Finding out your child has dyslexia can be nerve-wracking. You may wonder if there is even hope for them. Will they ever get their degree? Can they get a job? Heck! Can I even help my child cope with dyslexia?
We have compiled a list of helpful tips you can use to strengthen your child's ability to cope with dyslexia.
Identify the learning style of your child
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to teaching a child with dyslexia, it’s important to remember that the teaching style that works for one child may not be best for another. The brain is multidimensional and you are the audience of one when it comes to your child.
Some children may need a more visual approach to learning, while others may benefit from an auditory approach, or something more tactile (which you could call hands-on). These are all valid means of acquiring information. It's therefore important to know the learning style that benefits your child the most.
Provide a structured environment
Even though your child may be having trouble reading or writing, providing a structured environment can help. This can be as simple as putting up a schedule or daily routine for the day.
You can also break homework and study into smaller steps so your child doesn't feel overwhelmed by what they might perceive as a huge task. it's sometimes hard for children with dyslexia to work on long tasks like homework in environments that aren't quiet, so if you can, provide a quiet workspace free of distractions and noise.
In addition to outlining their daily schedule and setting aside quiet time for homework and study, you may want to consider using timers when it comes to long tasks. Seeing how much time is left before they're done with something gives children with dyslexia something concrete (like the timer) to focus on rather than feeling frustrated about the length of the project.
If a task takes more than an hour to complete, use timers that tell your child when to stop working and give them short breaks between each section of the assignment.
Emphasize mastery over time
As a parent, it can be tempting to demand instant results and put pressure on yourself and your child. However, the best thing you can do is to emphasize mastery over time. Help your child understand that learning takes time, and that this is a life-long process. Set realistic goals for yourself and your child when planning their education.
Understand that everyone learns at their own pace, and that dyslexia isn’t a disability. In fact, children with dyslexia often have other strengths in creativity or problem solving that are not directly related to reading skills. It’s important for both you and your child to remember this as you both work through coping with dyslexia
Don't expect perfection
It may be easy to get frustrated and fall into the perfectionist trap as it's not uncommon for dyslexic students to have a perfectionist personality. But, it is important that you as a parents don't exacerbate this issue by expecting perfect work from your dyslexic child.
Setting realistic expectations will help your child avoid becoming overwhelmed with stress. Also always take time to celebrate small victories and milestones.
Understand that dyslexia itself is not a learning disability, but it may be accompanied by other disabilities
It may seem as though dyslexia is a disability in learning, but it is actually a language-based learning disability. Those with dyslexia have difficulty reading and writing, which can be traced to difficulties with language processing. That's not to say that those with the condition aren't intelligent or won't have difficulty in other areas—it just means that its effects primarily concern language-based skills.
Dyslexia may also be accompanied by other disabilities like dyscalculia or dysgraphia. Dyscalculia is a disability in understanding and using mathematical symbols and functions, while dysgraphia is an impairment of transcription (the ability to write by hand).
Teach your child coping strategies
As your child learns more about his or her challenges, they may become frustrated. Help them develop coping strategies to face these challenges. Encourage your child to talk about what he or she may be feeling and to tell you when something is hard.
Together, you both can find ways to overcome these challenges while also helping them understand their learning differences.
Some coping strategies you can teach your child includes:
Taking a few deep breaths when something is hard or frustrating.
Using a dictionary or asking for help when reading or writing a word he doesn't know.
Looking for clues in the sentence or other parts of the story to figure out an unfamiliar word.
Find support groups and resources for you and your child
It is just as important to find support groups and resources for you as it is to find them for your child. Google search terms such as "dyslexia support group" or "dyslexia resource center." These organizations often have a website that lists the services they offer and how you can participate.
Some additional resources include:
The International Dyslexia Association a volunteer organization that provides information, resources and support for parents, kids, schools and policy makers.