How to Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Dyslexia in Children, and What to Do About It

Dyslexia is a common affection that afflicts a lot of children around the world, and a lot of times, this affection continues into adulthood. It can affect everyone, and even many celebrities have confessed that they’ve been struggling with dyslexia, including Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey, and Orlando Bloom. 

Even stellar minds like Albert Einstein and Walt Disney struggled with dyslexia, so it’s definitely a lot more common than you think. However, it’s a condition that can be improved and even conquered; the sooner you recognize the signs and symptoms, the better the outcome. We know that dyslexia begins in childhood, so, how can parents and teachers spot the signs and start providing support to a child suffering from dyslexia

The different types of dyslexia

You might be surprised to know that there are several different kinds of dyslexia. Depending on the signs and symptoms, your child might be suffering from one or more of the following:

  • Phonological dyslexia – trouble spelling, slow reading, difficulty recognizing letters and letter combinations
  • Rapid naming dyslexia – difficulty figuring out words, slow to respond and to read, frequently using the wrong word or leaving out words entirely
  • Surface dyslexia – difficulty reading new words, trouble spelling and recognizing words, trouble reading words that sound different than how they are spelled
  • Visual dyslexia – difficulty focusing on text, blurred or double vision, frequently losing track of where they are in the text, frequent headaches and eyestrain while reading and writing
  • Double deficit dyslexia – the most severe form of dyslexia, manifests as weak phonological awareness, and trouble recalling words and phrases on the spot

Your child might be exhibiting a mix of signs and symptoms specific to different types of dyslexia. This is quite common, so don’t despair. It’s important, however, to recognize the areas where your child seems to struggle the most. Are they ok writing words but have trouble reading them out loud or spelling them? Are they struggling with eye strain and blurred vision while reading? Do they have trouble recognizing words they’ve seen before? A counselor or tutor specialized in dyslexia can help pinpoint the source of the problem and help your child overcome their difficulties through the right exercises. 

The signs of symptoms of dyslexia in children

Dyslexia can manifest differently from child to child, so it’s not always easy to spot. In early childhood, kids are still learning to read and write fluently, so it can be hard to distinguish normal learning curves from dyslexia. However, there are a few things to look out for, things that can alert you to the fact that your child might be struggling with dyslexia. Below is a list of the most common signs and symptoms of dyslexic disorder in children:

  • Difficulties reading, writing, and spelling
  • Trouble remembering the alphabet or nursery rhymes
  • Frequent grammar errors and misspelling of words
  • Inability to recognize words quickly
  • Difficulty understanding the words and phrases they are reading
  • Frequent use of verbal ‘fillers’ – uhm, um, erm, uh
  • Losing track of the text and having to re-read passages
  • Troubles with pronunciation and phonetics 
  • Difficulties expressing themselves in words 
  • A tendency to avoid reading or writing tasks
  • Self-esteem issues, isolation, aggressive behavior 
  • Irritability and a decline in academic performance

These are just some of the most common signs and symptoms of dyslexia in children, but the list is definitely not exhaustive. However, if you notice that your child is having a lot of trouble with reading and writing, either at school or at home, and that this is causing them to become irritable, withdrawn, or aggressive, it might be a sign that they’re suffering from dyslexia. So, what can you do to help them?

How can we help children suffering from dyslexia?

Let’s say you’ve observed several of the signs we listed above in your child or a student. What can you do to help them overcome this challenge and improve their reading and writing? 

First of all, it’s essential to not make matters worse by putting too much pressure on the dyslexic child. Don’t expose the problem and insist or force them to do exercises or try reading or spelling in public to help them ‘get over it.’ Dyslexia isn’t something one can just get over, it’s a real issue that can affect one’s emotional wellbeing and mental health. A child’s mind is even more fragile, and the more pressure we place on them to fix this problem, the more they are likely to withdraw and avoid reading and writing altogether. It can even lead to anxiety and depression, so your initial approach is the most crucial step of the process. 

What you can do is help your child understand that dyslexia is completely normal, and something that many children and adults struggle with around the world. Then you can support them in overcoming their difficulties without applying any pressure or deadlines or criticizing them when they don’t get something right. 

In the classroom

An important step is to make good use of existing screening services provided by schools and education organizations, which can identify students who are experiencing reading difficulties and might be struggling with dyslexia. Don’t just rely on your intuition to make a diagnosis, but work with the school to identify the problem and find the right solutions for the specific needs of your child. These screenings can begin as early as kindergarten, and they usually evaluate language skills, phonological awareness, memory, rapid naming, and more. These early screenings can help identify students who are most at risk of developing dyslexia, and find ways to stop it from progressing and affecting academic performance.  

Solutions for children struggling with dyslexia in the classroom can include any or more of the following:

  • Orton-Gillingham, Wilson, or Lindamood-Bell methods and exercises
  • Repeating assignments and directions multiple times
  • Highlighting the essential information in a text for children
  • Providing children with summaries or notes of the lesson 
  • Integrating assistive technologies, including tablets, audiobooks, and other interactive devices
  • Giving children extra time to complete tasks in the classroom and allowing for flexible work times
  • Not putting students with dyslexia on the spot during lessons; this could hurt their confidence and make them too self-aware

At home

For parents, it’s important to lead by example, and make your child see that reading can be an enjoyable and relaxing activity, instead of a task or a chore. Leave books around the house that you know your child might enjoy, and let them pick up the books on their own, without being pressured. Encourage bedtime reading, but don’t pressure your child to read out loud; instead, you be the one to read to them. Eventually, they might be inclined to participate or engage and ask if they can read parts of the story themselves.

Try to set an example, as well; if your child will see you reading around the house, whether it’s books, articles, or the newspaper, they will be more tempted to try it themselves. The main point is to show your child that reading is not something to be dreaded, but enjoyed. 

To speak with a professional about this, reach out to Da Vinci Collaborative. We have experts on our team with years of experience working with children suffering from dyslexia, autism, ADHD, and other disorders, and they are ready to provide any information you might need.

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