When many people think of dyslexia, what comes to mind is a child having difficulty with reading and with letters getting mixed up. While this is true, it is only part of the story. Dyslexia not only affects reading, but often spelling and writing as well. It can be very frustrating for children with dyslexia to have to do a lot of reading and writing work. They understand the information; it just takes their brain longer to process it.
Evaluations and testing can identify dyslexia and enable children to receive the support and accommodations they need to overcome these challenges. Working with a therapist, they can learn different ways to master spelling, reading comprehension, writing and other issues. There are many people who have gone on to be highly successful despite having dyslexia, such as Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg, Tim Tebow, Anderson Cooper, Cher and author of Captain Underpants, Dave Pilkey.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a type of learning disability that affects how individuals process written and spoken language. Children with dyslexia are often slower readers than their peers and struggle with reading comprehension. They may have trouble recognizing sight words and are slowed down by sounding out each letter of a word. In addition, the letters may appear jumbled, squished together, or flipped around. Often children have trouble connecting letters and sounds fluently as they read. There are more than two million students in the United States between the ages of 3 and 21 who have learning disabilities, and many of them have dyslexia.
How Dyslexia Affects Your Child
Children with dyslexia struggle with reading and comprehension. They may also have trouble with spelling and writing because these tasks require similar skills. Many children with dyslexia shy away from reading and especially reading aloud. They may feel self-conscious or embarrassed of their difficulties. Coping with dyslexia means learning alternative ways of processing information and decoding words. Children often require more repetition and practice to master skills that come more easily to children without dyslexia. Having dyslexia does not mean a child is not intelligent – they are! – they just learn in a different way and have to work harder at reading and writing.
Causes of Dyslexia
Researchers are still unsure of the exact causes of dyslexia. They believe that there are genetic components as the condition often runs in families. There are multiple genes that play a role in reading and language processing. Brain development and activity may also contribute to the development of dyslexia. The structure of the brain may differ as well as how it functions to process information. There is also a small percentage of people who develop dyslexia following trauma, stroke or brain injury after birth. Scientists continue to research dyslexia to better understand its causes as well as potential treatments.
Symptoms that my Child has Dyslexia
Symptoms of dyslexia can vary from child to child. Some children are affected more severely than others or in different ways. Symptoms often become more apparent as more complex language skills are required. Many children do well with early reading and writing but struggle as tasks become more challenging and complex. Others struggle with basic skills such as recognizing letters, matching letters to sounds, rhyming, and pronouncing words correctly. Having trouble with these skills from time to time should not be cause for alarm, but when they become more persistent or prevalent, it may be a good idea to have your child evaluated for dyslexia or another learning disability. Common signs to look for include:
- Trouble blending sounds into words
- Mixing up the order of letters in a word
- Difficulty sounding out new words
- Problems with reading and spelling
- Struggles to remember facts
- Trouble remembering sequences (counting, days of the week)
Get a Comprehensive Dyslexia Assessment
Though there is no “cure” for dyslexia, with proper therapy and support, children can learn to cope with the challenges they face and be successful. If you are concerned about your child’s development and the difficulties they are having with reading, comprehension, writing, spelling, and learning new information, getting a comprehensive dyslexia assessment can be very beneficial. The staff at PediaPlex uses cognitive and language-based diagnostic assessment and also consults with parents, educators, and other significant people in the child’s life to gain more insight. Intellectual, reading, and language abilities are all evaluated and comprehensive narrative report is created detailing the results.
Once your child is evaluated, you will have a clearer understanding of their strengths and areas of need. A diagnosis of dyslexia can help them to get the supports and accommodations they need in school to maximize their education.