Dyslexia is a specific learning disability in reading. Kids with dyslexia have trouble reading accurately and fluently. They may also have trouble with reading comprehension, spelling and writing. Raising a child with dyslexia is a journey. As you move through it, you’ll gain a lot of knowledge about your child’s challenges with reading—and about the many ways you can help her succeed at school and in life.
If you’re concerned your child may have dyslexia, here are some steps you can take. And if you’ve just gotten a dyslexia diagnosis or school identification, learn what you can do next.This overview can answer many of your basic questions. It can also lead you to more in-depth information about this common learning issue.
Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that makes it difficult for people to read. It’s the most common learning issue, although it’s not clear what percentage of kids have it. Some experts believe the number is between 5 and 10 percent. Others say as many as 17 percent of people show signs of reading issues. The reason for the wide range is that experts may define dyslexia in different ways. Dyslexia is mainly a problem with reading accurately and fluently. Kids with dyslexia may have trouble answering questions about something they’ve read. But when it’s read to them, they may have no difficulty at all. Dyslexia can create difficulty with other skills as well, including reading comprehension, spelling, writing, and math.
It’s important to know that while dyslexia impacts learning, it’s not a problem of intelligence. Kids with this issue are just as smart as their peers. Many people have struggled with dyslexia and gone on to have successful careers. That includes a long list of actors, entrepreneurs and elected officials.People sometimes believe dyslexia is a visual issue. They think of it as kids reversing letters or writing backwards. But dyslexia is not a problem with visionor with seeing letters in the wrong direction.
If your child has dyslexia, she won’t outgrow it. But there are supports, teaching approaches and strategies to help her overcome her challenges. Dyslexia impacts people in varying degrees, so symptoms may differ from one child to another. Generally, symptoms show up as problems with accuracy and fluency in reading and spelling. But in some kids, dyslexia can impact writing, math and language, too.
A key sign of dyslexia in kids is trouble decoding words. This is the ability to match letters to sounds and then use that skill to read words accurately and fluently. One reason kids have difficulty decoding is that they often struggle with a more basic language skill called phonemic awareness. This is the ability to recognize individual sounds in words. Trouble with this skill can show up as early as preschool. Read about how phonological awareness, phonemic awareness and phonics are related.
Another potential sign is when kids avoid reading, both out loud and to themselves. Kids may even get anxious or frustrated when reading. This can happen even after they’ve mastered the basics of reading.In some kids, dyslexia isn’t picked up until later on, when they have trouble with more complex skills. These may include grammar, reading comprehension, reading fluency, sentence structure and more in-depth writing.
Signs of dyslexia can look different at different ages. Here are some examples of signs of dyslexia:
Preschool: Has trouble recognizing whether two words rhyme; struggles with taking away the beginning sound from a word; struggles with learning new words; has trouble recognizing letters and matching them to sounds.
Grade School: Has trouble taking away the middle sound from a word or blending several sounds to make a word; often can’t recognize common sight words; quickly forgets how to spell many of the words she studies; gets tripped up by word problems in math.
Middle School: Makes many spelling errors; frequently has to re-read sentences and passages; reads at a lower academic level than how she speaks.
High School: Often skips over small words when reading aloud; doesn’t read at the expected grade level; strongly prefers multiple-choice questions over fill-in-the-blank or short answer.
So what do you do if you think your child may have dyslexia? While the first step is to get a professional diagnosis from a doctor, there are many things parents can do to support children with dyslexia. As the parent, you are your child’s number-one source of support. From working with the school to working on reading skills, you can help give your child the tools and motivation to succeed in school and in life. Here are some ideas:
Here are just some of the things you can do:
- Get tips for teaching your child to learn sight words.
- Explore ways to improve your child’s reading comprehension.
- Find ways to help your child connect letters to sounds in everyday activities.
- Discover software, apps and Chrome tools to help with reading.
- Look into where to find free audiobooks for your child.
- See what your child can say to self-advocate in grade school and middle school.
- Learn how to be an advocate for your child at school.
- Discover your child’s strengths.
For more ideas, explore a collection of strategies to help. And be sure to visit Parenting Coach, where you’ll find hundreds of age-specific, practical tips to work through social, emotional and behavioral challenges.
It’s important for you to have support, too:
- Connect and trade tips with other parents in our online community.
- Reach out to experts through our free Experts Live events.
- Learn about Parent Training and Information Centers, a free local resource.
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