Dyslexia is the most common specific learning disability and believed to affect some 10% of the Australian population.
It is characterised as a language-based difficulty, and children can struggle with any of the pre-reading skills detailed above. For example, children with dyslexia have difficulties with letter orientation (reversals of letters are common), they experience difficulties with sequencing so learning the alphabet can be a long process, or they may struggle with phonemes and find distinguishing sounds in everyday speech and matching these with their letter shapes (aka phonics) very challenging.
Secondary problems with word comprehension, spelling, writing and knowledge acquisition may also develop as a result of dyslexia, and if left untreated can have broad and significant effects on academic success and wellbeing. It is not uncommon for children experiencing dyslexia to also exhibit intense frustration, act aggressively, or withdraw.
According to Handler (2016), some signs of dyslexia to look out for include:
Trouble learning nursery rhymes
Frequently confusing words that sound alike
Difficulty recognising letters of the alphabet
primary school-aged children
Difficulty learning names and sounds of letters
Difficulty separating sounds or sounding out words
Difficulty recognising words
Difficulty with spelling
Slow, laboured reading and often strongly dislike reading
Slow or ‘choppy’ reading
Requiring additional time to complete assignments/exams
History of reading difficulty
Supporting your Child with Dyslexia
The good news is, despite being a lifelong & persistent condition, children with dyslexia can learn to read and it is never too late to intervene! Lawrence (2009) states children with dyslexia often need to overlearn the rules of language requiring a lot of repetition and practice! This begins at home as parents, carers and siblings talk, read, and play with the child.
While it can be tempting for parents to attempt to support their child with reading difficulties by teaching them to read at home – and parental encouragement has a positive influence – it is important to ensure the cause of the reading difficulty is investigated correctly through discussion with teachers, and referral to a speech pathologist or psychologist. If the child is diagnosed with dyslexia after a comprehensive assessment, these professionals can provide the specialist training required.
Nonetheless, parents can still help kids with dyslexia at home by supporting pre-reading skills through play. Types of play to help at home include:
Playing our Psychologist recommended board games and activities listed below.
Playing I-Spy or naming/sorting games to encourage identification of initial sounds/letters of objects.
Reading nursery rhymes – to support recognising phonemes (sounds of letters) in words and picking out rhyming words.
Children with dyslexia often experience weaknesses in short-term memory, so parents can help strengthen this by playing simple memory games asking “What did we do on the weekend?” to encourage recall.