Education Blog

Dyslexia in Kids: What Parents Need to Know

September 21, 2021

Every child learns to read at a different rate. Dyslexia is when a child struggles to read at the same pace as their peers. Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects around 15-20% of the population. Learning disability also includes autism, ADHD and other disorders in children that need special attention and parenting.

Sally Shaywitz, MD, a developmental pediatrician and co-founder, co-director of Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, and author of the best-selling book Overcoming Dyslexia, states that dyslexic children often struggle to read fluently or quickly, accurately and with understanding. It can lead to low self-esteem and a belief in their stupidity.

Instead, tell them they are part of a special club. They’re joining the list of people with Dyslexia, including Steven Spielberg, Richard Branson, and even Dav Pilkey (author of Captain Underpants). Get them the help that they need. Here are some things parents should know about Dyslexia and children.

What is Dyslexia?

According to the federal government, dyslexia is “an unexpected difficulty reading for an individual who has the intelligence to be much more proficient in reading.” It means that the intelligence of the child is crucial. A dyslexic child may be brilliant, but their reading skills could still be excellent.
This definition includes dyslexia, which is “most often caused by a difficulty with phonological processing (the appreciation the individual sounds spoken language), which affects an individual’s ability to spell, speak, read and spell.”

Signs of Dyslexia

Shaywitz states that dyslexia can be seen through apparent symptoms. These symptoms include difficulty reading and learning letters and sounds. There are other signs that dyslexia can manifest. These include:

  • Poor spelling
  • Inattention to rhymes
  • Learning foreign languages is difficult
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Anxiety about reading aloud in class, especially.
  • Difficulty in word retrieval or thinking of and using the word you want to say
  • Mixing similar sounding words in speech, such as consistent and constant
  • A larger listening vocabulary than a speaking vocabulary

Recommended Tests

Shaywitz states that dyslexia screening should be done in kindergarten for all children learning to read. Parents and teachers can use multiple screening tools for free in less than 10 minutes. Screeners can’t diagnose dyslexia but can help to identify if a child is at risk. Although, they can screen for it.

Shaywitz states that a dyslexia evaluation should include both a reading and IQ test as dyslexia can be measured for reading in terms of unexpected difficulty.
Ask your child’s school to test your child for dyslexia. If your child’s school district doesn’t agree with their testing results, you can request a private evaluation from a psychologist or reading specialist.

In the first grade, differences between dyslexic and typical readers begin to show. The gap will only get wider if there is no treatment. The faster a dyslexic child receives treatment it means the more they will improve their reading skills. Shaywitz states, “You want children at high risk to be reached early so that reading intervention can be maximally effective before they fall further behind.”

Treatment and Accommodations

Students who are diagnosed with dyslexia can receive accommodations at school. This allows them to measure their ability. Shaywitz states that accommodations are not necessary to measure disability.
Extra time for classwork and tests is a standard accommodation. A child might not be able to finish if they don’t have spare time. Shaywitz recommends that teachers grade essays separately from spelling. Children with dyslexia are often better at the first and less at the second.

A dyslexic children can benefit from interventions initiated early on. Parents and teachers should work together to help the child learn phonemes. These are the sounds that build up words. The Orton-Gillingham Method, which is multisensory and teaches children the connections between letters in words is an effective way.
Dyslexic children should also practice reading aloud multiple sentences related to each other. Pair reading is a great way to practice this. A parent will read a paragraph aloud and then repeat it with their child. Shaywitz suggests to practice paired reading for at least 15-20 minutes each day and several times per week.

You might also consider sending your child to a dyslexia school. Teachers are not well aware of Dylslexia issue. Due to this fact, they may not be able to provide the special attention dyslexic children need. Dyslexic children can opt for the specially designed schools like Windward School, New York, and Park Century School Los Angeles.

The Strengths of People with Dyslexia

Many people view learning disabilities as a result of their challenges. Dyslexic children might feel stupid because they have trouble reading. They have their own strengths and adults should highlight these.

Linda Siegel, PhD is a professor emeritus of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education, University of British Columbia said “We tried to find both the strengths and challenges”

Dyslexic children often do well in:

  • Acting and drama
  • Carpentry and building
  • Filmmaking and photography
  • Individual Sports
  • The big picture
  • Reasoning
  • Critical thinking
  • Listening vocabulary
  • Empathy
  • Problem-solving

This list should be a central point for any frustrated child. Siegel says that this list is crucial for their self-esteem.