Understanding and Supporting Children with Dyslexia
Dyslexia affects a child’s ability to recognize and manipulate the sounds in language. The relationship between sounds and written symbols is called phonics. Phonics instruction is therefore associated with print. This is not, however, the only sound-spelling relationship that dyslexic children suffer from.
Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words. Before a child even learns to read print, they must first be aware of the relationship between sounds and words. Therefore, most phonemic awareness tasks are oral.
Learning difficulties are just the beginning of the negative effects of dyslexia. Difficulty with reading, writing and spelling stems from having difficulty decoding new words, or breaking them down into manageable chunks that can be sounded out. Frustration can run deep because the student’s ability is not reflected by his or her achievement.
What are the signs of dyslexia?
This disconnect between sounds and words manifests itself in a myriad of ways. Young people with dyslexia may suffer from speech delay. They sometimes have trouble following directions. Even telling left from right can prove difficult.
In school, they usually lack fluency and have greater difficulty sounding out new words, in comparison to other children their age. It is common for them to reverse letters and numbers when reading. Taking notes and copying down words from the board can prove difficult. Eventually, this has a cumulative effect. Dyslexic students will avoid being called on to read out loud in front of classmates. They become tired for frustrated from reading.
What is the social and emotional impact of dyslexia?
It is difficult to imagine just how significant an impact these difficulties can have on someone’s ability to express themselves. When you consider the frustration alone, it is easy to see how they can make anyone feel bad about themselves. Awareness of dyslexia still has a long way to go. Dyslexic children are still often accused of not trying hard enough to learn to read. Teachers and parents fail them when they focus only on the results without considering the student’s ability. Noticing that gap is the key to understanding just what it feels like to struggle with dyslexia.
How do I support my child?
First and foremost, a dyslexia diagnosis does not mean your child will never learn to read. There is a whole host of drills, strategies and programs to help kids derive meaning from what they are reading. What your child needs is for you to support both their efforts and their successes. Celebrating small victories and accomplishments, while focusing less on correcting their errors, will make them more comfortable reading.
Build your child’s confidence by encouraging activities that he or she likes and feels good at. This can be music, sports or anything else that helps build confidence. Point out famous success stories of individuals who were diagnosed with dyslexia, like Whoopi Goldberg and Steven Spielberg.
Demystifying the learning disorder is the key to warding off the frustration, embarrassment and low self-esteem. Discuss the specific challenges with your child. Acknowledge effort and identify strengths. Only one other person will need to learn to talk and think like this: your child. Listen for negative self-talk and reverse it. The world is hard enough without your child being hard on him or herself.
Alpha School an private special education school in New Jersey
Our Mission at The Alpha School is to help all of our special needs students with the learning, social, language, and behavioral support they deserve. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student to becoming the best they can while providing a safe and nurturing educational environment.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child’s specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.370.1150, or request a tour of Alpha School of Jackson, NJ located just minutes off of Route 9 and Route 195 in Ocean County.
— Monica DeTuro, Principal-Alpha School, Jackson, NJ