Dyslexia in Children
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is often misunderstood.
Dyslexia is a kind of reading difference that affects one in five people. Contrary to popular belief, dyslexia means more than just mixing up letters or seeing words differently.
In fact, dyslexia is a processing delay that slows the brain’s ability to understand letters and words. This means that, during the reading process, the brain cannot keep up with the eyes. A dyslexic person’s eyes may rapidly scan words on a page, but it takes their brain longer to understand and interpret those words.
Dyslexia hinders thus decoding—a person’s ability to identify speech sounds and learn how they relate to written letters and words.
Oftentimes, a person with dyslexia will see words just like everyone else. However, because they cannot process words at the same rate as other people, they will stumble over, skip, or miscall words as they read them. The result is poor reading fluency.
Many parents are surprised by which words their child does—and does not—have trouble with. A child may read “hippopotamus” without difficulty but stumble over simple words like “with”, “because”, or “they.”
This is because people with dyslexia recognize words by their shapes and images associated with them. No word looks quite like “hippopotamus”, and no animal looks quite like a hippopotamus. For this reason, a dyslexic child will have no trouble reading this word or understanding its meaning. By contrast, small function words look very similar to other words on the page. There is no obvious mental image to associate with a simple word like “they”, and “they” can easily be confused with “them”, “then”, or “their.”
Children with dyslexia do not see words differently from other people. It simply takes them longer to process words and decode their sounds and meanings.
Symptoms of Dyslexia in Children
People with dyslexia typically suffer from poor reading fluency. They read at a slower pace and often feel mentally exhausted at the end.
Because they expend extra mental energy processing and decoding words, people with dyslexia often cannot concentrate on the meanings of the words. As such, they also suffer from poor reading comprehension.
Some common symptoms of dyslexia in children include:
- Poor spelling
- Slow, inaccurate, or difficult reading
- Omitting the last letters of words when reading or writing. For example, your child might say “jump” instead of “jumped” or “cat” instead of “cats.”
- Substituting words when reading aloud, such as saying “house” when the written text says “home.”
- Stumbling over the same words repeatedly while reading a passage.
- Skipping small function words such as “and”, “to”, “or”, etc.
- Struggling to use unfamiliar words, particularly without pictures or other context clues to indicate what the words mean.
- Difficulty explaining the meaning of a passage after reading it.
How We Treat Dyslexia in Children
Dyslexia can be challenging to overcome. However, with the aid of specialized education and tutoring programs, most children with dyslexia are more than capable of succeeding in school. While there is no ‘cure’ for dyslexia, there are many treatment options available to children with dyslexia.
Emerald City Therapies utilizes MTA, or Multisensory Teaching Approach, to treat dyslexia in children identified or suspected of having dyslexia. MTA is a research-based dyslexia program that engages multiple senses at one time.
For example, MTA might involve visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile sensory pathways. Other times, taste, smell, touch, sight, hearing, and movement might all be involved.
The goal of MTA is to remediate dyslexic students by helping them form associations between different sensory stimuli. By experiencing a reading lesson through multiple pathways at once, children are able to stimulate their brains and engage with the reading material more effectively.
Overall, MTA is a comprehensive, integrated language arts program that helps children practice reading, decoding and comprehension, spelling and composition, cursive handwriting, and alphabet and dictionary skills.
Our ungraded MTA curriculum encompasses the structure and science of the English language. It is organized into 7 Kits, and all students begin instruction with Kit 1. In general, one-hour lessons are recommended.
Managing and Overcoming Dyslexia
Make no mistake: any person with dyslexia can overcome and learn to compensate for their reading differences. Through targeted instruction and a commitment to learning, any child (or adult) can improve!
While dyslexia will never fully go away, it can be managed and overcome.
For more information, watch this very short overview of dyslexia.