What is dyslexia?
Helping children with dyslexia
Dyslexia is a type of learning disability. Since dyslexia has nothing to do with a person's intelligence, parents of children with dyslexia are often perplexed when their child does poorly in school or struggles to read a simple book. Is the child lazy? Inattentive? Not as clever as they seem?
If your child has dyslexia, you have probably asked yourself these questions as you watched your child struggle to keep up with other students. You may have also observed your child's frustration as their friends gain skills that are difficult for children with dyslexia to master. The good news is that today we know more than ever before about the condition and about ways to help children with dyslexia. You can make sure your child gets the help that's needed.
According to the British Dyslexia Association, 10% of us are dyslexic and 4% have severe dyslexia. Many of those with dyslexia are children in schools, meaning there is an average of at least one child with dyslexia in every classroom. Since reading is a key element in learning, children with dyslexia can have trouble mastering basic skills and succeeding in school.
Children with dyslexia have problems processing the information they see when looking at a word. Often a dyslexic child will have trouble connecting the sound made by a specific letter or deciphering the sounds of all the letters together that form a word. Given these challenges, children with dyslexia often also have trouble with writing, spelling, speaking and mathematics.
Signs and symptoms of dyslexia in children
Children with dyslexia can have mild to severe impairment. Signs of the condition vary widely from person to person. Young children with dyslexia may have the following signs and symptoms:
- Speech delay
- Pronunciation problems
- Difficulty rhyming words
- Impaired ability to learn basics such as the alphabet, colours and numbers
- Problems with handwriting and other fine motor skills
- Confusing letters such as "b" and "d" or the orders of letters within words
- Trouble learning the connection between letters and their sounds
An estimated 30% to 50% of people with dyslexia also show signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
In older children or adults with dyslexia, these other signs may appear:
- Trouble with reading and writing
- Ongoing trouble with schoolwork
- Difficulty learning a foreign language
- Poor handwriting
- Difficulty remembering numbers
- Trouble following a sequence of directions and telling left from right
Causes of dyslexia
Researchers have found that dyslexia is caused by a difference in the way the dyslexic brain processes information. Experts do not know precisely what causes dyslexia, but several recent studies now indicate that genetics plays a major role. If you or your partner has dyslexia, you are more likely to have children with dyslexia. Over the next few decades, we are likely to learn much more about dyslexia and how to treat it.