. But dyslexia is not a disease that can be overcome — a student must work hard to compensate for his/her disability.

How common is dyslexia?

It is estimated that one in five children is dyslexic and up to 80–90% of children with learning difficulties are dyslexic. Many children are not diagnosed due to the fact that problems in school are wrongly diagnosed as a lack of intelligence, a too-heavy workload, or environmental factors like home life or extra-curricular activities getting in the way.

Although experts argue that dyslexia is more common among boys than girls, recent research shows that it affects both boys and girls the same.

Symptoms of dyslexia

Kids with dyslexia may show a number of these signs:

  • Struggle with learning even simple rhymes
  • Have a speech delay
  • Have trouble following directions
  • Repeat or omit short words such as and, the, but
  • Find it difficult to tell left from right

In school, children with dyslexia are likely to:

  • Have difficulty sounding out new words
  • Lack fluency compared to other children their age
  • Reverse letters and numbers when reading (read saw as was, for example)
  • Find it difficult to take notes and copy down words from the board
  • Struggle with rhyming, associating sounds with letters, and sequencing and ordering sounds
  • Stumble and have difficulty spelling even common words; frequently they will spell them phonetically (hrbr instead of harbor)
  • Avoid being called on to read out loud in front of classmates
  • Become tired or frustrated from reading

Dyslexia affects children outside of school as well. Kids with dyslexia may also:

  • Find it difficult to decode logos and signs
  • Struggle when trying to learn the rules to games
  • Have difficulty keeping track of multi-step directions
  • Struggle with getting the hang of telling time
  • Find it especially challenging to learn another language
  • Become incredibly frustrated, which can affect their mood and emotional stability

How is dyslexia diagnosed?

If your child does not meet reading requirements, you may ask your child’s school to evaluate and pass the results to the school district.

The evaluation tests your child’s reading skills and intellectual abilities to determine if there is a learning gap. It must also exclude other possible causes, such as environmental factors or hearing impairment.

The school must then make recommendations to support the child and maximize the learning process. Unfortunately, in developing countries such as Indonesia, these resources may not be available.

That is why Bali Dyslexia Foundation has taken a stand to bring awareness to the inequalities in education for learners with disabilities such as dyslexia.

Parents can also take their children to see a psychologist, neuropsychologist, reading specialist, speech therapist, educational counselor, or school psychologist if the resources exist.

However, there is a negative connotation about dyslexia in these nations without school resources for dyslexia and, oftentimes, parents won’t even take their children to get examined professionally.

Addressing impacts of dyslexia in kids

Dyslexia has much more impact than the level at which children can read — it can also have a social impact on a child.

Children with dyslexia, especially those who have not yet been diagnosed with dyslexia, often have low self-esteem because they are afraid that something is wrong with them and are often accused of not making enough effort to learn to read.

How to help children with dyslexia

The diagnosis of dyslexia does not mean that the child will never learn to read. To combat, there are several learning programs that can help improve these functions:

  • Multi-sensory instruction in decoding skills
  • Repetition and review of skills
  • Intensity of intervention — that is, more than being pulled out of class once a week for extra help
  • Small group or individual instruction
  • Teaching decoding skills
  • Drilling sight words

Believe it or not, traditional education can be counterproductive for a child with dyslexia, especially if it is not a positive experience.

The most important way to help children with dyslexia is to make reading and writing easier; to make learning easier. In part, you can do this by celebrating even small victories and achievements, with less attention to correcting the child’s mistakes.

When should your child with dyslexia be examined?

Dyslexia can start early so there are pre-school assessments that check if your child knows the sounds of words and if they can recall them.

If there is a gap between intelligence and a child’s reading ability — and there is evidence that this gap is visible by the first grade — it is good to get help.

Sometimes schools encourage parents to wait until the third grade to find out if their children really need disability accommodation.

But early intervention is important not only to help children catch-up but also to strengthen their fragile self-consciousness. That is hampered by ongoing school struggles and peer-to-peer comparison.

Other ways to support a kid with dyslexia

Children with confirmed dyslexia have the right to stay at school with unaffected students. After all, this disability does not affect intelligence in the least. Instead, you should just accommodate the disability. Remedies can include:

  • Extra time for testing
  • Quiet room for working
  • Recorded lessons for playback
  • Ability to give oral rather than written answers
  • Avoid required reading aloud in class
  • No obligation to study foreign languages

One of the best ways to support a child with dyslexia — or a child with difficulties — is to encourage their favorite activity, whether it’s music, joining a sports team, or something that will help them gain confidence.

Parents and educators should stress to the student that dyslexia is not an indicator of intelligence. It can also be helpful to talk about successful people who have been diagnosed with dyslexia.

Some other things that can help a child with dyslexia include:

  • Listening to audiobooks as an alternative to reading
  • Writing on a computer or tablet instead of handwriting
  • Applications that make learning fun
  • Use a line reader to help children concentrate

Dyslexia can lead to disappointment, shame, avoidance,, and low self-esteem because it is difficult to perform tasks that others take for granted.

However, the biggest thing to note is that dyslexic students need support. Be there for them, accommodate their situations, and let them know that there is nothing wrong with them!

P.S. — This article was originally intended to support Bali Dyslexia Foundation. Please consider checking out their mission!

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** This article was originally published at www.adamcheshier.com **

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