Understanding Dyslexia

Dyslexia is more common and more complex than people might think, and the signs can be different for each kid. Bill Herman, CEO of the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana (Dii), answers some questions that might help parents to know what to look for, and why you should seek early assessment and intervention to result in the best outcome for your child.

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is defined as an unexpected difficulty in learning to read, impacting about 1 in 5 people so it’s quite common! Dyslexia takes away an individual’s ability to read quickly and automatically, and to retrieve spoken words easily, but it does not dampen their creativity and ingenuity.

What are the signs of dyslexia?

Though this not an exhaustive list, common signs of dyslexia include: confusion of similar looking letters (such a b/d, m/w, f/t), difficulty with sequencing (such as days of the week), confusion with similar sounding words (celery/salary), spelling difficulties, appearing to be guessing when reading out loud (such as skipping, adding, changing words), family history of difficulties with reading and spelling, and anxiety at school over reading out loud, test taking and getting work completed.

What should parents do if they believe their child might have dyslexia?

If a parent believes their child is dyslexic, they may want to consider having them tested for dyslexia and consider intervention. The typical intervention is tutoring. Testing can be helpful if you’d like to address accommodations or academic plans at school. However, we know that testing and tutoring are both investments that can be financially challenging. Due to this, at Dii, for example, we don’t require a diagnosis to tutor with us. We believe all struggling readers can benefit from multisensory Orton-Gillingham tutoring. While it is good to be able to put a name to the challenge you’re seeing, we believe it’s most important to ensure you have the tools to address that challenge.

Does early intervention help?

Early intervention helps tremendously. Though we do believe that starting late is better than never, the earlier you can get intervention for your child, the more you’ll be setting them up for success. Since dyslexia is lifelong, the sooner they can learn the tools and skills needed to become fluent, capable readers, the better. Literacy is a cornerstone of all other learning, and we need that solid foundation to move forward.

If you feel that your child may exhibit symptoms of dyslexia, know you are not alone. Dyslexia is common and, thankfully, there are many tools available that will help your child learn to not only manage their dyslexia, but also to thrive. Getting a diagnosis is the first step toward intervention and hopefully will help to foster a lifelong love of reading and learning.

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