A brief definition...
Dyslexia could be defined as a specific and durable learning disability affecting writing and/or reading skills. This learning disability can be present despite normal intelligence, sufficient cultural stimulations, and the absence of visual and hearing problems. Dyslexia is the result of a language difficulty with a constitutional origin. Its main characteristic is phonological processing difficulties. Dyslexia manifests itself through a wide range of difficulties that are present at different levels including reading, writing, and spelling.
Consequences of dyslexia
Without question, dyslexia is linked to many consequences. However, many factors such as the degree of severity of a child's dyslexia, early detection, and the level of support the child receives will influence how dyslexia will affect his life. Here is a list of the most common consequences:
- Slow reading and writing.
- Need to read instructions multiple times.
- Difficulty remembering verbal instructions.
- Confuses possessive and demonstrative pronouns (ex. his and these).
- Trouble conjugating verbs.
- Inversion of letters and syllables.
- disorganized and incoherent thoughts when written.
- Difficulty remembering important ideas and facts.
Dyslexia is one of the main causes of academic failure and, later in life, of professional and social problems. The attitudes developed by a child's family, social, and school environment can sometimes be inadequate and therefore lead to a disinterest in everything that requires reading efforts. Language skills are often poor. The child's abilities develop very slowly and require a lot of work. Because of this, it can be very difficult for a child with dyslexia to actively participate in conversations. An early diagnosis and parents' strong understanding of dyslexia are essential to provide their child with the adapted tools necessary to make academic tasks easier.
Symptoms vary greatly from one child to the next depending on the severity of a child's dyslexia. Children with dyslexia can experience difficulties in the following areas:
- Writing letters.
- Adequately writing the letters of the alphabet and writing them in the correct order.
- Naming letters.
- Arranging and writing letters or a series of letters that make up a word in the correct order, from left to right.
- Learning to write.
- Understanding what they read.
- Clearly expressing their ideas on paper.
- Clearly expressing their ideas verbally.
- Telling time.
- Distinguishing between left and right.
- Distinguishing different mathematical symbols.
- Solving mathematical problems.
- Memorizing multiplication tables.
- Taking a long time to complete homework.
- High level of stress when a specific performance level is asked of them.
- Deficient organizational skills.
- Poor impulse control.
What should I do if I suspect a child has dyslexia?
If you recognize many of these symptoms in a child you work with, you should immediately discuss his case with a teacher or healthcare professional to determine if he should be evaluated to verify if he is in fact dyslexic. To avoid academic failure, a dyslexic child will need strict and regular monitoring throughout elementary school. In less severe cases, dyslexia can decrease and practically disappear over time. In more severe cases, certain writing difficulties will be present throughout one's life. Nonetheless, written productions may continuously improve. For all these reasons, it is very important to seek professional help as soon as you suspect a child may be dyslexic.
How can I help a dyslexic child?
Several activities can be beneficial for children with dyslexia. Many can be found online. Working on pre-literacy skills is very important to make learning to read easier. Read on to discover a few skills that are necessary as well as activities to develop them.
Skill: Visual discrimination and sense of observation
Through different activities, verify if the child is able distinguish various similar shapes and identify identical shapes among many similar ones. Developing this skill will help the child distinguish words, syllables, and letters that are visually similar.
- Use several tiny objects that are identical (paper clips, coins, crayons, etc.) and place them in front of the child in a variety of ways. The child must determine which object is positioned exactly like another one.
- All games that involve identifying identical illustrations.
- With older children, try this activity with letters. Write the same letter correctly several times on a piece of paper and write it backwards once. Encourage the child to identify the letter that is different.
- Draw one complete picture and one incomplete picture. Let the child draw the missing parts on the incomplete picture to make it look exactly like the other one.
- Differences game. Give the child two nearly identical illustrations and invite him to search for differences.
- Trace the contour of several items or figures on a piece of paper and have the child associate each one with the correct outline.
- Show the child a picture containing several impossible details (a flying dog, a house in the sky, etc.) and invite him to find the errors.
Skill: Auditory discrimination
With these activities, verify if a child can distinguish similar sounds.
- Invite the child to close his eyes and identify a sound.
- Hide an object that produces a sound (alarm clock, timer, etc.) and ask the child to search for it.
- Play a musical instrument. The child must run when the intensity is high, walk when the intensity is moderate, and remain perfectly still when the intensity is low.
- Rhyming games.
- Have the child pick an illustration, name the object, and clap his hands for each new syllable.
- Have the child circle illustrations representing words that rhyme with a certain word.
Skill: Logical association
With this skill, our goal is to verify if the child is capable of associating elements that belong together. The child will therefore develop the abilities required to understand a written text.
- Finding the intruder. Present an illustration containing a few objects and encourage the child to determine which one does not belong in the same category.
- Connecting items that go together by drawing a line between them. For example, the child could draw a line between a baby and a bottle, a dog and a bone, etc.
- Invite the child to cut any items that remind him of a certain word out of magazines.
- Set several illustrations in front of the child. Read or invent a sentence linked to one illustration and encourage the child to identify the correct one.
Skill: Laterality and spatial awareness
The goal is to verify if a child can identify left and right, top and bottom, high and low, etc. In fact, it is indispensable for a child to understand that we read from left to right, that the lines of a text are positioned one on top of the other, how pages are turned, etc.
- Set objects to the right and to the left of the child. Ask him to name the objects that are on his left side and then the objects that are on his right side.
- All psychomotor activities. Set up a series of obstacles and ask children to crawl under the table, climb over the chair, etc.
- Give the child a series of oral instructions to complete an illustration. For example, you may ask him to draw a tree next to the house, a bird on top of the house, etc.
Skill: Chronology and understanding concepts of time
Since the child will have to perceive the order in which the events of a text are organized, he must understand the concept of a logical succession of events.
- Prepare culinary recipes with the child. Illustrate the different steps involved and use the illustrations for visual support.
- Have the child place a series of illustrations representing different daily activities in the correct order.
- Sequential stories where the child must place illustrations in logical order.
Note that several activity sheets that can help you work on these important skills are available in the educatall club.
Like all learning disabilities, dyslexia is complex. Each case is unique.
Do not hesitate to ask different healthcare professionals questions. A dyslexic child will need the support of the adults in his life. Gaining a better understanding of dyslexia will help the child succeed.