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Introduction to Dyslexia

How to identify reading problems with your child

As a parent, it can be worrying to see your child struggle with reading, writing, or spelling. While it's normal for children to have some difficulty as they learn these skills, persistent difficulties may be a sign of dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects an individual's ability to process language, specifically reading and spelling. It is a common condition that is thought to affect up to 10% of the population and is generally inherited genetically. Dyslexia is not a measure of intelligence or aptitude; rather, it is a neurological disorder that affects the way the brain processes language.

So, what are the signs and symptoms of dyslexia? Here are a few things to look for:

  • Struggling to learn the alphabet or phonics

  • Difficulty with sight words

  • Trouble with sounding out words or spelling them correctly

  • Struggling to read aloud or read at an age-appropriate level

  • Grammar and punctuation errors

  • Difficulty writing and organizing thoughts on paper

If you suspect that your child may have dyslexia, it is important to speak with your child's teacher or a trained professional. A comprehensive evaluation can help to confirm the diagnosis and identify any specific areas of difficulty.

There are several types of dyslexia, and it’s important to understand the differences so you can provide the right support for your child. Here are the four main types of dyslexia:

Phonological Dyslexia

Phonological dyslexia, also known as phonemic dyslexia, is the most common type of dyslexia. It affects the way your child’s brain processes sounds in words, making it difficult for them to read and spell. Children with phonological dyslexia may have trouble with phonemes, which are the smallest units of sound in a language. They may struggle with breaking words down into smaller sounds and blending them together to read or spell.

Surface Dyslexia

Surface dyslexia, also known as visual dyslexia, is a type of dyslexia that affects the way your child processes written words visually. Children with surface dyslexia may have trouble remembering the way words look, making it difficult for them to read and spell. They may also have difficulty with reading comprehension, as they may not fully understand what they are reading due to their inability to process the visual information.

Rapid Naming Dyslexia

Rapid naming dyslexia is a type of dyslexia that affects your child’s ability to quickly and accurately name letters, numbers, and words. Children with rapid naming dyslexia may struggle with reading fluency and may take longer to complete reading tasks. This type of dyslexia is often related to phonological dyslexia, as children may have difficulty with phonemes which can impact their ability to quickly name letters and words.

Mixed Dyslexia

Mixed dyslexia is a combination of multiple types of dyslexia, including phonological, surface, and rapid naming dyslexia. Children with mixed dyslexia may experience challenges with reading, spelling, and fluency, as well as difficulty with phonemes and visual processing of written words.

If your child is diagnosed with dyslexia, there are a number of strategies and interventions that can be helpful. These may include structured literacy programs, which teach reading and spelling using a systematic approach, and assistive technology, such as text-to-speech software or audio books. It is also important for your child to receive accommodations in school, such as extra time on tests or the use of a computer for writing assignments.

It’s important to understand the specific type of dyslexia your child may have in order to provide the appropriate support and accommodations. This may include working with a reading specialist or tutor, using assistive technology, or implementing strategies such as breaking down words into smaller chunks or using visual aids. It is also possible that your child will qualify for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Early intervention is key and with the right support, your child can overcome the challenges of dyslexia and succeed academically. Contact your child's teacher or special education advocate to help you get the process started.

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