What is Dyslexia? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Is your child mixing up letters and sounds together when they read? Do they grow frustrated when they are trying to read?

Dyslexia is a top of mind concern whenever parents see their child have trouble with reading. It is a well-known language disorder affecting an estimate of 15%-20% of the world’s population. And yet, there are many misconceptions that surround it.

In this post, we will talk about dyslexia and how it may affect your child. We’ll also dispel some misconceptions, and give steps for seeking help for your family.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a language learning disability that is usually characterized by reading difficulty. It affects the areas of the brain that processes language.

This language disorder gives children a hard time learning new words and retrieving them, affecting their basic reading, writing and spelling skills. While they typically speak well, they have a hard time finding words to say and may pause from time to time.

As a reading impairment, dyslexia impacts a child’s learning journey. Keeping up in a traditional educational setting becomes a struggle. They often need learning accommodations in school, such as extra time for homework and reading support.

There’s no exact cause yet for dyslexia, but studies show that it may be hereditary. Dyslexia is also usually accompanied by other language disorders. A common accompaniment is ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder), which also affects a child’s focus and brings increased hyperactivity.

Effects and Complications

When unaddressed, dyslexia can lead to a lot of issues. School-aged children will exhibit trouble learning and reading, hindering their educational progress. Dyslexia may cause low self-esteem in children and teens, and even cause them to withdraw from socializing with family and peers.

With extra effort and support, young children with dyslexia may still manage to keep up with classmates. Without this additional effort, the difficulty and progress gap widens when children reach higher grade levels.

Dyslexia should not be taken as a sign of a child’s lack of intelligence or their unwillingness to learn. With the right conditions and specialized learning, children with dyslexia can excel just as much as other children.

It can also cause further problems when they grow up to be working adults. They may carry their slow language skills, affecting their performance in work spaces.

Letters and Dyslexia

Signs of Dyslexia

There are a few signs that you can look out for your child when it comes to dyslexia. Often they will come up when your child starts learning to read. Before they reach school age, you’ll notice a few of these warning signs.

  • late speech development (check out our milestones post for younger children)
  • struggle with learning rhymes
  • slow learning of new words
  • problems with differentiating letters, numbers and colors

When they reach school age, their teacher may mention if they are falling behind at school. Teachers may give detailed feedback, but you should be able to see these common signs as well.

  • reading skill is below their expected grade level
  • hard time comprehending or understanding what they hear
  • writing letters in strange ways (rotated or replaced letters) and incorrect spelling.
  • difficulty with learning sequences, such as the alphabet

Keep in mind that dyslexia is a different experience for everyone. Some may have a milder impact that is manageable, but others may have more trouble with it. This is especially so when dyslexia comes along with another language disorder.

There may be other speech disorders that are aligned with such symptoms but it’s best not to rule out the possibility of dyslexia.

Reading and Dyslexia 1

How to Seek Help

When you notice your child’s difficulty with reading, it may be time to seek advice. However, remember that the pace of speech development may vary from child to child.

In some cases, your child may only need some further instruction, or a different approach to study. However, it is best to seek professional attention as early as possible when there are several signs present.

Your pediatrician may conduct an initial screen test for your child. If further evaluation is needed, they may refer you to a psychologist who can do the full diagnosis. Only a registered private or school-based psychologist can complete a diagnosis for dyslexia.

Since dyslexia affects speech processing as well, you may be recommended to seek a speech-language pathologist that can work with your child’s reading and speaking.

Child Trouble with Speech and Language
Dyslexia is best addressed at an early age. While it’s not completely treatable, there are ways to make it easier for the kids that experience it.

If you’re concerned about your child’s reading and language skills, Apheleia Speech can help. Book a consultation today for an initial evaluation for their speech development.

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Lauren Templeton - Apheleia Speech Therapy
Lauren Templeton

Owner & Speech-Language Pathologist

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