Special Needs, Tool Tips

What is Dyslexia?

What is Dyslexia?

Child with dyslexia stressed with flying letters
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If you’re a parent who suspects your child may have dyslexia, it’s important to learn about the wide spectrum of symptoms your child may experience to prevent problems later in life.

It can be a bit overwhelming when you suspect that your child might have dyslexia or if they recently received a diagnosis. What does it mean? How will this impact their education? What do I need to do to help them? These are just a few questions that might be running through your head.

First, this is a common diagnosis. In fact, it’s widespread. Someone in your friend circle likely has dyslexia, and you might not even know it. That’s because one in five people, according to the National Institute of Health and Yale University, have dyslexia.

The first thing people think of when they hear the word “dyslexia” is that it has something to do with writing words backward or struggling to read. This assumption makes sense since dyslexia is, first and foremost, a language disorder. However, there is much more to it than meets the eye. If you’re a parent who suspects your child may have dyslexia, it’s important to learn about the wide spectrum of symptoms your child may experience to prevent problems later in life. With early intervention and education, there’s no reason your child can’t thrive despite his or her diagnosis. Early intervention is key!

If you suspect the diagnosis, do not wait. Seek an evaluation. Anything Academic is here to help you find the resources you need to determine a path of success.

How Do I Know If My Child Has Dyslexia?

It’s not always easy to know if your child has dyslexia, so it often goes undiagnosed until adolescence or even adulthood. Dyslexia the Gift is a helpful website for families that provides a helpful list of 37 symptoms to help you decide whether or not to test for dyslexia, including:

  • Difficulty learning to read
  • Struggles to understand letter sounds
  • Complaining that he or she sees movement when reading
  • Struggles with written test-taking
  • Has vision problems
  • Does not comprehend what they read
  • Struggles with telling time and time management
  • Learns best through hands-on experience
  • May struggle with coordination, sense of direction, or writing and copying

No one knows the exact causes of dyslexia, but it seems hereditary, so if you have other family members with dyslexia, your child may also be more likely to have it. As noted by the International Dyslexia Association, boys and girls are equally likely to be affected.

How to Prepare for Dyslexic Students

If your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia, you may feel concerned and worried. Knowing what to expect will help you prepare to meet your child’s needs best. Here are three simple things you can do to prepare as a parent:

    1. Invest in Manipulatives: Dyslexic children tend to be hands-on learners. If you’re currently using a language-heavy curriculum (for example, one that heavily relies on reading textbooks and fireplace filling in workbooks), you’re probably setting yourself up for some struggles. Investing in manipulatives such as an abacus, letter tiles, or base ten blocks will go a long way in helping your child grasp abstract concepts and minimize frustration.
    2. Replace Writing With Speaking: Writing can be a real challenge for dyslexic students, so remember that if your child seems over-burdened with writing exercises, you can also do work orally. For example, if your child’s math workbook has a page full of addition problems, you could drill them orally instead of having your child write out every answer. Allowing your child to shine and show off their knowledge without struggling with the mechanism of delivering knowledge helps to build confidence and self-esteem.
    3. Research Curriculum: Not all curricula are created equal. Look for an Orton-Gillingham-based curriculum. When choosing a curriculum to use, ask yourself the following questions:
    • Does it allow for the use of manipulatives to teach concepts? That’s a great quality for children with dyslexia.
    • Do the materials provide visuals to help students grasp ideas? Dyslexic kids tend to learn by seeing and doing.
    • Are most of the work written? If so, your student might struggle. (Or not. Many dyslexic students who have intervened early can eventually read well. But this does not come easy or without a great deal of effort and training.)
    • Does it allow students to work at their own pace and gain mastery of each topic? Dyslexic students may thrive in one subject and struggle in another, so you should find a flexible curriculum.

How to Help Children with Dyslexia

Fortunately, doctors have learned so much about this condition, and there are many resources to help. Here are a few steps to take right here on Anything Academic if your child has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia:

    1. Find an Educational Therapist: If you’re struggling to teach your child, or if they are falling behind in school, consider hiring a professional to help. Educational speech or reading therapists work with children with various learning disorders, including dyslexia.
    2. Look for Support Groups: Facebook and other online forums are great places to look for other homeschooling parents of children with dyslexia. There may also be groups in your local area that are invaluable real-life resources. A simple search on Anything Academic will show you what’s available in your area.
    3. Educate Yourself: Read books, search the Internet, and look for local classes and workshops that might help you teach your child. Understanding your child’s condition is the most important step in helping them thrive with dyslexia. Homeschooling With Dyslexia is an amazing online resource for parents and even offers a Parent Dyslexia Training Course.

Find the Silver Lining

Dyslexia presents challenges, but it also comes with unexpected gifts. As noted in the excellent book, The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald Davis, dyslexic people tend to be highly creative, intuitive, imaginative, and highly aware of their environment. From Mohammed Ali to Henry Ford to Albert Einstein, some of the world’s greatest achievers also had dyslexia. And so, although determining how to educate your dyslexic child may seem like a daunting task, remember – they are in good company, and so are you!

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