Maybe you’ve noticed your child writes “B”s in place of “D”s or perhaps says ‘belly jeans’ when they’ve meant to say ‘jelly beans’. While at first, these mistakes made you smile, now they make you anxious because you can’t help but wonder – Does my child have Dyslexia?
Dyslexia affects 1 out of every 10 people. Although prevalent, Dyslexia is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Though writing letters or words backwards, or out of place can be a symptom or sign of Dyslexia, it is not by any means a definitive sign that your child has dyslexia. Nor is it a required symptom that proves your child has Dyslexia. Dyslexia can present differently for different people, and its symptoms can change over time.
Children 6 Years and Younger
It can be hard to identify very young children with Dyslexia as they have not yet been formally exposed to reading and writing in school; however, there are some common characteristics of Dyslexia in young children.
Dyslexia in small children can present itself in delayed learning. Some small children with Dyslexia begin to talk later than their peers. They can have significant trouble pronouncing words and keeping words in their correct order. While every small child learning to talk mispronounces and misplaces words, a child with Dyslexia will struggle more often and for much longer than other children. This delay in learning is not limited to language development. Young children with Dyslexia also commonly have trouble learning shapes and numbers as well rhyming, reciting the alphabet, spelling their name, and following multi-step directions.
Identifying children with Dyslexia becomes a little easier as children enter primary school. Children in primary school are exposed to the three main areas of difficulty for children with Dyslexia- reading, writing, and maths. And, perhaps for the first time, children are regularly evaluated and observed on their abilities. Being able to monitor a child in relation to their peers gives an opportunity to identify when a child is truly struggling.
Dyslexia often affects a combination of reading, writing, and maths, although it does not necessarily have to. Some other signs of dyslexia in primary school are: a greater ability in listening comprehension than reading comprehension; difficulty distinguishing sounds and letters resulting in an inability to read unfamiliar words; poor spelling; and difficulty reading aloud. Symptoms of Dyslexia can also appear in children’s writing capabilities. Poor handwriting, difficulty grasping and holding pens, and letter inversions can all be symptoms of Dyslexia.
While children in secondary school will likely still exhibit the symptoms they did in primary school (for example, poor spelling) the daily tasks, and assignments of a child in secondary school are different than those in primary school, and thus their Dyslexia will affect them in new and different ways. Increased reading demands in addition to more advanced English assignments, like editing and summarising, are particularly difficult for children with Dyslexia. These children also find note-taking and open-ended questions to be particularly challenging. Dyslexic students at any age are often disorganised with poor time-management skills. Frequently these children will arrive to class without class materials or homework and will hand in incomplete assignments. These symptoms of Dyslexia are particularly prevalent in secondary school as students become more and more independent, and thus become more reliant on their own ability to stay organized.
I Think My Child has Dyslexia
If your child is exhibiting signs of Dyslexia, the best thing to do is to get your child assessed. Only through an assessment can a diagnosis be made and assistance be given. If you suspect your child has Dyslexia talk with their teacher to see if they have observed the same behaviors you have at home. After comparing notes with your child’s teacher, consider booking an educational assessment to determine if your child has Dyslexia.
In an educational assessment, an educational psychologist will complete a number of tests with your child to determine your child’s learning style as well as their particular strengths and weaknesses. Through this process, a psychologist will determine if your child has dyslexia or any other kind of learning difficulty and, if they do, how best to assist your child’s individual educational needs.
Getting a child the accommodations and help they need significantly improves their school performance and their self-esteem. Consistently failing to meet teacher and class expectations, whether those are academic or organisational expectations, can take a toll on students emotionally. Underperformance in school significantly affects children with Dyslexia often making them feel incapable. Over time these feelings compound and can have long-lasting effects on their self-image and mental health. For this reason, early identification and interventions are important. When given the materials necessary to succeed children with dyslexia fair just as well as children without learning disabilities.
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