Does my child have dyslexia?
Usually when someone hears the term “dyslexia” they think a child only has trouble with reading. In fact, dyslexia is a learning disorder and a lifelong condition that affects the way a person reads, writes, spells, and speaks. In some cases, people may have a mild form of dyslexia, while for others it can be quite severe.
Dyslexia affects 20 percent of the population and represents 80 to 90 percent of all those with learning disabilities. It is the most common of all neuro-cognitive disorders. There are also many famous people who happen to be dyslexic. Tom Cruise, Richard Branson, and Steven Spielberg—just to name a few—are dyslexic, as was Mohammed Ali, the famous and professional American boxer nicknamed “The Greatest.”
What are the signs of dyslexia?
Children with dyslexia can realize quite early on that they’re not like the rest of their classmates, but they may not be able to articulate just how they’re different to their parents and teachers. They may feel like reading out loud is troublesome. Decoding speech sounds and how sounds relate to letters and words is confusing. Everything takes so much concentration, especially when the letters on the page seem to “jump around.”
Have you ever experienced what dyslexia looks like? Take a look HERE for an example to see what reading is like if you have dyslexia.
Signs of a learning disability, like dyslexia, can show up in children as early as preschool. Every case is unique, but there are common traits and behaviors a child with dyslexia may exhibit. These can vary day-to-day or minute-by-minute. Here are some examples.
Your child may have dyslexia if they have:
- A complicated relationship with reading
- Difficulty reading out loud
- Difficulty spelling words
- Difficulty with sequenced instructions
- Difficulty with organization and time management
- Low confidence
- Behavioral problems
- Problems with pronunciation
- An inclination to omit sounds and letters when reading and writing
- Complaints of a headache or dizziness
- Complaints that words on the page look “blurry” or “out of focus”
- Confusion with “left” and “right”
- Trouble with writing tools, like pencils or pens
- A tendency to guess, skip, or replace words altogether instead of sounding out words
- Strong oral comprehension, but weak reading comprehension
- A reading level below his or her peers
Children with dyslexia who reach third grade and have not yet been diagnosed can face significant odds, so it’s best to be pro-active in your child’s learning.
What should I do if I think my child has dyslexia?
The challenge of dyslexia can be tough on kids—it doesn’t matter how old they are or what grade they’re in. If you think your child has dyslexia, follow these steps:
1. First, understand the signs and myths of dyslexia.
Dyslexia is widely a misunderstood learning disability. For as common as it is, there are many myths out there. Know this: Dyslexia and intelligence are not connected. Children with dyslexia are bright, creative, and can accomplish amazing things as they get older and learn to master their skills.
2. Take some notes and talk with your child’s teacher.
Watch closely and take notes when your child struggles—and when your child doesn’t. Documenting specific circumstances will be useful as you talk with your child’s teacher and decide on next steps.
3. Talk with your child.
Even before a learning disability like dyslexia is named, your child may be feeling dumb, depressed, or isolated about school reading and testing. Low self-esteem is not uncommon. Tell your child he or she isn’t alone—there are other kids who struggle with this same thing, too. Let your child know there are skills they can learn and teachers who can help them read, write, speak, and spell with confidence.
Also, let your child know that some of the world’s greatest geniuses have also had dyslexia and speak to your child’s strengths during this time. Children with dyslexia may be highly aware of their environment, have a great ability to think in multi-dimensions, be more curious than other kids, think mainly in pictures than in words, and have a vivid imagination. These are true gifts your child can tap into even more once he or she is able to master the learning disorder.
4. Seek clinical help.
Find resources to help. Therapy Tree is a family therapy clinic with therapists who specialize in pediatric therapies and who help with reading, spelling, and dyslexia. Our atmosphere is designed to be whimsical, colorful, and kid-friendly. When learning becomes fun, children will be more likely to try, grow, and reach their goals.