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The Truth About Dyslexia

Through my years as an educator, many parents told me they thought their child was dyslexic because they were reversing Bs and Ds. This is definitely something to be mindful of as your child enters second grade or so, but there are other signs of dyslexia that are a little more telling. Let’s take a look at a few myths about dylexia.

Myth #1: Dyslexia is about reversing letters. The most basic sign of dyslexia is not “reversed letters” as many people think, but rather weak phonemic awareness skills. Phonemic awareness and auditory processing skills are the underlying cognitive abilities to hear and remember the smallest individual units of sound in a word. The word dyslexia actually means “poor with words or trouble with reading.” Some of the most common symptoms include: • Difficulty transferring what is heard to what is seen and vice versa. • Struggles pronouncing new words. • Poor at distinguishing similarities/difference in words (no, on). • Weak at letter sound discrimination (pin, pen). • Low reading comprehension.

Myth #2: Dyslexia is a lifelong label. Dyslexia doesn’t need to be a permanent diagnosis or condition. It is simply a term identifying someone with a reading difficulty. As with almost all learning struggles, the most common root cause is one or more weak cognitive skills – the fundamental tools of effective learning. Every child is born with varying skills and abilities. These abilities are called cognitive skills. Cognitive skills are the underlying tools that enable us to successfully focus, think, and process information. A child’s skill set is made up of several cognitive skills including auditory processing, visual processing, short and long-term memory, comprehension, logic and reasoning, and attention skills. In children with dyslexia, the weakest cognitive skills are phonemic awareness and auditory processing, although other areas may suffer as well—and these areas can be improved!

Myth #3: There’s nothing parents can do to help. Although someone diagnosed with dyslexia needs intensive one-on-one remediation, there are some things parents can do at home to help improve their children’s phonemic awareness and auditory processing skills.

They include:

• Sound segmenting games: Say a two-sound word, like bee or tie, and have the child tell you which sounds are in the word (“/b/” and “/ee/” for “bee” and “/t/” and “/ie/” for “tie”). Then start to increase to three-sound words like cat, (“/k/” “/a/” and “/t/”) and tree (“/t/” “/r/” and “/ee/”). This builds auditory segmenting which is necessary for spelling when children get older.

• Phonetics using building blocks: Help develop analytical skills by using blocks to make up nonsense words starting with two to three blocks. Create a nonsense word, then have the child remove one of the blocks and add a new one while verbally trying to figure out what the new nonsense word sounds like. (If they can’t read, just say the sounds for them, and ask them to try to figure out from hearing the sounds what the new word would sound like when they switch the blocks).

Common Symptoms of Dyslexia
• Family history of reading problems
• Predominant in males (8:1, M:F)
• Average/above-average IQ                                
• Better at math
• May mispronounce common words
• No enjoyment of leisure reading
• Stronger oral comprehension
• Poor visual memory for letters
• Auditory language difficulties in word finding, fluency, meaning, or sequence

To learn more about cognitive skills and learning, call The Woodlands LearningRx at 832.482.3082 and request a free digital copy of the book Unlock the Einstein Inside: Applying New Brain Science to Wake up the Smart in Your Child.