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Dyslexia: Symptoms, Diagnosis and causes

Dyslexic child reading a book

Dyslexia is the most common learning difference amongst people across the world. Some evidence suggests (Sprenger-Charolles and Siegel, 2016) that 17% of the world’s population is expected to have some degree of dyslexia. There is no ‘cure’, but there are various actions and learning techniques that can help improve literacy outcomes. These can reduce the impact that dyslexia can have on a person, and help them manage it within their daily lives. Effective literacy intervention and support can assist dyslexic people to achieve productive and successful lives.

In this blog post, we will highlight multiple aspects of dyslexia including:

  1. What is dyslexia? (video)
  2. Dyslexia causes
  3. Dyslexia symptoms
  4. What to do as a parent
  5. Diagnosing dyslexia (video)
  6. An adult dyslexic testimony (video)
Early dyslexia symptoms of a child

What is dyslexia?

Dean Bragonier from Notice Ability

Dyslexia causes

Dyslexia is not indicative of a lack of intelligence or brain damage. It is hereditary and generally results from the brain’s inability to process small language units and match letters to their proper sounds.

As a result, a child may have difficulty with reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary and/or maths, often resulting in frustration with school, a lack of motivation, and sometimes anxiety and/or depression. The inability to properly process written language can also lead to lower self-esteem, acting out, and social isolation. 

Dyslexia symptoms

Early dyslexia signs may include:

  • Problems copying passages from a book or board.
  • Using wrong words or skipping words when reading aloud.
  • Repeated difficulty with spelling.
  • Problems following written instructions.
  • Anxiety if asked to read aloud.
  • Forgeting how to spell common words.
  • Having difficulty learning new words.

Since dyslexia can be hereditary, parents need to be aware of any family history that may increase the risk of dyslexia.

What to do as a parent?

If you believe your child may have dyslexia, you should begin by consulting your family doctor. Once vision and hearing tests rule out physical issues, discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher and school. With your permission, a series of tests can be administered to assess your child’s literacy. Those tests often examine intelligence (although unrelated to dyslexia), language ability and communication, school performance and related issues. Early screening and a parent support letter can help you approach your school.

Diagnosing Dyslexia – checking for dyslexia signs

Jay Hobbs from Thriving Now

Testing can assess if a child’s reading level is age-appropriate which is one of the dyslexia symptoms. Tests will also determine how a child processes information and whether the child learns best from hearing or reading information or acquiring knowledge through involvement in activities. Assessment tools have become standardized and are considered highly reliable. 

If some form of dyslexia is diagnosed, you and your child’s teachers can work to develop a plan designed to strengthen identified weaknesses. A variety of strategies and teaching approaches may include a stronger focus on phonics, the use of specialised computer programs and alternative methods of evaluating academic performance such as verbal testing rather than administering written exams.

Since dyslexia can cause a loss of self-esteem, encouraging your child is essential. You can be supportive and help build your child’s confidence by providing positive reinforcement for achievements and the efforts made toward reaching goals. Reward the small victories rather than correcting every error. Encourage your child’s participation in activities they enjoy, such as music or sports. 

Hiring an adequately trained tutor or educator to work with a child can work wonders. Studies have shown positive changes in brain activity following skilled instruction. As a parent, you can fulfill that role should you choose. Use online resources or get tips from specialised teachers to learn techniques to help your child learn sight words and improve reading comprehension. Provide your child with a quiet space to work on homework. Don’t let your child become overly tired. Completing assignments over several short periods rather than sitting at a desk for an hour is often more productive.  

An adult dyslexic testimony

As a parent, you are your child’s best advocate. Be aware of dyslexia symptoms that may suggest a learning difficulty. Early diagnosis and intervention can go a long way to help your child meet and overcome the symptoms of dyslexia.

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