What is Dyslexia?
People who struggle with reading, writing or spelling, despite normal intelligence, have dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental problem that causes literacy difficulties. It also causes problems with working memory, retaining information, organisation, and processing speed.
Dyslexia is also called SpLD which stands for Specific Learning Disorder.
Dyslexia can be mild or severe. Everyone's dyslexia is different.
Children with dyslexia either cannot learn to read, or were very slow to learn to read.
When they do read they will not be as fluent or accurate as someone without dyslexia. They will probably also read very slowly. Severe dyslexia is noticeable when a child starts school and is unable to learn to read, but other people have much more mild dyslexia and are 16 or even older before they realise they have it.
You should suspect dyslexia if your child has some of the following signs:
- Is poor at reading and / or spelling.
- Was slow to learn to read – particularly if they were slower to learn to read than their siblings.
- Won't ever read out loud and insists on reading in their head.
- Moves their lips when reading silently.
- Makes mistake when reading or finds it hard.
- Gets tired from reading.
- Reads slowly.
- Can't understand what they've read.
- Hates reading and avoids it.
- Refuses to read out loud.
- Seems to be very bright, but isn't doing well at school.
Another trait of dyslexics is that they can choose not to read. For example if there are subtitles on a movie they can choose not to read them, whereas people without dyslexia can't do that, they have to read a word when they see it.See less...
Reading and Phonological Awareness
Phonological Awareness is key to learning to read.
Phonological awareness is the ability to identify individual sounds in words. For example the word goat contains 3 sounds g - oa - t.
Currently all UK schools teach reading using phonics, which is a great way to teach reading. However if your child has been taught using phonics, and is not reading well, it is unlikely that a different phonics scheme will help them - until they improve their phonological awareness.
A lot of websites claim there is a way to teach dyslexics to read, unfortunately it is not as simple as that. These websites are usually referring to teaching phonics (UK), or an Orton Gillingham scheme (USA). While these are both good ways to teach reading, they don't work for all children - even if their dyslexia is identified early. In particular they often don't work for dyslexic children who have a phonological awareness problem.
Playing Fluency Builder improves phonological awareness.
It is important to measure how much progress your child is making. If they're not making enough progress, then stop that scheme and try something else. If they've already been taught using phonics, and it hasn't worked, it's not likely that a different phonics scheme will help, you will need to try something else.1. Reading Disability and the Brain
Children with dyslexia have a lot of problems with spelling. Often spelling the same word three different ways in a single page. English is such a strange language, there are no rules to follow. Children need to memorise the spelling of every word.
Erratic eye movements are the main reason dyslexic children struggle with spelling. Spelling relies on good eye control even more than reading does. To spell you need to see every letter in a word, whereas you can often read a word without seeing every single letter.
Playing Engaging Eyes reduces erratic eye movements.
Phonics will not teach your child to spell correctly, nor will reading more. They really need to memorise how to spell every single word.
Spaced repetition is the key to memory and recall. Spaced repetition is testing the same word over and over again, with longer and longer gaps between tests.
Our Spelling Tutor program uses this proven method to teach your child to spell.See less...
What Can I do to Help?
Dyslexia is caused by a neurodevelopment problem. But the brain has plasticity - it can be changed. Therefore there are lots of things you can do to help your child.
Children with dyslexia usually have an auditory problem called The Phonological Deficit. This means they aren't able to hear the different sounds in words. They can't hear that the word goat contains three sounds.
Children with dyslexia often also have a problem with their eye movements. They aren't able to focus both eyes on the same letter and then track across the page.
These auditory and vision problems are part of the reason dyslexics find reading so hard. But there are also other factors and things you can try.
Who Diagnoses Dyslexia?
In the UK an Educational Psychologist or a dyslexia assessor diagnoses dyslexia. They talk to your child, run some simple tests, and then write a report with recommendations.
School may pay for a full diagnosis, or you may have to get an assessment done privately. School may do a screening test instead of paying for a full diagnosis.
Generally you can't get a formal diagnosis of dyslexia until your child is 7, however the following indicators of dyslexia can be observed much earlier:
- Poor Phonological Awareness: This is the strongest predictor of dyslexia, and can be easily tested from about age Three. Not being able to play Eye Spy, i.e. not being able to name an object that starts with the 'b' sound is due to poor phonological awareness. Not understanding rhymes is another indicator.
- Rapid Automatic Naming: Children with dyslexia will be very slow at rapid automatic naming, e.g. quickly telling you what colour something is.
- Erratic Eye Movements: Poor eye tracking is another strong predictor of dyslexia.
- Poor Rhythm: Difficulty copying a rhythm is another early sign of dyslexia.
They may also have have various speech and language problems, either with pronouncing words or with using words.
And of course the biggest, and most important indicator of dyslexia, is learning difficulties:
- Difficulty learning the alphabet.
- Difficulty learning to read and write their name.
- Difficulty learning to read.
- Difficulty distinguishing between letters like b and d.
The fact your child is finding school hard may be a big surprise to you because they seem to be very bright. Frequently people with dyslexia are incredibly bright.
If you suspect your child is dyslexic, but they are too young for an official diagnosis, do not worry. A diagnosis doesn't bring anything with it besides the knowledge that your child is dyslexic. If your child is having difficulty learning to read and write all schools will do the best they can to teach them.
Knowing they are dyslexic doesn't give the school any extra information - or money - to teach them. This is the best the school can do for your child.
There are tips and techniques available on the internet to help all dyslexic children. Teachers can find this information without your child having a diagnosis.
Schools have an SEN budget, but it is not linked to an individual child or the number of diagnosed children they have on roll.
Although not genetic, dyslexia does tend to run in families. So if there is dyslexia in your family it is more likely your child has it.
We have a Dyslexia Screening Test, which tells you if it is likely that your child has dyslexia. It also recommends things you can do straight away to help your child.3. Rhythm production at school entry as a predictor of poor reading and spelling at the end of first grade
What is the Benefit of a Diagnosis?
Knowing your child has dyslexia allows you to research it and find things that will help and overcome it.
It allows you, your child, and their teacher to better understand why they struggle and what they struggle with.
Most children with dyslexia also have other neurodevelopment problems, like ADHD, Dyspraxia or Asperger's. An Educational Psychologist can't test for these other problems, so this report won't tell you the whole story about your child's difficulties.
What Extra Help Can I Get if I have Dyslexia?
This varies country to country, and school to school. You may get:
- A reader or writer to help you in exams
- Extra time
- To use a laptop
- Extra reading / writing tuition
- Rest breaks
- Less homework
- Not being asked to copy off the board
But it depends on the severity of your dyslexia, and the attitude of your school.
This help is available without a formal diagnosis of dyslexia if your school thinks you child needs it. Your child can receive extra help without a diagnosis of dyslexia the school just has to apply for it.
Dyslexia almost never exists by itself. Most children with dyslexia also have other difficulties. The most common related issues are dyspraxia and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)
It's important that you also investigate whether your child has another condition. It's too easy to say it's all down to dyslexia when your child could benefit from other support. ...