Raising a child with dyslexia can stir up a lot of emotions. You may look ahead and wonder if this learning issue will affect your child's future. But dyslexia is not a prediction of failure. Dyslexia is quite common, and many successful individuals have dyslexia.
Research has proven that there are different ways of teaching that can help people with dyslexia succeed. There's a lot you can do as a parent too.
What are the symptoms of dyslexia?
Because dyslexia affects some people more severely than others, your child's symptoms may look different from those in another child. Some kids with dyslexia have trouble with reading and spelling. Others may struggle to write or to tell left from right.
Dyslexia can also make it difficult for people to express themselves clearly. It can be hard for them to structure their thoughts during conversation. They may have trouble finding the right words to say.
Others struggle to understand what they're hearing. This is especially true when someone uses nonliteral language such as jokes and sarcasm.
The signs you see may also look different at various ages. Some of the warning signs for dyslexia, such as a speech delay, appear before a child reaches kindergarten. More often, though, dyslexia is identified in grade school. As schoolwork gets more demanding, trouble processing language becomes more apparent.
Here are some signs to look out for:
- Warning Signs in Preschool or Kindergarten
- Has trouble recognizing the letters of the alphabet
- Struggles to match letters to sounds, such as not knowing what sounds b or h make
- Has difficulty blending sounds into words, such as connecting C-H-A-T to the word chat
- Struggles to pronounce words correctly, such as saying 'mawn lower' instead of 'lawn mower'
- Has difficulty learning new words
- Has a smaller vocabulary than other kids the same age
- Has trouble learning to count or say the days of the week and other common word sequences
- Has trouble rhyming
Warning Signs in Grade School or Middle School
- Struggles with reading and spelling
- Confuses the order of letters, such as writing 'left' instead of 'felt'
- Has trouble remembering facts and numbers
- Has difficulty gripping a pencil
- Has difficulty using proper grammar
- Has trouble learning new skills and relies heavily on memorization
- Gets tripped up by word problems in math
- Has a tough time sounding out unfamiliar words
- Has trouble following a sequence of directions
Warning Signs in High School
- Struggles with reading out loud
- Doesn't read at the expected grade level
- Has trouble understanding jokes or idioms
- Has difficulty organizing and managing time
- Struggles to summarize a story
- Has difficulty learning a foreign language
Skills that are affected by Dyslexia
Dyslexia doesn't just affect reading and writing. Here are some everyday skills and activities your child may be struggling with because of this learning issue:
- Appears bright, highly intelligent, and articulate but unable to read, write, or spell at grade level.
- Labelled lazy, dumb, careless, immature, "not trying hard enough," or "behavior problem."
- Isn't "behind enough" or "bad enough" to be helped in the school setting.
- High in IQ, yet may not test well academically; tests well orally, but not written.
- Feels dumb; has poor self-esteem; hides or covers up weaknesses with ingenious compensatory strategies; easily frustrated and emotional about school reading or testing.
- Talented in art, drama, music, sports, mechanics, story-telling, sales, business, designing, building, or engineering.
- Seems to "Zone out" or daydream often; gets lost easily or loses track of time.
- Difficulty sustaining attention; seems "hyper" or "daydreamer."
- Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation, and visual aids.
Vision, Reading, and Spelling Skills:
- Complains of dizziness, headaches or stomach aches while reading.
- Confused by letters, numbers, words, sequences, or verbal explanations.
- Reading or writing shows repetitions, additions, transpositions, omissions, substitutions, and reversals in letters, numbers and/or words.
- Complains of feeling or seeing non-existent movement while reading, writing, or copying.
- Seems to have difficulty with vision, yet eye exams don't reveal a problem.
- Extremely keen sighted and observant, or lacks depth perception and peripheral vision.
Reads and rereads with little comprehension:
- Spells phonetically and inconsistently.
- Hearing and Speech Skills
- Has extended hearing; hears things not said or apparent to others; easily distracted by sounds.
- Difficulty putting thoughts into words; speaks in halting phrases; leaves sentences incomplete; stutters under stress; mispronounces long words, or transposes phrases, words, and syllables when speaking.
Writing and Motor Skills:
- Trouble with writing or copying; pencil grip is unusual; handwriting varies or is illegible.
- Clumsy, uncoordinated, poor at ball or team sports; difficulties with fine and/or gross motor skills and tasks; prone to motion-sickness.
- Can be ambidextrous, and often confuses left/right, over/under.
- Math and Time Management Skills
- Has difficulty telling time, managing time, learning sequenced information or tasks, or being on time.
- Computing math shows dependence on finger counting and other tricks; knows answers, but can't do it on paper.
- Can count, but has difficulty counting objects and dealing with money.
- Can do arithmetic, but fails word problems; cannot grasp algebra or higher math.
Memory and Cognition:
- Excellent long-term memory for experiences, locations, and faces.
- Poor memory for sequences, facts and information that has not been experienced.
- Thinks primarily with images and feeling, not sounds or words (little internal dialogue).
- Behavior, Health, Development and Personality
- Extremely disorderly or compulsively orderly.
- Can be class clown, trouble-maker, or too quiet.
- Had unusually early or late developmental stages (talking, crawling, walking, tying shoes).
- Prone to ear infections; sensitive to foods, additives, and chemical products.
- Can be an extra deep or light sleeper; bedwetting beyond appropriate age.
- Unusually high or low tolerance for pain.
- Strong sense of justice; emotionally sensitive; strives for perfection.
What can be done at home for dyslexia?
Helping your child with dyslexia can be a challenge, particularly if you're never been confident in your own reading and writing skills. But you don't have to be an expert to help work on certain skills or strengthen your child's self-esteem.
Keep in mind that kids (and families) are all different, so not all options will work for you. Don't panic if the first strategies you try aren't effective. You may need to try several approaches to find what works best for your child. Here are some things you can try at home:
- Read out loud every day
- Tap into your child's interests
- Use audiobooks
- Look for apps and other high-tech help
- Focus on effort, not outcome
- Make your home reader-friendly
- Boost confidence
What can make the journey easier?
Dyslexia can present challenges for your child and for you. But with the proper support, almost all people with dyslexia can become accurate readers. Your involvement will help tremendously.
Wherever you are in your journey, whether you're just starting out or are well on your way, this site can help you find more ways to support your child. Here are a few things that can help make the journey easier:
- Connect with other parents. Remember that you're not alone. Use our safe online community to find parents like you.
- Get behavior advice. Parenting Coach offers expert-approved strategies on a variety of issues that can affect children with dyslexia, including trouble with time management, anxiety and fear, frustration and low self-esteem.
- Build a support plan. Come up with a game plan and anticipate what lies ahead.
Understanding dyslexia and looking for ways to help your child is an important first step. There's a lot you can do just don't feel you have to do everything all at once. Pace yourself. If you try a bunch of strategies at the same time, it might be hard to figure out which ones are working. And do your best to stay positive. Your love and support can make a big difference in your child's life. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a neurologist and ask a free question.