What is Dyslexia? Is My Child Dyslexic?

Dyslexia is an umbrella term for language-based reading difficulties. Reading difficulties are as diverse as children themselves.

Students with dyslexia struggle with connecting the sounds letters make to the symbols that make them. This struggle can look drastically different in every single student. It is important to remember that dyslexia is not caused by bad parenting or bad teaching. Scientific research and brain scans show that dyslexia is caused by differing brain connectivity in dyslexic readers. Dyslexics are “born different” and they simply read and learn differently. There is also a strong genetic component to dyslexia.

Many parents fear a dyslexia diagnosis for their child. The term dyslexia often brings to mind reversed letters and a lifetime of disordered reading. Other parents worry about labeling their child or dealing with stigma related to learning disabilities. The reality is that dyslexia is extraordinarily common and is more complicated than just backwards letters. It is estimated that 5-20% of the population shows evidence of reading struggles. Dyslexia is also the most common learning disability – making up 80-90% of all learning disabilities in children.

The good news is even though a dyslexic brain cannot be changed, good teaching can help remedy dyslexia. A well trained teacher can teach in such a way that the dyslexic brain can access the joys of reading and writing. Dyslexia learners simply learn differently, so they must be taught differently!

How can I tell if my child is dyslexic?

In order to get an official diagnosis of dyslexia, students need a formal evaluation by a psychologist. Unfortunately, these tests can be costly, lengthy and difficult to schedule in a timely manner. While helpful, it is not necessary to get a formal diagnosis in order to get help for your child. Any student who has trouble decoding words may have dyslexia. Because dyslexics are so different from each other, one child might have very different struggles from another. Dyslexia also exists on a spectrum. Some students are so mildly dyslexic they still do well in school but their disability may mean the difference between getting an B instead of an A.

Students with mild dyslexia often “fool” their teachers into thinking they are doing fine in reading when in fact they are working much harder than their peers who do not have reading issues.Other students have more severe dyslexia and need more remediation in order to learn basic skills.

Does dyslexia go away?

Dyslexia is a genetic brain-based learning disorder that children are born with. Dyslexia does not go away, but the right teaching can help students be just as successful as their peers. It is for this reason that students should get reading remediation as soon as they start to notice their child may be behind. The longer dyslexia goes untreated, the harder it is to remedy as older students are expected to have mastered basic phonics skills.

Signs of Dyslexia may include:

Pre-School Age

  • Child was late to talk
  • Has trouble remembering new words
  • Has trouble remembering letter names or sounds, numbers or color
  • Difficulty with rhyming
  • Mispronouncing words
  • Trouble with sequences

School Age

  • Reads below expected level
  • Has trouble sounding out new words
  • Has trouble remembering vowel sounds
  • Poor spelling
  • Reading slowly or too quickly and skipping words
  • Difficulty with math “word” problems
  • Avoids reading or writing tasks
  • Guessing new words or relying on pictures
  • Struggling with letters that look similar (b,d, p,q, s,z)

Not all students with dyslexia have all of these struggles. It is important to get an accurate assessment by a qualified dyslexia specialist to determine the best course of action. Please set up a consultation with The Reading Guru or another qualified Orton-Gillingham dyslexia tutor to find out whether your child is dyslexic and needs help.

Reading and writing are so important to becoming a successful member of society. Students that do not get help with their reading may experience:

  • Lower academic performance
  • Difficulty on tests
  • Difficulty with all other subjects that require reading (math, science, history, social studies, etc)
  • Poor self esteem
  • Low grades
  • Difficulty in college and in the job world
Joanna Brown, The Reading Guru

Joanna Brown

Joanna Brown, M.S. Ed, C-SLDS, is a master reading teacher with 15 years of experience, and has helped hundreds of children crack the reading code. She offers one-on-one, live, online, individualized Orton-Gillingham-based reading tutoring to students of all ages and skill levels, worldwide, including those with dyslexia.

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