Dyslexia tends to run in families and affects as many as one in five children. Dyslexia is a language-based difficulty which affects mainly literacy (reading and spelling) but also affects speech and language amongst other areas.
Early tell-tale signs of dyslexia are visible even before a child learns to read.
Children do develop literacy at different rates, however if a child is still struggling with reading after about a year of instruction, early intervention is very important.
Children with reading difficulties in the early school years do not tend to naturally catch up with their peers without some intervention, and the gap between typical readers and readers with dyslexia is already present by Senior Infants.
Sometimes dyslexia can go unnoticed in primary school years and only really come to the fore in secondary school when reading demands increase substantially.
Dyslexia is lifelong but children with dyslexia can be taught to read and spell well with appropriate evidence-based supports in place. It is important for a child’s self-esteem that they (and others in their environment) understand that dyslexia does not affect intelligence – there should be an emphasis on individual strengths.
Many children with dyslexia excel in the classroom if supported in the right way.
Many children with dyslexia excel in the classroom if supported in the right way. Sometimes difficulties with dyslexia can go unnoticed in primary school years and only really come to the fore in secondary school when reading and writing demands increase substantially. Effective interventions can be put in place at any age, although it is important to act as early as possible.
If dyslexia is suspected parents are strongly encouraged to pursue formal assessment by an educational psychologist.
Teachers and special education teachers with extra training in dyslexia, dyslexia tutors, and speech and language therapists can provide appropriate interventions for dyslexia. Importantly, we don’t want to wait for a formal diagnosis before acting on suspected dyslexia because waiting lists are long and much can be done in the interim to reduce the impact of dyslexia.
A speech and language therapist is an expert in oral language, which serves as the foundation for literacy.
Most people think that dyslexia causes people to reverse letters and words, however a more significant issue is a difficulty with recognising phonemes (the individual sounds of speech, such as the “b” sound in “big”).
Speech and language therapists evaluate all language domains:
listening, speaking, reading and writing and create therapy plans to address any deficiencies.
A speech and language therapist can support dyslexia thoroughly by working with the following areas: phonological awareness skills, reading skills, spelling, writing, language and reading comprehension, articulation, expressive language, sound-letter knowledge, word-finding skills, auditory processing, and short-term working memory, for example.
Speech and language therapists evaluate all language domains: listening, speaking, reading and writing and create therapy plans to address any deficiencies.
As a parent concerned about your child’s literacy, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
If your child does have dyslexia, early intervention is most effective. The good news is there are a lot of evidence-based interventions available to support your family.
So what can parents do to support dyslexia?
- Familiarise yourself with the facts about Dyslexia. (A good place to start is Dyslexia 101 which you can get here).
- Reading to your child at a higher level than they can read themselves will be beneficial for comprehension and vocabulary development which in turn is vital for literacy development.
- Reading aloud together with your child most evenings at their fluency level where they are comfortably reading about 19 out of 20 words correctly, with the parent gently correcting any errors, is one of the single most meaningful things parents can do at home to support more fluent reading.
- Encouraging reading for pleasure is also important, as well as building reading comprehension skills, where parents can help children to relate new information being read to information that is already known i.e. finding personal links to the text. (Adding an example – when reading about a dog that has run away, linking this event to any experiences the child has had with the running away of his own pet, or the pet of someone he knows perhaps…)
If your child has not had any formal diagnosis, and some of the above information has resonated with you, please take our checklist below for the appropriate stage your child is currently at.
If, after completing it, you answer Yes, to THREE OR MORE of the questions, please get in touch with us.