Dyslexia is difficulty learning to read, write and/or spell despite normal intelligence. Because the difficulty is occurring in children who are of normal intelligence and development in all other aspects of life, they often become labeled as “late bloomers,” “not trying hard enough,” “not paying attention” or “not using what he/she has been taught.” Often homework becomes a battleground between parent and child due to the child having difficulties in processing printed text.
Dyslexia, or trouble with language, occurs in 20 percent of the population and is a heritable condition that is passed on through families. It is the most common childhood reading disability. Key warning signs include difficulty learning sight words, very poor spelling despite practice, slow reading, difficulty memorizing the months of the year, home address and phone number, and very messy handwriting. Children with dyslexia often confuse left and right and often reverse the letters b/d, p/q and g/q when writing after first grade. Kids who have dyslexia may have been late talkers, and often they mix up sounds in long words (callipittar instead of caterpillar) into mid-elementary years. Many kids with dyslexia have difficulty learning to tie their shoes.
Dyslexia does not mean a child is not smart. Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Agatha Christie, Steven Spielberg and Charles Schwab are just a few of the many famous dyslexics. These were all people who struggled in school but were able to overcome their early learning challenges. Children do not outgrow dyslexia. It is a life-long condition. Schools do not test for dyslexia, and only 10 percent of dyslexic kids ever qualify for special education services in school. However, there are programs that can help. Kids with dyslexia need multi-sensory, explicit, cumulative, student-paced reading programs that focus on phonemic awareness to reach their true potential. Kids with dyslexia are not engaging the decoding part of their brain when they are reading, writing and spelling. They are memorizing the look and shape of the words and not using the hearing or phonological part of their brain to help them process how a word is sounded out or spelled.