Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty in which a person has difficulties with language and words such as reading and spelling. Having dyslexia is not a reflection of intelligence and more often than not children can achieve well in other areas if they are given the correct support. A good example of the kind of support a dyslexic child might need would be conducting tests orally or giving the child audio tapes to learn from.
Some of the symptoms of dyslexia in a preschool and primary age child could include:
- Delayed speech.
- Problems with pronunciation.
- Problems with rhyming words and learning rhymes.
- Difficulty with learning shapes, colours and how to write their own name.
- Difficulty with retelling a story in the right order of events.
- Problems with reading a single word.
- Regularly confuses certain letters when writing, e.g.’ and ‘b’ or ‘m’ and ‘w’.
- Regularly writes words backwards, such as writing ‘pit’ when the word ‘tip’ was intended.
- Problems with grammar, such as learning prefixes or suffixes.
- Doesn’t like reading books.
- Reads below their expected level.
Although these symptoms are known to be linked with specific learning disorders such as dyslexia, it is still quite difficult to diagnose unless the problem is severe. If you are concerned about your child it is important to seek advice from specialist educational psychologists or speech therapists that can test a range of factors including vocabulary, language processing, and literacy skills.
The exact cause of dyslexia is unknown, but there are theories supporting a neurological basis or a genetic link. Some of the reading and writing difficulties dyslexic individuals face may also be partly caused or enhanced by contributing factors such as:
- Health – for example, the person may have health issues that have interfered with their language development and writing ability, such as deafness or visual problems.
- Language – for example, a child from a non-English speaking background usually takes longer to master speech, reading and writing in both languages.
- Education – the person may have missed out on educational opportunities; for example, a chronic illness may have kept them out of school for long periods of time.
- Behavioural or developmental disorders – for example, the person may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which can cause learning problems.
There is no cure for learning disorders, however various treatment options can be specialised to help your child reach their full potential. Some treatments include:
- One-to-one tutoring from a specialist educator
- Phonics based reading program that teaches the link between spoken and written sounds.
- Taking a multisensory approach to learning, this means using a variety of learning tools which activate all the different senses like watching, touching, speaking, and listening.