What is Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning disability. It affects your child’s ability to process language. Having dyslexia does not mean that your child is less intelligent.

Children with dyslexia most often struggle with reading. They may also have trouble writing or even pronouncing certain words. This can cause problems in school or social settings.

What are the causes?

The exact cause of dyslexia in children is not known. Genes may play a role. Sometimes, a head injury or brain injury can lead to dyslexia.

What increases the risk?

Children may have a higher risk for dyslexia if there is a family history of dyslexia.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms of dyslexia may include:

  • Trouble learning and remembering letters and numbers.
  • Trouble learning to read.
  • Reading slowly.
  • Reading out loud.
  • Guessing at words that are not known.
  • Trouble pronouncing words, especially sound-alikes.
  • Not understanding what was read.
  • Not remembering words and what they mean.
  • Trouble with spelling.
  • Problems with writing.
  • Not understanding rhyming.
  • Confusing numbers like “6” and “9.”
  • Confusing letters like “b” and “d.”
  • Changing the order of letters in a word.
  • Not being able to find one’s place while reading.

Children with dyslexia may also have trouble:

  • Learning left and right.
  • Telling time.
  • Following directions that have more than one step.
  • Focusing for long periods of time.
  • Solving math problems.
  • Naming objects, even though they can recognize and point to an object.
  • With behavioral issues, such as hyperactivity. This may be due to frustration.

How is this diagnosed?

Your child’s health care provider may suspect dyslexia based on your child’s signs, symptoms, and family history. You will likely be referred to a specialist who has experience in diagnosing dyslexia. Usually, a psychologist or reading specialist makes the diagnosis. This may include a formal assessment done at your child’s school or the specialist’s office. The assessment checks your child’s skills in:

  • Reading.
  • Spelling.
  • Math.

How is this treated?

There is no cure for dyslexia. It affects each child differently. Treatment focuses on supporting your child’s specific developmental and educational needs. Treatment is most successful when it is started early and used consistently.

You should begin reading with your child. Let your child pick out the books that he or she would like to read. Ask your child about what is being read.

In elementary school, it is important for children with dyslexia to work on:

  • Vocabulary.
  • Reading comprehension.
  • Spelling.
  • Names of letters and the sounds that they make.
  • Breaking up words into syllables or their separate parts.

Helpful classroom strategies for children with dyslexia may include:

  • Testing without time limits.
  • Taking oral tests instead of written tests.
  • Taking few or no spelling tests.
  • Not having to read aloud in front of the class. If your child must read aloud, help him or her practice the reading assignment ahead of time.
  • Grading on content, not on spelling or grammar.
  • Avoiding copying tasks.
  • Avoiding or reducing essay tests.

In middle school, high school, and college, your child may need other arrangements. These may include:

  • Using a tape recorder in the classroom.
  • Having a laptop computer that has a spell-checker.
  • Having access to recorded lecture and class notes.
  • Listening to recorded books.
  • Taking oral tests instead of multiple-choice tests.
  • Having a separate, quiet room for test taking.
  • Requesting that material be presented in small batches.
  • Having help with learning to solve problems using logic rather than just memory.

Medicine does not help dyslexia. However, your child’s health care provider may give medicines for hyperactivity or problems with attention span. If your child has behavioral issues, counseling may help.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Give medicines only as directed by your child’s health care provider.
  • Work closely with your child’s teachers. This helps you monitor your child’s performance at school. It also helps you make sure that you are using the same strategies as your child’s teachers.
  • Work with a reading specialist, if possible.
  • Read out loud to your child or use books on tape.
  • Look for books with large type and wide spaces between lines.
  • Provide a quiet place for your child to study.
  • Make time for your child to read.
  • Support your child emotionally. Talk with your child to make sure he or she is not frustrated or unhappy at school.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Recommended learning methods are not helping. Your child may qualify for special education.
  • Your child is very discouraged or wants to quit school.

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