What is Dyslexia and Does My Child Have it?
Updated: Feb 8, 2022
Dyslexia is a language-based learning difficulty that can present in different ways. Like some other learning difficulties, it is a spectrum, meaning students can have mild to severe forms of Dyslexia. Contrary to some older beliefs Dyslexia has nothing to do with vision, intelligence, or laziness. It is not merely reading backwards, or letters moving on the page. Dyslexia is a lifelong learning difficulty with no cure. Quality teaching methods can definitely improve the ability of students with Dyslexia to learn to read, spell and write. Did you know The International Dyslexia Association estimates that 15 to 20 percent of the population have Dyslexia? Since Dyslexia is so common it’s really important that we know what to look out for.
Here is a list of some things to watch out for.
Students Have Difficulty With Literacy Tasks
Children who have Dyslexia sometimes had delayed speech in early childhood. They often have trouble identifying sounds in words and making letter-sound connections. They have difficulty blending and segmenting when learning to read and spell.
Students Make Many Spelling Errors
Students might make different spelling errors for the same word in one piece of writing. They may spell a word one way on one day and another on the next. For example – wich, whic, witk for which. Often students don’t spell all the sounds in a word even if it is wrong. For example, a student may spell the word butterfly as buterfli which is wrong but still contains all the sounds you can hear in the word butterfly. A student with Dyslexia may spell the word butfli, which is missing the er sound.
Students Struggle To Learn To Read and Write
They struggle to identify words that rhyme such as fat and cat. They make random reading errors, especially for simple, frequent words, and guess words often. Some students with Dyslexia also flip letter shapes, reverse letter combinations and write in all capitals. Many children with dyslexia have trouble with English letters that contain the same shapes, for example, a lowercase b is a flipped version of a lowercase d. While it’s common for kids who are learning how to write to flip letters, when this behavior continues into the second and third grades, dyslexia may be to blame.
Lastly, they are often understandably reluctant to read aloud in front of others.
Trouble With Time Keeping And Organisation
Students with Dyslexia often have trouble keeping up with literacy tasks in class, managing their time and organising themselves and their things.
Reading And Writing Skills Don’t Match Other Abilities
Students often do really well in other curriculum areas such as maths, science, art, or music but may be below grade level in literacy areas. They often have good verbal communication and understanding but have difficulty transferring this into reading and writing lessons.
Difficulty Remembering And Following Instructions.
Students with Dyslexia sometimes have difficulty rote learning things such as days of the week or the alphabet for example. This is because they may have working memory issues. They may also struggle to remember names, dates, and the words for things. They may say “that thing”, “stuff” or “that thingy, you know”. As well as having difficulty remembering they may also have trouble following instructions especially when they are verbal.
They may have trouble pronouncing multisyllabic words (like specific) and often mishear the sounds in words.
Who Can Diagnose Dyslexia
While teachers are not able to formally diagnose Dyslexia, they are usually the first people to notice that there is something not quite right with a student’s progress. It is so important to spot these students who might have Dyslexia early, so we can help them get a diagnosis and so they can receive quality teaching that will help them to succeed.
Remember a diagnosis of Dyslexia doesn’t mean a student can’t learn to read or write, they just need some extra help and practise. They can still be lovers of reading and very successful adults.
I Think my Child Has Dyslexia, Now What?
Your first step should be to collect evidence. You need to collect writing samples, reading records, spelling tests, and any other data to provide a full picture of the student’s abilities. Your child’s teacher should be able to do this for you.
Talk to your child’s Classroom Teacher, Deputy Principal, Principal, or School Psychologist about the next steps. Now that you have all your information you can discuss your concerns with someone.
It’s a good idea to consider asking the school to put them on an Individual Education Plan to make sure that their needs are being met.
Individual Education Plans should be reviewed at least once a semester.
Consider whether your child would benefit from tutoring to support their learning.
For more information, you can go to:
DSF: Dyslexia SPELD Foundation Literacy and Clinical Services
Australian Dyslexia Assocation