How Dyslexia Affects Your Child’s Brain

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A deeper understanding of dyslexia

Dyslexia is a common condition that affects 1 in 5 kids. Even though the name is familiar, you may not know much about it, beyond a vague notion that dyslexia makes it difficult to read.

We want to help you understand the science behind dyslexia. If your child has been recently diagnosed – or you suspect he or she may have it – this can be a good resource, so you know where to look for help.

What is dyslexia?

Let’s start with the basics and explain dyslexia in the most basic terms. It is a learning disorder that causes difficulty with spelling, speaking, writing, and rhyming.

Kids with dyslexia have trouble interpreting and processing written words and numbers. It is not a visual disorder, but rather a cognitive one. Meaning, it’s related to how the brain works.

It’s important to understand that dyslexia does not relate to intelligence in any way. Children with dyslexia often high IQs, and they are fully capable of going on to enjoy satisfying careers as adults.

They just need to teach their brains how to “interpret” words and numbers.

Signs of dyslexia

It is also helpful to know signs that indicate your child might have dyslexia. Most children are diagnosed once they reach school age, but you can spot signs even earlier.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Delayed speech
  • Difficulty pronouncing words and mixing up words and/or sounds in words
  • Trouble retaining letters, words, and numbers
  • Reverses letters and numbers (they read “saw” versus “was”)
  • Reading below age level
  • Struggles with rhyming, associating sounds with letters and/or sequencing sounds
  • Trouble processing information
  • Trouble following multistep directions
  • Avoids or becomes easily frustrated from reading
  • Struggles to read aloud
  • Frequent spelling issues
  • Trouble with math problems
  • Difficulty summarizing a story
  • Struggles to learn a foreign language
  • Lack of coordination

Here are specific ways to evaluate your child for signs of dyslexia.

How dyslexia affects learning

For children to learn to read, they have to learn how speech sounds relate to words. We call this phonemic awareness. It’s what allows young children to recognize the individual sounds that make up language (phonemes).

Children learn to connect speech sounds to letters (phonics) and eventually connect those letters to written words. Finally, they will begin to remember and recognize familiar words.

The process of reading actually begins in infancy, according to a Harvard Medical School article.

The process goes like this:

  1.  Infants – Learn to process sounds.
  •  Preschool/kindergarten – Learn phonological processing or how to manipulate sounds associated with language
  •  Learn single words and develop vocabulary so they can read/understand complete sentences.
  •  Finally, they master the ability to read fluently.

Children who have dyslexia struggle with both phonemic awareness and phonics. They also struggle to retain and remember new words.

In very early grades, a child may be able to keep up, but they eventually fall behind as their peers begin to read and write fluently.

NOTE: It’s important to note that reversing or mixing up letters is common when children are first learning to talk or write. This does not automatically mean they have dyslexia. Most children grow out of the habit by the time they are school age. You may have a have reason to be concerned if the problem persists into first or second grade.

Different types of dyslexia

In fact, dyslexia can come in different forms. Some experts refer to them as “categories” that refer to specific deficits or struggles a child may experience.

  1. Phonological dyslexia (aka dysphonetic or auditory): Trouble breaking words down into syllables or smaller units. Children often struggle to match sounds with written words.
  • Surface dyslexia (aka dyseidetic or visual): An inability to recognize written words by sight. These children have trouble learning and remembering words. They may also have an altered visual experience when they read.
  • Rapid naming deficit: Trouble naming written letters or numbers right away when they see them.
  • Double deficit dyslexia: Trouble isolating sounds to identify letters and numbers.

Understanding which category your child falls under will go a long way to getting him/her the help he/she needs.

Find help at Learning Lab

Learning Lab is a specialized center for children who struggle with dyslexia or other learning conditions. We provide a nurturing environment that encourages students to reach their potential. With expert guidance, children with dyslexia are equipped with the tools to decode words and become accomplished academics.

One of the tools we utilize is the Fast ForWord reading program. This program is an online language program that “targets learning struggles at their core, starting in the brain.”

Fast ForWord is designed for children who struggle with dyslexia, along with several learning problems and conditions including:

  • Reading difficulties
  • Auditory processing disorder (APD)
  • Mild to moderate autism
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Other learning disabilities

If your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia or you suspect he or she might have it, we can administer Dyslexia Screenings to verify the condition and determine the subtype. Contact us to find out how we can help.

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