As you may know, October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. Dyslexia is the most common learning disability, affecting one in five children. Although common, dyslexia continues to be widely misunderstood, and many children who have it are not appropriately diagnosed and are not given fitting interventions. As this month is designed to bring awareness to this disorder, we thought that it would be the perfect time to share some information with you. Our hope is that this helps you learn a little bit more about this learning difference, and if you’re a parent who is concerned about your child’s reading difficulties, it inspires you to take the first step to getting him or her the support they need.
Many people think of dyslexia as reading backwards or mixing up letters. According to Sally E. Shaywitz, M.D., co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, this is a false belief, as dyslexia is a neurobiological disorder that interferes with a child’s ability to access the individual sounds found in spoken words. Because of this, they have a tough time matching letters with their respective sounds. Just as you might have guessed, this causes them to struggle with figuring out words as they learn to read, speak and spell.
Even as additional research on dyslexia teaches us more and more about it and our understanding of it increases, identification, as well as finding and providing appropriate support continue to be difficult. Many students become skilled at masking their reading struggles, and as Dr. Shaywitz shares, “can be strong critical thinkers and problem solvers and also dyslexic.” This makes spotting dyslexia tough, even for parents. James Wendorf, executive director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities shares that even parents who suspect that their child may have a reading difficulty typically wait a year or two before initiating evaluation. He believes that this delay in initiating evaluation is caused by denial, which comes from the fact that parents want their kids to develop in typical ways. It is most critical to spot signs of dyslexia before third grade, when students must read in order to progress in other subjects, so the quicker you act, the sooner your child can get reading help which will help them in school.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of warning signs, these are the biggest red flags to be on the lookout for. If you notice your child exhibiting any of these signs, talk to their teacher about testing: