Children learn to read at their own pace but if your child is struggling to make significant progress as compared to their peers, it may be possible they have a reading disability called dyslexia. According to Mayo Clinic, “Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how to relate to letters and words. Dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language” (www.mayoclinic.org)
Symptoms of dyslexia may include:
- Speech delay, trouble learning words, problems forming words correctly or reversing sounds or words that sound alike
- Reading well below the expected level for age, difficulty with spelling, difficulty reading aloud
- Trouble remembering sequences or identifying rhyming words, reversing letters or numbers
- Spending an unusually long time completing tasks that invoice reading and writing or avoiding these activities.
People who struggle with dyslexia have normal intelligence and can succeed in school and careers with proper tutoring and support. So how do you go about helping your child succeed?
- Ask for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan. In most states, schools are required to provide specialized support for kids diagnosed with dyslexia. Talk to your child’s teachers about setting up a meeting with educators to help your child be successful at school.
- Keep in contact with your child’s teacher. If parents and teachers work together, it is easier to support your child through the challenges they may be facing when it comes to homework and school. Check in often with your child’s teacher regularly and encourage them to reach out if the interventions put in place don’t seem to be helping your child make adequate growth.
- Consider tutoring. Individual help from a tutor can really give your child a boost in their reading skills because it can be tailored to your child’s needs and learning style.
- Early intervention has been proven to help kids struggling with dyslexia. As soon as you notice a problem, talk to your child’s doctor.
- Encourage reading. Take turns reading aloud to your child, model good reading habits, and add reading to everyday activities (cooking, games, or instructions). Turn off electronics and add reading time of your day.
- Encourage your child’s efforts and be supportive of them as they work through challenges.
- Talk to them about what they are struggling with and discuss ideas that will help solve problems they may be facing.
- Join a support group or see a counselor. Having people around you that understand what you are going through and offer support can be a big help as your learn how to be a support your child.
- Support learning at home. Provide a clean, organized, and quiet place to study and offer help as needed.
If you believe your child may have dyslexia, talk to your doctor about testing, resources, and support. There is no single test that can determine if your child has dyslexia. Your doctor may use a combination of questionnaires, medical history, psychological evaluations, and academic testing to determine if your child has dyslexia. Early intervention and a good partnership between parents and teachers are key to helping kids feel confident and successful in school and in future careers.