Resources for Families with Special Needs

Understanding Dyslexia

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What Is Dyslexia?
dyslexiaSome authorities believe that it is strictly a language-processing problem involving the distinguishing of sounds of letters. Others believe that it is a visual/perceptual problem, since these children also reverse words laterally (b/d) and vertically (m/w) as well as scrambling letters (the=het) when they read and write.

Does My Child Have Dyslexia?
You can suspect dyslexia in your child when the following auditory and visual processing symptoms occur, and your child is about two years behind in reading (a child does not need to display all the symptoms to be diagnosed as having dyslexia):

Auditory Processing
1.    Difficulty learning the names of alphabet letters when in kindergarten
2.    Spelling has no phonetic pattern to it (Tuesday=Tunday)
3.    Sounds out all words, including sight words (many, could, these)
4.    Poor memory of words just read in a previous sentence
5.    Sounds out the letters in a word, but can’t put it into a whole (b-a-t)
6.    Memorizes stories but can’t remember same words in another story

Visual Processing
1.    Visually reverses whole words (on=no, was=saw)
2.    Regularly reads big for dig
3.    Very slow, labored reading (often takes a deep breath)
4.    Reading a year and a half or more below grade level
5.    Says words when he reads
6.    Reads a word from the line above and adds to present line, often

What Is the Difference Between Dyslexia and Dysgraphia?
Simply put, dyslexia involves much difficulty reading and spelling. Dysgraphia involves much difficulty writing.
Many children/teenagers with dyslexia often have an accompanying dysgraphia. Kids with dyslexia almost always also have dysgraphia. However, many kids who do not have dyslexia, and in fact, may read way above grade level, have just the dysgraphia.

How Can I Work With My Child at Home?
Brain integration therapy exercises and once-a week “re-trainings,” which use physical movements to “re-connect” the two hemispheres, is the first step followed by the Right Brain Reading Program, which is an Orton Gillingham-based phonics and spelling method. This tool can be purchased or can be easily made at home by the parent. I regularly can get a dyslexic 10-year-old who is a non-reader (can’t even spell his last name) reading eight sight words (e.g., many, they, city, what) and spelling them from memory in just a half-hour, using his strong photographic memory. The child’s eyes light up, because he suddenly feels so smart … and it didn’t feel like work at all.

To learn about the step-by-step teaching method that I used in my special education class, download my Free Daily Lesson Plan for a Struggling Reader from www.diannecraft.org.
This method works with first-graders to eighth-graders who have dyslexia. Go wild and invest in some colored markers and pictures, and have fun teaching your child how to use his/her powerful right brain to make the learning process easier.

Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP
Copyright 2012, used with permission courtesy of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine .