How Can I Help Teach My Dyslexic Child | KalliKids

How can I help my dyslexic child?

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Dyslexia is a hidden disability that affects 10% of the British Population. There are endless definitions of and facts about dyslexia. Here are three of them to note:

  • Current research on dyslexia is unanimous in finding that dyslexia is the result of an inability to distinguish and process the sounds that make up speech.
  • Dyslexia is the selective impairment of reading skills despite normal intelligence, sensory acuity and instruction – so every skill is intact, only reading is affected.
  • Dyslexia is evident when accurate fluent word reading or spelling develops incompletely or with great difficulty (British Psychological Society, 1999).

Even though dyslexia is classed as a learning difficulty there is no connection between dyslexia and a child’s intelligence. Children of all intellectual abilities, from low to high intelligence, can be affected by dyslexia.

Every child with dyslexia is different and will have different needs, and dyslexia should be recognised as a spectrum disorder, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.  Most children with dyslexia will have high comprehension skills compared to low decoding skills (breaking down the words). The English language is complex with many hidden rules and it is the randomness of the language that children with dyslexia find hard to understand.

Understanding What Dyslexia Means

 To see what it is like to be dyslexic try drawing a bike from memory.
You know what it looks like, you may see one everyday but it is very hard to put it down on paper. You know it has wheels, frame and peddles but making that connection between all those elements is difficult. Dyslexia has in the past been called the disconnection syndrome: you know the word and letters but can’t make the connection and get it right.

The Three Key Research Areas Relating to Dyslexia

Visual Processing

This is where children struggle with things such as copying writing (for example, from the black board at school) or find they have to concentrate very hard on decoding words. This means a child can often lose the meaning of what he or she is reading. Children may find that words jump off pages as they read them and that words look very similar and confusing. Some children also struggle with reading number sequences.

Motor Processing

This is when children may write slowly and their work can often be messy or when children feel clumsy completing physical activities. This is especially true when using fine motor skills such as painting. Some dyslexic children also find it difficult to break things down into small steps when planning an activity or playing a game or that when they try to say words, the words can come out the wrong way.

Phonological Processing

This is the most common difficulty children with dyslexia face. This relates to making links between letters and sounds. Dyslexic children often cannot easily hear some sounds in words and may have some subtle speech related problems with words. Children find that their memory for words is not so good and they sometimes struggle with learning new things by heart or learning new words (for example, the days of the week or times tables).

A professional assessment of your child will provide a full profile of his or her strengths and weaknesses and where they are on the dyslexic spectrum. This is beneficial as it enables support to be more effectively adapted to your child. A well informed school is able to provide a number of effective interventions to support dyslexic pupils. Schools have a duty under disability legislation (SENDA 2001, Disability Discrimination Act 2005, Equality Act 2010)) to ensure that pupils with disabilities are not treated unfavourably and are offered reasonable support and tuition. Specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia are recognised difficulties under disability legislation.

Useful Tips to Help Support Dyslexic Children

Adapted from Primary School Tips from Dyslexic Association:
  • Always set high expectations for your child's intellectual stimulation but more reasonable ones for written work. Their inability to write well does not affect their ability to think well!
  • Be prepared to explain things many times, in a variety of ways.
  • Give your child a chance to explain their difficulties to you. This will help you to know what they need more help with.
  • Watch out for signs of tiredness or fatigue – dyslexic children have to work much harder with work than other children which can be exhausting.
  • Be slow, quiet and deliberate in your instruction giving, allowing time for the meaning of the words to sink in. You can ensure they understand by getting them to explain it back to you.
  • Give guidance about how to tackle tasks systematically. Dyslexic children often need to be taught many things that other children pick up without specific adult help. This might include: how to tidy a drawer; put their toys away; get dressed, tie a tie or shoelaces.
  • Watch out for signs of falling confidence and self-esteem. This could be seen in mood swings, tears and quieter moods and unwillingness to try with work. If you notice these changes in moods it might be an idea to talk to your child and talk to their class teacher.
  • When reading with a dyslexic child keep referring to the meaning of the text. Sometimes a child may be able to read a passage but will lose meaning. Tips include reading each word or sentence twice, reading aloud, thinking or explaining the meaning of words or sentences as they read them or picturing what they have just read at full stops or commas.

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The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.

Attributed to Mark Twain

There are many sources of advice and help online. One of the best websites is the Dyslexic Association.

This is a really informative and easy-to-read website that can tell you all the facts about dyslexia, as well as how to help people with dyslexia achieve their full potential. The British Dyslexia Association recognises the barriers dyslexic people have to overcome and works to remove these barriers enabling ALL dyslexic people to achieve their potential.

As well as informing you all about dyslexia and the challenges it presents, this website also gives parents advice for helping with homework, private tutoring, schools and activities.



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