Dyslexia is one of the most familiar learning disabilities, but it’s one of many different kinds. Here’s an overview of what it is and what you can do.
What is dyslexia?
- It’s a common learning disability that affects 5-10% of people.
- It makes it hard to learn the connection between sounds and letters. (This is called phonemic awareness.)
- It makes it harder to learn to read, to read fluently and to understand what you read.
- Having dyslexia does not mean a person is not smart or not trying! It’s the way their brain is wired.
How do you identify dyslexia?
- See the warning signs below.
- If your child struggles with reading, ask their teacher for a screening.
- Schools can do screenings and tests to see if a child has it.
- All schools should do a screening for dyslexia and other learning disabilities at least once between kindergarten and 3rd grade! If your child has not done this and you are concerned, ask the teacher for a screening.
What can you do about it?
- Specialized teaching techniques can help kids with dyslexia learn to read.
- It’s important to start these as soon as possible.
- Talk to the teacher, get your child tested and make sure they get specialized instruction from a trained literacy specialist.
- Work with your child at home. Practice breaking down words into sounds and matching those with letters. See the other page in this Guide for more tips: Strategies for practicing reading and writing.
What should your school do to help?
- The school has responsibilities to identify dyslexia and other learning disabilities early and provide support. This is backed up by federal and state laws.
- All students should have a screening by 3rd grade to see if they have dyslexia or other learning disabilities.
- If the screening shows that a child has characteristics of dyslexia or another learning disability, they will get an evaluation. This is a more specific test.
- If your child has dyslexia, the school should make a plan for specialized reading instruction.
- This may be small group learning sessions within the regular classroom, or one-on-one instruction.
- It should be planned and supervised by educators who specialize in reading instruction and dyslexia.
- It should also be a multi-sensory approach. This means it uses techniques that involve speaking, hearing, looking at text and moving cards or other objects around with your hands.
- National Center on Improving Literacy: Practical ideas and strategies for helping your child at home and working with the school.
- What Is Dyslexia?: Information from Understood.
- A Guide to Dyslexia in Louisiana: This details the state’s guidelines and processes for identifying dyslexia and providing specialized instruction. It also describes the laws that govern these processes.
- Decoding Dyslexia Louisiana: Facebook group for parents.
- A Day in the Life of a Child With Dyslexia: See an example of how dyslexia may affect a typical day.
Not all reading problems are caused by dyslexia!
- See this other page to learn about other causes and different kinds of learning disabilities: Reasons why kids have trouble.
Sources: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, LDOE, Learning Disabilities Association of America