Is your child struggling with his spelling, his writing, or his reading? Is your child not progressing as quickly as his classmates? Are you waiting for him to improve and catch up but he doesn’t. Then someone mentions dyslexia, and you start to wonder. But what is dyslexia and how do you know if this is something your child might have?


What is Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a broad term defining a learning disability affecting the language skills of reading, writing and spelling in children with normal intelligence and who have reasonable opportunities to learn these skills. Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in children and persists throughout life. I affects boys more than girls.

Dyslexia can be related to brain injury, hereditary, or have hormonal influences. There are different levels of dyslexia from mild to severe. Although the disorder varies from person to person, common characteristics among children with dyslexia include difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds), spelling, and/or rapid visual-verbal responding.  Here are some indications that your child may be struggling with early language or reading development:


Warning Signs

Preschool Years

  • fails to appreciate rhymes
  • mispronounces common words
  • has trouble learning and remembering the names of letters, even those in own name

Early Elementary Years

  • struggles to break words into parts
  • has trouble learning names and sounds associated with each letter
  • struggles when reading simple one-syllable words
  • avoids reading
  • is persistently confused by letters which look similar, particularly
b/d, p/g, p/q, n/u, m/w

Middle and Late Elementary Years

  • has trouble pronouncing new words
  • makes slow progress in reading
  • lacks strategies for figuring out unfamiliar words
  • stumbles over simple sight words, like “the,” and “at”
  • guesses when reading unfamiliar words; pronunciation may not seem to correspond with sounds of letters
  • struggles with spelling
  • may avoid reading, or seem to spend an inordinate amount of time getting through reading assignments
  • struggles with reading comprehension
  • has trouble recalling sequences of things
  • has difficulty copying from a board or a book
  • written work is disorganized
  • difficulty remembering content, even if it involves a favorite book or video

Behavior problems

The child can become frustrated by the difficulty in learning to read, and other problems can arise that disguise dyslexia.  Watch out for behaviors that might reflect this, such as:

  • becoming withdrawn or appearing depressed
  • problems with self-esteem arising
  • acting out, drawing attention away from the learning disability
  • being excessively tired, due to the amount of effort and concentration required


What To Do

If you are concerned about your child, talk to his  teachers and pediatrician.  Diagnosis of dyslexia involves reviewing your child’s processing of information (seeing, hearing and participating in activities). It is important to get him or her evaluated as soon as possible because there are many strategies that can help your child improve and make significant progress and the earlier the interventions are put into place the better the outcomes.

If your child has dyslexia or any other learning disability one of the most important things is to motivate him and keep him excited about learning. Because the academic demands on a child with dyslexia may be great and the child may tire easily, work increments should be broken down into smaller chunks. Frequent breaks should be built into class and homework time. Positive reinforcement should be given for efforts as well as achievements. Alternatives to traditional written assignments should be explored and utilized. Teachers are learning to deliver information to students in a variety of ways that are not only more interesting, but also helpful to students who may learn best by different techniques. Interactive technology is also providing interesting ways for students to give feedback on what they have learned, in contrast to traditional paper-pencil tasks.


 Creative commons-licensed photo provided by SiSter PhotograPher.


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