The Ins and Outs of Dyslexia
What is dyslexia
Dyslexia, also known as a reading disorder, impacts a person’s ability to read. Different people are affected in different degrees, but generally, about 25% of the population has some sort of difficulties when learning to read.
The problems may include difficulties when reading, writing, spelling and pronouncing words. Because of lower reading speed, reading comprehension is often affected as well.
Because of the difficulties, dyslexic children often cannot meet reading targets set in traditional educational systems, putting them at a disadvantage. This often makes dyslexic children feel inadequate and stupid, which leads to additional behavioral or social psychological issues, that accompany dyslexia. These usually result in children hating reading, as they are not good at it, leading to lower academic scores.
Arguably, these psychological issues are far worse than dyslexia itself. Luckily, there are solutions for these problems and with some motivation and patience, the child can avoid them altogether and minimize the impact of dyslexia on his academic and life successes.
How can we recognize dyslexia?
There are several signs you can be watchful for, but here are some of the big ones:
- The first sign that you can look for is the teacher’s opinion. Is she labeling your child as “uninterested”, “lazy” or “not trying hard enough”? That could be a sign of dyslexia. Children who struggle with learning to read often appear uninterested. This is a natural defensive mechanism. People are not interested in something they know they cannot do well. Therefore, a child who struggles to read, will naturally back away from the problem and will appear uninterested in learning to read.
- Another sign is that the child tests well orally, but struggles when taking written tests.
- The third sign is that the child loses focus easily, or spaces out often. Although that is generally an issue with kids, so careful you don’t label your child as a dyslexic too quickly. Children often space out as everything is usually more interesting than what they should be doing.
- Another sign you can look for is the child’s reluctance to read. Is your child experiencing dizziness or a stomach ache every time you try to get him to read something? It might be his mind trying to avoid doing something it knows he won’t be successful at.
When can dyslexia be successfully diagnosed?
Signs of dyslexia can emerge pretty early in childhood. If a child does not speak until he or she is two years old, this is a pretty good indication the kid will be diagnosed with dyslexia.
The signs become more apparent when the child is 5 or 6 years old.
Unfortunately, there is no standardized dyslexia test, so you will need to rely on your doctor’s opinion on this one. Often, school teachers also have a lot of knowledge on the subject, so you can ask them for advice.
Because of the additional psychological issues developing over time, problems regarding dyslexia can be almost entirely avoided if dyslexia is diagnosed in its early stages. Depending on the severity of dyslexia, a child will still have problems with reading, but with the right support, this will not result in behavioral or social issues. This means the child will be able to cope with the illness much better than if the diagnosis comes later in childhood.
What if I suspect my child has dyslexia?
First of all, do not wait for the official diagnosis. The system is rigid and the diagnosis takes time. Time your child does not have if he is to avoid additional issues. Instead, try taking the strain out of reading. There are several tools you can use.
Kobi, for example, is a mobile app for both Android and iOS, which uses an innovative color-coding method to help the child read. The colored letters help the child read faster and more accurately, which motivates him/her to read more. This results in longer and effortless reading sessions. And reading practice is exactly what your child needs.
What if my kid thinks he or she is stupid?
Children are great at spotting small stuff. They can immediately sense that they are lagging behind their peers. Unfortunately, it is much more difficult for them to understand or accept that they have a learning disability.
Try talking to them and make sure they understand this is not their fault. You can also try to engage a great teacher or a specialist who is used to talking to children and explaining what a learning disorder is. Teachers work with children every day, so try talking to them and make sure they are sensitive about how they talk and interact with your child in the class.
Pay special attention to the vibe you are sending. Children can sense, whether you are honest or not. So instead of saying “for your mommy, you are the best at reading”, try “Mommy is worried as well, but together, we can do this.”
Do not compare your child to his peers. Dyslexic children usually hate the comparison, since it’s the comparison to others that made them “different” in the first place. They can’t read as well as others, they can’t spell as well as others. Everything is based on comparison to others. Try to eliminate that and build on what your child can do. Try engaging your child in activities he is good at and makes him feel good.
What if nothing works?
It is pretty incredible to think nothing will work. There are so many different methods, so many different options, that it would be quite extraordinary to think, nothing will work for your child. Try the proven methods and if they don’t work, try getting creative when engaging your child in reading activities.
The key to successfully tackling of dyslexia is patience and a positive outlook. Let’s not forget, dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence or willingness to succeed. As long as you try to build a positive support system for your child, he will grow into a smart and successful person.
Andrej Persolja is a growth-hacker and a co-founder of Hopalai, the maker of Kobi application. Kobi is a mobile app that helps children learn to read. It is carefully crafted for children with reading disabilities, such as dyslexia.
Kobi for Android: bit.ly/kobi-play
Kobi for iOS: http://bit.ly/kobi-appstore