Learning to read is a complex process that involves the brain working to identify and blend sounds into words. According to the PubMed Health website, when a child has the learning disability, dyslexia, the part of the brain used in reading is unable to efficiently process the basic sounds of speech, known as phonemes.
The dyslexic child struggles to connect the sound and the alphabet letter symbol for that sound and then to blend the sounds into a word. When a dyslexic child reads aloud it sounds like slow and laborious work.
In fact, since it takes a student with dyslexia so much time to sound out a word, the meaning is often lost. As a result, comprehension for these students is below grade level. Since dyslexia is a language processing disorder, it can also affect a child’s writing, spelling or speaking.
Dyslexia often runs in families and can be detected by teachers and parents in several ways. According to PubMed Health, a student may have poor reading, but also poor writing, spelling, and speaking skills despite average or above average intelligence.
A dyslexic student may have trouble remembering the names of everyday objects or memorizing lists of words or numbers. Difficulty with maps and directions or telling left from right may also be a problem.
The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) recommends beginning diagnosis for this learning disability with a wellness exam that includes hearing and vision tests. Your family doctor will then make a referral to a child or school psychologist, or learning specialist who will administer assessments to measure language, reading, writing, and spelling abilities.
IDA reminds parents that under federal law, any student diagnosed with a learning disability must receive resource assistance from the school system in the form of a specially-trained teacher or reading tutor.
Technology also offers additional support for dyslexic students. Older students may have audio versions of their textbooks available. Writing assignments can be modified through the use of a computer and spell check program.
Computer software is available that reads back a student’s own writing to help in the writing process. Other software reads printed material aloud. Don’t hesitate to discuss any of these services with your teacher to help your child deal with dyslexia.
IDA also urges parents and teacher to remember that with the right program, early detection, and concern and support, dyslexic students can learn to read and write well.
PubMed Health. Developmental Reading Disorder. Web. 30, Nov. 2011
International Dyslexia Association. Basic Facts Sheet. Web. 30, Nov. 2011.
Reviewed December 1, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith