What do parents need to know about dyslexia?

Kathy Sherman, Director of Hillside, laid out the basic facts about dyslexia plus much more in her HillTOPICS presentation on January 10, 2017.

Did you know that one in five children have some degree of dyslexia? And that many myths about dyslexia still persist, such as that boys are more affected than girls (they’re not), or that kids with dyslexia have vision that makes them see letters backwards (they don’t), or that parents should just wait for their child to “catch up” (they shouldn’t!).

New research proves that dyslexia is a neurobiological difference that results in poor phonological awareness characterized by difficulties with word recognition, spelling, and decoding. Dyslexia is related to how the brain perceives and processes letter sounds. This increases the difficulty in learning to read and succeed academically. The correct intervention is necessary to facilitate the skills needed for reading and writing. Waiting for children to “catch up” results in them falling further behind.

Indicators of potential dyslexia can be seen in early childhood and, due to its strong genetic component, nearly every child with dyslexia has a relative who experienced it as well, though often the relative was not diagnosed. Early identification and intervention can make a lifelong difference for these children, and explaining to a child with dyslexia what is different about them and that we know they will be able to succeed with hard work can be critical to their self-esteem and future achievement.

To get a feel for what it’s like to be a child with dyslexia in a classroom, Kathy showed a clip from the Dyslexia for a Day series from the Dyslexia Training Institute. The frustration and  propensity of children to just give up when a task is too difficult became readily understandable for the participants and viewers. Increasing our understanding of the struggle that children with dyslexia encounter every day in school is crucial so that parents and teachers can be more compassionate and have more realistic expectations.

To further increase your knowledge of dyslexia, two books that Kathy recommends reading are Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman to gain an understanding of how much effort kids with dyslexia expend during the school day and what their bodies and brains need when they arrive home after school. Further reading recommendations include:

  • The Dyslexic Advantage by B./F. Eide
  • The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss
  • The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel
  • The Optimistic Child by Martin Seligman
  • The Relaxation Revolution by Herbert Benson, MD
  • Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives by Peter Johnston

You can also view the slides from the presentation.
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If you have further questions about what the next steps are in your search for what is best for your child, Kathy is available to discuss your needs via email at kathy@hillsidelearning.org or by calling her at Hillside at 303-494-1468.