Ways you can help your child thrive with dyslexia
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters and other symbols. Dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language. A dyslexic person will see letters and words reversed or mixed up, even though there is nothing wrong with their eyes. It is often accompanied by strengths in creativity and big-picture thinking.
What are the early signs of dyslexia?
Young children may be later talking, slow to learn new words and have problems remembering letters, numbers and colours. You may find that your school aged child has difficulty with reading and spelling and is slow at tasks involving writing and reading. They often can’t find the right word to say and struggle with writing assignments. They will usually choose to avoid any activities that involve reading. Socially they may be struggling to fit in at school too.
You can read the full list of 37 common traits to test for dyslexia here by Davis Dyslexia Association International.
It’s also important to talk to your child’s teacher if you think your child has dyslexia to let them know your concerns and to see how they can help.
How can I help my child?
Children with dyslexia can easily develop low self-esteem so it is important to remember to support your child’s strengths and to praise their successes. Talk about their dyslexia openly with them so they know that they aren’t less intelligent and that it is just that their brains work differently.
Small things like playing fun word and language games with your child at home or in the car, reading together and talking about what you are doing will help your children understand how language works too.
Help your child to enjoy reading by finding a particular style, genre or author of books that they like. Clear font, short chapters and punchy story lines can help too. Try reading on electronic devices too, as some children will prefer these.
Will my child grow out of it?
Dyslexia is a life time condition that makes it difficult for people to read. You don’t outgrow it, but with the right support your child’s key skills can improve.
Are there any support groups?
As a parent you may benefit from talking with other parents in similar situations. You can find out from them what they have found has helped their children and what their family experiences have been.
You can find where your local Dyslexia support group in New Zealand is here: http://www.4d.org.nz/family/support_solutions.html
What organisations can help with my child's dyslexia learning difficulties?
There are lots of organisations in Auckland and New Zealand that can provide understanding, tools and skills for your dyslexic child to reach their full potential. These include:
SPELD NZ Inc
14 Erson Avenue, Royal Oak, Auckland
SPELD NZ is a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in assisting people with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities. They offer diagnostic assessments, one-to-one tuition, training and support.