Thoughtful Parenting: Decoding dyslexia
October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. Did you know that one in five people — 15 to 20 percent of the population — have a language-based learning disorder? Dyslexia is the most common one. Since so many people are affected by dyslexia, it is important to know what it actually is. There are many common myths about dyslexia.
Myth No. 1: Dyslexia is a vision problem that causes people to reverse letters and numbers when reading.
Dyslexia is a brain-based learning disability that is characterized by difficulties reading and spelling words quickly and correctly. Difficulties related to dyslexia typically involve the ability to notice, think about and manipulate sounds in spoken words. It’s challenging for people with dyslexia to connect letter sounds to the corresponding symbols. Their memory for letter shapes may also be affected, which may cause letter confusion, but this confusion is not related to vision.
Myth No. 2: People with dyslexia are lazy and have a low IQ or limited potential.
Individuals identified with dyslexia typically have average to well-above average intellectual abilities or IQ. Their struggles with reading and spelling are unrelated to their intellectual and academic abilities.
Myth No. 3: Dyslexia cannot be identified until children are in third grade.
Current research shows us that people demonstrate indicators of dyslexia early in their lives, starting as early as preschool. The following are some early indicators to look for during preschool.
- Considered by a doctor to be a “late talker.”
- Has trouble learning nursery rhymes or song lyrics that rhyme.
- Often mispronounces words, like saying, “beddy tear” instead of “teddy bear,” or saying, “elligator” instead of “elevator.”
- Has trouble learning a new word, even after someone tries to teach it many times.
- Has trouble remembering sequences, such as reciting the letters of the alphabet or saying the days of the week or the months of the year in the right order.
- Often tells stories that are hard to follow.
- Has trouble remembering and following directions with multiple steps.
- Can’t point out his/her own name and has trouble writing it.
While many of these behaviors are a normal part of development, they can indicate a problem if they persist.
Myth No. 4: Dyslexia can be outgrown or cured.
While dyslexia cannot be cured, the challenges associated with dyslexia can be overcome. The key to future success is early identification and a highly structured intervention. An Orton-Gillingham approach using a multi-sensory structured language program is key. Many people with dyslexia have become very successful in their lives, including Whoopi Goldberg, Albert Einstein, Charles Schwab, Cher, Steven Spielberg and Gov. John Hickenlooper. With the right kinds of support, everyone can learn to become a successful reader.
For more information about dyslexia or supporting your child with dyslexia, understood.org or the International Dyslexia Association are excellent resources.
Joy McIntosh and Kim Schulz are part of the team of reading experts at Steamboat Reading. Steamboat Reading provides a community of support for struggling readers and their families. Visit steamboatreading.org for more information.
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