Does your child find it difficult to read? Does her writing look strange?
Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that manifests in the difficulty to read and to write. This is a simplistic definition, but it makes sense to most parents of dyslexic children. Dyslexia is the most common learning disability, and affects children’s performance in school negatively if no remedial or assistive measures are taken.
Dyslexics are not dumb!
In fact, quite the opposite. There are many famous scientists and inventors who were dyslexics. Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and W.B Yeats are some of the very famous people who were dyslexic. Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence. On the contrary, dyslexics can actually be quite intelligent. Also, dyslexia is not a problem with vision or attitude. Therefore, it will be a gross injustice to brand people with dyslexia as dumb or just plain lazy. In fact, with the right kind of assistance and support, dyslexics can do very well in personal life and professional career.
Watch out for the following signs and symptoms to know if your child is affected by dyslexia.
Dyslexia symptoms in preschool children
Even before a child starts school, dyslexia may manifest as
Delay in speech development when compared to peers
Speech problems such as jumbling up phrases or not being able to pronounce long words ( for example, saying ‘beddy tear’ instead of ‘teddy bear’)
Difficulty to express themselves in spoken language (for example, not being able to put sentences together)
Inability to appreciate nursery rhymes or rhyming in general
Lack of interest and difficulty in learning the letters of the alphabet
Dyslexia symptoms in school children
Once the child enters school, the symptoms become more obvious. Dyslexics typically show
Difficulty learning the sounds and names of letters
Reversal of letters and figures such as b and d, 6 and 9
Confusion regarding the order of letters in words
Tendency to avoid reading, reading slowly or making mistakes while reading aloud
Reporting of visual disturbances while reading ( for example, children may describe letters as moving or blurred)
Difficulty to write down answers to questions (despite knowing the answers)
Difficulty to carry out a sequence of directions
Difficulty to learn sequences such the days of the week
Slow writing speed
Problems copying written language
Poor phonological awareness ( the ability to break words down into sounds or phonemes)
Poor word attack skills ( the ability to break a complex or compound word into constituent parts, for example ‘sunbathing’)
Dyslexia symptoms in older children
Inability to express what one wants to say, especially in writing. Older dyslexic children often know what a composition question means and have ideas, but they do not get the right words to express.
Difficulty to plan and organize essays, reports or letters. (Some students may overcome this difficulty given more time to finish the task.)
Difficulty to take notes or to copy
Difficulty to remember telephone numbers
Problems in meeting deadlines
Problems sometimes associated with dyslexia
There are certain conditions that sometimes co-exist with dyslexia. These may or may not be related to learning or academic achievement. These conditions are as follows:
Dysgraphia ( severe writing difficulties such as illegible handwriting, slow and labored writing, mixing print and cursive letters, spacing letters and words oddly, very poor spelling and grammar, difficulty gripping a pencil, incorrect punctuation, run-on sentences, difficulty organizing information when writing)
Dyscalculia (difficulties with numbers). This is seen as the mathematical equivalent of dyslexia. Children affected with dyscalculia have difficulty understanding numbers, manipulating numbers, learning mathematical facts and performing calculations.
poor short-term memory
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and minor problems with attention span
poor organization and time management skills
Dyspraxia or Development Co-ordination Disorder (physical co-ordination problems). Dyspraxia manifests as difficulties with self-care, typing, writing, riding a bike and other educational and recreational activities.
Being diagnosed with dyslexia should not hinder any child from doing well in school or in other areas of life. For parents of dyslexic children there are many avenues open, to seek help. There are reading programs specifically designed to help children with dyslexia such as The Orton-Gillingham Approach, Preventing Academic Failure (PAF) and The Lindamood-Bell Program. British Dyslexia Association helps with screening of dyslexia and even a shop that offers assisting products.