If your child is struggling to keep up at school, there may be several contributing factors including dyslexia. About 80% of students with learning disabilities have dyslexia. Dyslexia is a learning disorder that makes it difficult for students to read, recognize symbols and interpret words. Dyslexia is the most common learning disorder and it stays with children throughout their lives. It’s often the parents who recognize that there is something amiss and it’s crucial to identify dyslexia as soon as possible in order to help your child to learn in a way that suits their needs.
Delayed speech: As a baby, the dyslexic child will have trouble learning to speak. Although they will master speech successfully, they will be late starters in this area. They may also mix up sounds or use the incorrect words in sentences. Dyslexic children also have trouble pronouncing R’s and L’s as well as M’s and N’s well into the third and fourth grades.
Dominance issues: Dyslexic children often don’t establish a dominant side until really late in life. They will not be able to tell the difference between left and right and may be a little clumsy. They will use their hands interchangeably i.e. they usually establish dominance around 7 or 8, but might still use one hand to draw and another to play sports.
Switching the order of numbers and letters: This commonly occurs with children who are learning to read, but if the problem persists after the age of seven or eight it should be addressed. Children who have dyslexia will also read very slowly and have great trouble recognizing words.
Trouble copying work from the board or from a book: Difficulty interpreting words and symbols will mean that the dyslexic child will have great difficulty copying work down. There will also be a general disorganization of words and letters on a written page. They will have trouble learning letters and the order they appear in the alphabet.
Disparity between reading and learning: You will see your child learn very quickly in other areas, but fall behind in lessons that are text related. This also translates into a difficulty with handwriting and trouble learning to spell words correctly. They will find it difficult to recognize rhyming words, even if they read books like Dr. Seuss, they will not be able to tell you that cat rhymes with hat.
Math problems: Dyslexia is not restricted to reading and you may find your child has trouble with math too. Symbols and numbers are just as difficult for the dyslexic to interpret as letters are.
Early signs of dyslexia require further investigation. If you suspect your child may have a learning disorder, seek the council of a developmental psychologist who can not only test your child to identify leaning difficulties, but they can also help you and your child to overcome learning problems and find their talents. Dyslexia can be managed and can actually be a strength for the individual. As the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity states “Children and adults with dyslexia are highly creative, and have many cognitive and emotional strengths, despite a weakness in decoding words. Successful dyslexics draw on their strengths to hit their targets in life.”