Imagine you’re a child again. You’re in a classroom with other children your age. The teacher asks the class to read. Students take turns. Then the turn comes to you. While all your other classmates read easily and freely, you struggle turning letters into words.
This is an awful experience, and one that too many American children go through. The problem? A condition called dyslexia.
Dyslexia, according to the Yale University website, is a condition where children and adults alike struggle with matching letters to sounds those letters make. Children and adults with dyslexia have difficulty reading fluently, spell words correctly, and learn a second language.
Here are some statistics:
- Roughly 20% of the population has some form of dyslexia
- The number rises to between 80% and 90% for those with learning disabilities
If you suspect your child might have dyslexia, do not panic. There are many interventions possible to alleviate or even erase the issues of dyslexia. Here are four.
A child with dyslexia struggles turning letters into words. The bridge for this is simple: sound.
Because those with dyslexia have trouble connecting a letter to its corresponding sound, a child with dyslexia needs to be read to, often. A child hears the sound of the letter while reading along. This creates the connections they need.
Typical instruction involves two senses: visual and auditory. Multi-sensory instruction takes it a step further: Stimulating all five senses. Here is an example.
The teacher is teaching the letter ‘A’ with the sound ‘ah’. She says the sound out loud, while writing the letter on the board. For the next step, she pulls out a cut out of the letter ‘A’ made out of sandpaper. She repeats, this time with the student feeling the sandpaper.
The student gets the visual, auditory, and tactile. The association between ‘A’ and ‘ah’ improves.
Phonics is the instruction of letters and their sounds. It is straightforward to teach. Even a parent without a teaching background can effectively do it.
Get a pack of flash cards with pictures on them. Learn the sounds while watching YouTube videos. Sit with your child and show them a card. Say the sound. Ask them to repeat. Then sound out the picture on the card. Ask them to repeat.
Early Intervention Is Key
One thing experts agree on is intervention before a child with dyslexia reaches first grade is critical to reducing reading difficulties.
You may work or not have the time for full interventions. There are school interventions that help. A special education teacher can help your child one-on-one. A detailed tracker can put together the progress your child has made. After school programs can give them extra time to learn.
If you’re concerned about your child’s reading ability, seek out dyslexia testing. A search in your area, such as “dyslexia NYC” or “dyslexia testing NYC” will give you options for testing.
Testing may include a general cognitive assessment.
Early intervention, phonics instruction, multi-sensory instruction, and reading, reading, reading, all impact a child’s functioning with dyslexia. That may be your child in the example at the top the article. But he or she doesn’t have to be.