What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental problem that causes literacy difficulties. It can also causes problems with working memory, retaining information, organisation, and processing speed.
Dyslexia can also be called SpLD which stands for Specific Learning Difficulty.
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.
- Doesn't like reading out loud, prefers to read 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.
- Isn't progressing well in 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 children with dyslexia 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 children with dyslexia who have a phonological awareness problem.
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.See less...
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 dyslexia assessor diagnoses dyslexia. They talk to your child, run some simple tests, and then write a report with recommendations. Alternatively you can use a dyslexia screener to indicate if your child may have dyslexia. A good screener also contains a report with recommendations.
The following difficulties could be early indicators of dyslexia:
- Poor Phonological Awareness: This is the strongest predictor of dyslexia, and can be easily tested from about age Three. Not being able to play I 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 Naming Speed: Children with dyslexia will be very slow at rapid naming, e.g. quickly telling you what colour something is.
- Erratic Eye Movements: Poor eye tracking is another strong predictor of dyslexia.
- Poor Awareness of Rhythm and Rhyme: Difficulty copying a rhythm is another early sign of dyslexia.
- Speech and Language: Not hitting speech and language milestones.
Once in school the following are strong indicators of dyslexia:
- Difficulty distinguishing between letters like b and d.
- Difficulty learning the alphabet.
- Difficulty learning to read and write their name.
- Difficulty learning to read.
- Difficulty remembering how to spell words.
We have a Dyslexia Screener, 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.See less...
What Extra Help Can I Get if I have Dyslexia?
Your child can receive extra help without a formal diagnosis of dyslexia.
Schools can make reasonable adjustments, such as:
- 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