Dyslexia Awareness Week – which runs from 7th-13th October – raises awareness about the issues dyslexics face on a daily basis so that families, friends and teachers can support them. It’s also about highlighting the fact that dyslexia is not connected with intelligence. It’s a neurological disorder affecting the parts of the brain which process language. Children with dyslexia have difficulties reading, writing and spelling. As part of dyslexia awareness we are going to focus on the signs of dyslexia and the action you can take if you think your child is dyslexic.
Although dyslexia is not diagnosed until a child learns to read, the signs can be spotted around the age of two. Dyslexia can be passed down in families, so if you have a family history you need to be particularly alert. It’s important to know that the signs detailed here do not necessarily mean a child is dyslexic. It’s just a question of flagging up a possible problem which might be confirmed later.
Possible signs are:
- Speech that isn’t as advanced as most other children the same age.
- Problems pronouncing familiar words.
- Lack of interest in learning the letters of the alphabet or obvious difficulty.
- Being unable to recognise rhyming patterns.
- Difficulties expressing themselves such as putting words together in the wrong order to form a sentence, or not remembering the right word to use.
Here’s what you can do to help:
- When addressing your child get their attention first by looking at them and saying their name. Wait for them to look at you before you speak.
- When giving verbal instructions, keep them simple and check your child has understood you.
- Ask your child fewer questions and emphasise the most important words in the sentence.
- Give your child time to think before they respond to your questions.
- When your child makes language errors model language by repeating what they have said back to them in the correct way.
- Play multi-sensory word building games. Write letters in sand, cut them out of playdough, put letters on pebbles and Duplo blocks. What are the letter names? What sounds do they make? Can you put three letters together to make a word?
- Sharpen your child’s visual processing skills in order to help them read and spell later on. Do puzzles and share books that require the child to search for hidden details in the illustrations such as Spot the Shark in the Ocean by Stella Maidment.
- Dyslexic children have problems with their working memory, so play memory games like matching pairs. Do activities that involve following instructions such as cooking or crafting.
- Play sorting and categorising games as dyslexics have difficulty in this area. Match socks, create repeating patterns with strings of beads, put toy cars in order by colour etc.
Dyslexia can be diagnosed around the age of 5 or 6, when a child learns to read. The earlier you spot dyslexia the better. That way strategies can be put in place to support your child which is vital for their self-esteem and all-round achievement.
Signs to look for are:
- Difficulty learning the sounds and names of the letters of the alphabet.
- Slow, error-filled reading because they can’t break words into component sounds or syllables.
- Complaining that words are blurred or moving on the page
- Cannot think of words that rhyme with other words.
- Spelling that is poor for their age.
- Reversing letters and figures that look familiar eg. ‘9’ instead of ‘6’ or ‘b’ instead of ‘d’.
- Writing letters in the wrong order when spelling words.
- Writing very slowly.
- Poor handwriting.
- Struggling to follow instructions.
- Problems learning sequences such as the letters of the alphabet, days of the week or months of the year.
We have a questionnaire that you can complete right now to find out whether your child is dyslexic.
I think my child is dyslexic – what now?
Involve professionals. Start by talking to your child’s teacher as they can arrange for extra reading and writing support for your child. At the same time talk to your doctor. Your doctor will check that your child does not have any health conditions such as hearing or vision problems that are preventing them from being able to read and write properly.
If your child continues to struggle, the SENCO (special educational needs coordinator) at your child’s school will support your child’s teacher to put strategies in place. At this point, they and/or you may decide to refer your child for assessment by a local authority dyslexic specialist or educational psychologist. The specialist will carry out a formal dyslexia diagnosis and, if needed, provide continuous assistance to your child’s teacher so that interventions are tailored to your child’s specific needs. They will also work with you on strategies to help at home.
In Cambridgeshire it takes between 6 and 12 months for an educational psychologist to visit. Count Out Dyslexia speeds up the process by providing a fast screening service which tests your child for dyslexia and other conditions with similar symptoms at the same time. Your assessor will discuss the results with you so that the right support is quickly put in place.
Extra reading and writing support
If you need reading and writing support for your child our sister company, TutorMyKids, can help you.
There’s no question that tailored, one-to-one tuition from a specialist dyslexic tutor will boost your child’s self-confidence, bolstering their attainment across all subjects.
British Dyslexia Association - https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/
NHS: Dyslexia - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dyslexia/symptoms/