Learning, like other skills, is something children develop at their own pace. Although it's common for children to find reading difficult at some points in their lives, it becomes a problem if learning to read is a constant struggle that causes a child to fall behind his or her peers. Such a child may be having a learning disability known as dyslexia
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia, qualified as a learning disability, is characterized by difficulties in learning to read and write despite normal intelligence, adequate schooling, and socio-cultural opportunities. It is the most common learning disability in the United States.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) defines dyslexia as the most common form of specific learning disability [with] difficulty decoding written words, and it affects 5 to 17 percent of school-age children.
The hallmarks of dyslexia are difficulties with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds), rapid naming (naming objects or letters presented to the child), and orthographic coding (reading the written word). However, dyslexia also impacts other cognitive functions such as reading comprehension, writing, spelling, and motor skills.
Although dyslexia has no cure, it does have treatments that can help your child read and learn better.
Symptoms of dyslexia
Because it can sometimes be difficult for teachers and parents to identify the different indicators of dyslexia within a child, it’s always important to consider whether there could be something more serious causing a child's inability to learn or read.
So, if you’re concerned that your child might have dyslexia, you need to make sure it's really dyslexia. Get your child formally diagnosed by a doctor. The medical team will administer tests that can give you solid answers and help your child get any assistance he or she might need.
Nevertheless, recurrent spelling errors and/or trouble with reading comprehension are common symptoms of dyslexia. Writing, number recognition, and mathematics can also be difficult for children with learning problems (in fact some of these difficulties often accompany reading issues).
Other symptoms include slowed down thinking, difficulty memorizing letters or numbers, as well as difficulties with spatial relationships like left/right and up/down. Even though not all children with dyslexia exhibit all of these symptoms, these are common symptoms you should be aware of.
So, if your child begins having difficulty memorizing his or her ABCs or 123s at the age of four and continues to struggle through grade school, it might be time to see a specialist to investigate further.
Causes of dyslexia
First and foremost, dyslexia is not an illness, it’s a disorder that impacts reading, writing and speech.
The main cause of dyslexia is believed to be genetics while other possible causes are head injuries, exposure to toxic substances, lead poisoning, and malnutrition during pregnancy.
Even though experts don’t know how genetics play into dyslexia, they do know that once you have it, you’re always at risk of it appearing in future generations.
Kids whose parents have dyslexia are more likely than other kids their age to develop it as well.
There is also some evidence suggesting that reading disabilities can run in families – but only when both parents have them (25% chance), or one parent has an extreme form of dyslexia (50% chance).
However it’s worth noting that these percentages include all forms of reading disabilities – not just dyslexia.
Since there is no single test for diagnosing dyslexia, identifying it can be tricky. It may take an average of three years from when a problem is noticed to when it’s diagnosed.
That said, there are a few early signs that parents and teachers should watch out for, since knowing what they are will help ensure that dyslexic kids get the extra help they need at all times
The most commonly recognized sign of learning disabilities is slow reading development.
Many children with language-based learning disorders (such as dyslexia) start reading later than their peers and continue to struggle with reading into their teenage years or adulthood.
Learning disabilities are typically diagnosed through an assessment. This may involve one or more of the following: IQ tests, academic testing, and observation.
So, if you suspect your child is exhibiting symptoms of a learning disability, talk with his/her teacher and request that he/she administer some form of assessment (if they haven't already).
You can also take it upon yourself to ask for testing at your local school district office.
Common treatment methods
Treating kids early is essential because of how much their brains are able to grow and change during childhood; it’s often best if treatment begins as early as possible. In fact, early interventions have been shown to help kids learn faster and score higher on standardized tests as well as live better lives overall.
The good news is that many schools offer support for kids who struggle with reading or writing. It however helps to get an evaluation by an occupational therapist or psychologist who can make recommendations about what kinds of programs will work best for your kid's needs.
In general, most professionals agree that additional help from someone qualified may be necessary if you suspect your child has dyslexia — especially after talking with his teachers or school psychologist first.
You should also make sure your child knows exactly what they're dealing with before heading off to college (or entering high school). Because they'll need accommodations like extra time on exams and copies of class materials in advance so they can study ahead of time.
Because dyslexia can be treated with both behavioral and educational therapy. Some people often opt for an alternative therapy called Brain Gym, which is based on developmental movement and other exercises that are supposed to improve brain functioning.
At Good Hope Tutoring, we use proven behavioral and educational methods that are based on phonemic awareness (How we hear sounds), phonics (How we read sounds) and continuous exposure to often occurring sight words. We believe no child is too slow or dumb to learn - all it takes it extra attention and love!
Looking to learn more about how you can help your child with dyslexia? Check out our post on how you can teach kids with dyslexia.
Don't forget you can always share your thoughts with us in the comment!
Education for learners with dyslexia