Dyslexia is generally characterized as an inability to read and write at grade level despite average to above-average intelligence and a decent upbringing/education. Spelling, writing, listening, speaking, and memory skills may also be impacted. Directionality is another common weakness, often leading to seeing and/or writing letters backwards, having trouble with mirror imaging, experiencing difficulty with left/right distinction, and encountering perpetual challenges finding one's way around new buildings, places, etc, particularly when multiple turns and/or nondescript hallways are involved.
Dyslexia is often accompanied by ADD/ADHD, and is thought to be genetic. Unfortunately, true dyslexia is not something that will go away. It is a persistent, lifelong problem with memory, retrieval, processing, and/or directionality issues that ranges from mild to severe. Because every dyslexic is different, your child might only have one area of weakness or many. There is no "one size fits all" diagnosis. One dyslexic might have a terrific memory and quick retrieval but be riddled with processing and directionality issues, while another might have both a horrible memory and persistent retrieval issues, but few processing and/or directionality issues. Others might have difficulty in ALL areas. Furthermore, some kids might just have slight issues in certain areas, while others have much more severe ones.
Early warning signs of dyslexia frequently include such things as trouble learning the alphabet, writing letters backwards, struggling to recognize "sight words," having trouble learning to tie shoes, misspeaking one word for another (tornado-->tomato, dishwasher-->washing machine), and experiencing difficulty pronouncing multi-syllable words (spaghetti-->psghetti, animal-->aminal). Many dyslexic kids also tend to have trouble hearing rhymes, finding their way around, writing neatly, and coming up with certain words they know but can't quite get hold of in the minute. You might hear them say things like, "You know...that THING..." Generally, they can see whatever it is they are trying to say in their minds; they just can't quite retrieve the word in that particular moment.
Another frustrating thing that many dyslexics have to deal with is forgetting what they have "learned." Despite knowing something really well one moment or day, they might seem completely oblivious to it the next. "But you KNOW this," you might hear yourself saying. But they don't. At least not in that moment. It might come back later. Or it might really be gone. Oftentimes, dyslexics' minds are like sand sifters, allowing whatever gets placed within to slowly sift back out. In this case, the dyslexic must relearn the information to know it again, or at least be reminded of the information so that his or her memory can be jogged. Many dyslexics resort to constant note taking and/or list making to make up for this in later years.
The good news? Kids with dyslexia CAN learn to read and write. They simply must be taught in a way that their brains understand. This requires that they understand WHY words say what they say so they can use their main strength (dynamic reasoning skills) to figure out what their brains can't remember and/or see accurately upon first sight. Systematic, explicit, sequential, high-quality instruction in phonics, accompanied by consistent, meaningful, real-world practice can help dyslexic kids make tremendous gains, often enabling them to catch back up with their peers and read on or even above grade level.
Keep in mind that dyslexia has nothing to do with actual intelligence. Dyslexic kids can be super-smart, even GIFTED. Dyslexia is a processing/memory issue that impacts the WAY a person learns and/or processes information, not WHAT they can learn and/or process. The thinking part of the brain is unaffected. In fact, dyslexics are often superior when it comes to dynamic reasoning, seeing the "big picture," interpersonal skills, narrative reasoning, solving puzzles/problems, artistic endeavors, three-dimensional thinking, and leadership skills. While certain tasks may be more difficult for dyslexics to master quickly, particularly school tasks which often require rote memorization and quick retrieval, others will come much easier for dyslexics and allow for them to shine.
If your child is struggling to learn to read and/or write, look for a quality tutoring program and get help ASAP. If your child needs certain accommodations to perform well in school, get the testing required done to enable this. For best results, look for a certified dyslexia testing specialist in your area. Early intervention and a proper diagnosis can help your child not only succeed, but thrive.
All the best and much success,
Author of Kinders Can! READ and WRITE!, Get Your Kids READING and WRITING! 2 and 3 Letter Words!, Tricks Practice Cards, More Tricks Practice Cards, and Alphabasics!
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