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Dyslexia in Children

By Jamell Andrews

Dyslexia is an impairment of the brain that causes difficulty with translating written images into language. It is one of the most misunderstood learning disabilities in the United States, and it is also the most common one. It is believed that dyslexia affects approximately 15% of the United States population, though everyone who is affected by this disorder is not properly diagnosed.

Contrary to popular belief, dyslexia generally occurs in children who have normal intelligence and vision. Some children with this neurological disorder have normal speech patterns as well, but the majority of them do have some problems interpreting written words and spoken language.

Symptoms

The symptoms of dyslexia are often hard to recognize, especially before a child is old enough to start attending school. Children with dyslexia can be helped at any age, but it is always best to diagnose them as early as possible. Some symptoms (or signs) that a very young child might have dyslexia include the following:

  • Problems rhyming
  • Late to start talking
  • Slow to add new words to his or her vocabulary
  • For school age children, the symptoms of dyslexia become much more obvious.
  • Difficulty following multiple commands at one time
  • Problems with spelling
  • Difficulty learning a foreign language
  • Reading far below the expected level
  • Seeing numbers or letters in reverse
  • Difficulty processing and comprehending what is being heard
  • Problems sounding out the pronunciation of words that are unfamiliar
  • Difficulty remembering the sequence, or order of things
  • Problems understanding rapid instructions

Treatment

Unfortunately, the brain disorder that causes dyslexia cannot be cured or corrected, so treatment must be in the form of a variety of remedial education programs. The particular programs that are administered should be determined by a qualified psychologist, who will conduct testing to determine a child’s level of impairment.

Teachers who specialize in some aspect of special education often teach the classes that dyslexic children need to take. The different techniques that are utilized in the classroom include touch, vision, and hearing approaches in an effort to improve a child’s reading skills and abilities. Reading specialists may focus on five specific areas that are important in order for children to learn effective reading skills.

  • Reading comprehension
  • Oral reading ability
  • Phonemic awareness (basic speech sounds that are often difficult for dyslexic children to grasp)
  • Building a vocabulary
  • Phonic (speech) recognition

In some cases, parents may want to hire a tutor to help their child to develop reading and speech skills. Children who have severe dyslexia are likely to have ongoing problems with reading and may not ever be able to develop really good reading capabilities. When this is the case with a child, it is best for parents to have their child keep regular appointments with a therapist, and to provide ongoing educational support through the assistance of a tutor for help with the learning process.

One of the most important things that parents can do is provide a supportive and caring environment for a child with dyslexia. Making it easy and stress-free for children with dyslexia to learn makes them more comfortable and helps tremendously with the learning process.

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