A number of parents have asked me about what they can do for their dyslexic child so I thought I should post this…
Before I begin, I should state that I’m no expert on this subject. Neither of my boys have dyslexia and both of them are reading well thanks to an early interest in words and books, good influence (Mummy and Daddy are avid readers), and BrillKids Little Reader.
What is Dyslexia?
“Dyslexia is impaired reading ability with a competence level below that expected on the basis of the person’s level of intelligence, and in the presence of normal vision, letter recognition, and recognition of the meaning of pictures and objects.“
It is important to note that individuals with dyslexia are of regular intelligence. Dyslexia is a condition that interferes with the individual’s ability to process written material, therefore it is a learning disability rather than an intellectual disability. Dyslexia affects boys more than girls and is a genetic condition that is hereditary – if you have it, there is a 40-60% likelihood that your child will develop it.
Can You Prevent Dyslexia?
When I was encouraging my boys to learn to read early with flash cards, I was warned of the possible harm I might be inflicting upon them. I think the warning went something along the lines of: “when the children are too young, teaching them to read can increase their likelihood of developing dyslexia” – or something like that. The fact that dyslexia is hereditary already debunks this misguided belief.
But what if your child has the potential for this genetic condition? There was an interesting finding that early reading might actually be able to help prevent dyslexia. If you want to reduce the likelihood of your child developing dyslexia, encouraging early literacy is a good idea. While you’re at it, you should also teach your child to read from left to right by underlining the words with your index finger as you read them.
What About Children with Dyslexia? What Can be Done About it?
Early diagnosis and early intervention are important for children with dyslexia. Specialised programs that are implemented as early as preschool show a lot of promise for the dyslexic child. The following are articles and information on programs and methods that can help children with learning disabilities:
- Handwriting practice has been found to be helpful for dyslexic students learning to read. Teaching the dyslexic child can be facilitated by engaging as many of the senses as possible.
- The FastForward Program has been shown to be very promising for children with dyslexia.
- The Arrowsmith Program – this was designed by Barbara Arrowsmith who had severe learning disabilities herself. She successfully managed to “normalise her deficiencies” and started the Arrowsmith school to help other people with learning disabilities.
- Mindsparke – this is an alternative to the Arrowsmith Program (since the Arrowsmith schools aren’t available to everyone).
- “The Woman Who Changed Her Brain” tells the story of Barbara Arrowsmith and how individuals with learning disabilities can dramatically transform their lives.
- Right Brain Education for brain disabilities. In his book, Shichida talked about children with brain disabilities who were able to “normalise” after receiving right brain education. Pamela Hickein from Right Brain Kids also concurs that children with delays (including dyslexia) make the most progress with right brain education.
- Brain training builds on the brain’s neuroplasticity to help learning-disabled students improve cognition and perception.