Dyslexia Awareness Week is an annual event aimed at raising public awareness. It’s important to first understand that though Dyslexia is labeled a disability by some, it is not one. In fact there are many positives to having dyslexia that most people do not know about.
Let me start by saying Parents do not be afraid, your struggling young one can overcome dyslexia and be even more successful than most. When I found out my daughter was dyslexic, I was terrified. Then I got my mind right, bought a book, joined a support group and started advocating for my daughter inside and outside of school.
I took my daughter to a private psychologist and that specialized in assessing children for learning differences like dyslexia. The psychologist was amazing and provided me with comfort, resources and courage to tackle this!
Here’s everything you need to know.
Dyslexia is a learning difference that can cause difficulty with reading, writing and spelling, in our average learning environments. People with dyslexia, according to the Mayo Clinic, have normal intelligence levels and typical vision. Dyslexics are right brained individuals, that see things much different than the average student. Individuals with dyslexia are likely seeing things in 3 dimensions over 2 dimensions that most other people see. They are able to turn things around in their mind making them great at STEM related topics. Dyslexics are also incredible at seeing the big picture, and learn better when they understand the WHY. This is why typical teaching methods do not create a great outcome for those with dyslexia.
International Dyslexia Association states that those with dyslexia can learn to read and write with the proper support. In fact, dyslexia can be an asset in achieving success in adulthood. Some examples of successful dyslexics include: Thomas Edison, Stephen Spielberg, Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Aniston, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Anthony Hopkins, and Henry Winkler, to name a few.
An article by American Management Associations (AMA) states that research shows that 35% of U.S. entrepreneurs have dyslexia, and 20% in the UK. The research completed by Professor Logan found dyslexia are more likely to:
- Own more than one business.
- Run their own business for shorter time, and grow them quicker.
- Begin their business directly after high school.
- Be great communicators, problem solvers, delegator and have greater spatial awareness.
- Be more likely to have mentors influence them, over education.
- Be Capable of managing larger staff and delegate more effectively.
The BDA says that dyslexia can manifest in many different ways, and that each individual will experience the condition in a way that is unique to them. As such, each person will have their own set of abilities and challenges. However, unlike a learning disability, a person’s intelligence isn’t affected by dyslexia.
Dyslexia is more common than most people think. It’s estimated 15% of people have dyslexia, which equates to over 30 million adults in the US, 6 million in the United Kingdom and 3 million in Canada, according to the reading well virtual dyslexia resource.
While symptoms often become more obvious when a child starts school, individuals can go through their entire life without realising that they have the condition, making the need to speak up and seek help if struggling more vital than ever.
How can I identify dyslexia in myself or someone else?
According to the BDA, dyslexia can manifest in different ways depending on a person’s age.
For children aged four and under, the following indicators may suggest that a child has a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) such as dyslexia. These include:
- Difficulty learning nursery rhymes
- Likes listening to stories, but shows no interest in letters or words
- Difficulty learning to sing or recite the alphabet
- Difficulty paying attention, sitting still or listening to stories
- A history of slow speech development
- Muddles words e.g. cubumber, flutterby
- Confusion between directional words e.g. up/down
The BDA notes that many young children display these behaviours and that it’s the severity and length of time they persist that provide clues to identifying dyslexia, however.
For primary school-aged children, general signs to look out for including poor concentration, forgetting words, difficulties following instructions and a reduced processing speed e.g. slow spoken or written language.
According to the BDA, a child can only be diagnosed with dyslexia through a Diagnostic Assessment, but these are usually only carried out from seven years old and are not needed to access support.Secondary school
Some signs to look for in secondary school-aged children (junior high and high school) include:
- A poor standard of written work compared with oral ability
- Finding sequencing problematic
- Poor handwriting with badly formed letters, or neat handwriting, but writes very slowly
- Producing badly set out or messy written work, with spellings crossed out several times
- Spelling the same word differently in one piece of work
- Difficulty with punctuation and/or grammar
- Confusing upper and lower case letters
- Failure to recognise familiar words when reading
- Is hesitant and laboured, especially when reading aloud
- Omits, repeats or adds extra words when reading
- Reading at a reasonable rate, but with a low level of comprehension
- Difficulty remembering tables and/or basic number sets
- Confusing signs, such as ‘x’ for ‘+’
- Being disorganised or forgetful e.g. over sports equipment, lessons, homework, appointments
- Being immature and/or clumsyAdults
- Signs to look out for in adults include:
- Confusing visually similar words such as cat and cot
- Erratic spelling
- Finding it hard to scan or skim text
- Reading/writing slowly
- A need to re-read paragraphs to understand them
- Finding it hard to listen and maintain focus
- Finding it hard to concentrate if there are distractions
- A sense of mental overload/switching off
The BDA also features a series of age-appropriate checklists for dyslexia on their website, but is keen to state that such checklists cannot tell you if someone is dyslexic: “It is a tool used to help understand whether there is a likelihood of dyslexia, and whether further investigation should take place. Dyslexia can only be diagnosed through a formal Diagnostic Assessment.”What support is available for people with dyslexia?
In educational settings, teaching assistants, occasional one-to-one teaching or lessons in a small group with a specialist teacher may be possible. Technology, such as speech recognition software and electronic organisers, may also assist with day-to-day life as a person gets older.
In the workplace, employers are required by law to make reasonable adjustments to help people with dyslexia, such as allowing extra time for certain tasks.
The British Dyslexic Society (BDA) offers information, advice, support and even a helpline for people wanting to know more about dyslexia.
Parents, do not wait to start helping your children that have been diagnosed with dyslexia. We may not be the subject matter experts, but you can read and find methods you can use at home to help move them along on their journey. There are so many resources now that can help you support your children.
I have used resources like mindplay to help my daughter learn all the phonics rules, which has helped her with her word decoding, spelling, WPM and being able to understand the text and answer questions to the text (fluency).
I purchased the scholastic Vocabulary books, because the more words dyslexics memorize, the easier it becomes for them to read fluently. These scholastic books provide 10 words per word list, their definition and then provides them with ample opportunities to use them in sentences in fun ways.
I purchased the Scholastic Word Study book because it helps my daughter learn prefixes, suffixes and the Latin and Greek Roots and their meaning. This helps a child see a word, sound it out AND predict the meaning of the word.
I purchased all the decodable books listed below. My daughter was able to read these books with a little bit more ease, which helped her build her reading confidence. Also, they are written in a font that is easier for dyslexics to read. Fonts sizes too small and letters placed too close together can make it difficult for dyslexics to read.
The dyslexia reading tools are plastic guides that help the dyslexic reading follow along with their words on paper easier. It puts the words in color which helps a dyslexic mind focus on each word.
Here are some resources I have been using.
- Mind play – http://www.mindplay.com
- Lexile Reading
- Scholastic Vocabulary Grade 1
- Scholastic Vocabulary Grade 2
- Scholastic Vocabulary Grade 3
- Scholastic Vocabulary Grade 4
- Scholastic Vocabulary Grade 5
- Scholastic Vocabulary Grade 6
- Scholastic Extra Practice for Struggling Readers
- Decodable Books Spelling Pen Elf Land
- Decodable Books Spelling Pen Red Obelisk
- Decodable Books Spelling Pen Brass Lamp
- Decodable Books Fox Hunt
- Decodable Books Sam is Stuck
- The Gold of Black Rock Hill
- Dyslexia Reading Guide Tools
I hope this was helpful! Please feel free to leave any questions or comments.