In Singapore, for every class with 40 students, at least one or two have dyslexia. This is a significant number of students that need help if they are to cope in a competitive environment like Singapore. Unless dyslexia is identified and treatment is given, children with dyslexia will have trouble catching up with other students, and this can be frustrating to teachers and parents, but mostly the students.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning disorder. People with it struggle with spelling, writing, reading, and speaking. Unfortunately, children with dyslexia are initially assumed to be slow and not bright. On the contrary, people with dyslexia are often smart. This is why you find them working so hard to get things right, even when they don’t understand why they struggle so much.
Unfortunately when dyslexia is not diagnosed, the child will continue struggling into adulthood. Early diagnosis gives every child with dyslexia the chance to excel in their education and achieve their dreams.
Causes and Symptoms of Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a condition that results from inconsistency in the part of the brain that processes language. Tests carried out on people with dyslexia show that some parts of the brain do not work as expected when one reads.
A keen parent or teacher will notice dyslexia the moment a child starts learning how to read. When children first go to kindergarten, teachers teach them the sounds of the letters, which is the foundation required in the formation of words. For example, the letter B makes a “buh” sound, while M the “em” sound. A child will eventually be able to say the words ‘bat’ and ‘mat’ after learning the sounds. This will be easy for a child without dyslexia to do.
A child with dyslexia has trouble connecting the letters to the sound. Things get messier when it comes to blending these letters and sounds into words. The words appear jumbled up or in a different sequence. For example, when a child without dyslexia sees the word “bat”, one with dyslexia may see “tab”. This is the primary reason people with dyslexia have trouble reading.
It is important to note that dyslexia is linked to genes. If you have dyslexia, chances are your child may suffer from the same. This knowledge makes it possible for parents to seek treatment once they realize their child also has dyslexia.
People who have dyslexia don’t experience the same challenges. Some have a mild case of dyslexia which is easy to manage, while others have more trouble. Whichever the case, dyslexia can be treated.
Treatment Options for Children with Dyslexia
Children with dyslexia require an educational approach that is different from the one used on children without dyslexia. A psychology test is done to ensure your child gets the right treatment. Every child with dyslexia is unique and requires treatment that targets the specific challenge he or she faces.
1. Focus on the words the child understands
Although children with dyslexia face challenges when it comes to reading and identifying words, over time, the child becomes more comfortable with specific words. Parents and teachers can help build a vocabulary of the words the child recognizes easily. This will help monitor the child’s progress over time.
2. Concentrate on Small Sounds
Words are made up of different sounds, some longer than others. Since children with dyslexia have trouble connecting the sounds with the letters, teachers should focus on small sounds that make up words and build on that based on the child’s progress.
3. Seek Assistance from a Tutor with Experience Teaching Children with Dyslexia
Teachers need to understand the individual needs of the students. Unfortunately, it may not be possible for a child with dyslexia to get all the attention he or she needs from a teacher who has a class of 40 students. Parents or the school may seek help from a tutor or a learning centre with a better understanding of the needs of children with dyslexia to supplement and guide the learning.
4. Customized Education Plan
If a child with dyslexia is having trouble with the traditional education set up, a suitable one can be tailor-made for him or her. The goal should be the same as for any other child in the classroom. However, the method of executing the lesson can be different. Parents need to sit down with teachers to come up with a structured plan that both parties can agree on.
What More Can I Do to Help My Child Overcome Dyslexia?
1. Talk to Your Child
When you find out that your child has Dyslexia, the first thing to do is to speak your child. Help him understand what Dyslexia is and what challenges he or she may face. It is crucial to also let your child know that having Dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of and that you will help him overcome it. This way, you can show him that you understand and support him.
2. Read To Your Child
Read as often as possible to your child. Even if your child is too young to read, reading to him will improve his oral and comprehension skills in the future. A child’s development of listening skills is a precursor to his progress in reading and writing. Furthermore, reading aloud to your child at a young age will encourage them to develop an interest in reading. Hence, reading to your child will help him develop literacy skills and cope with Dyslexia.
Some tips to help with reading include:
- Encourage your child to shadow you in reading
- Use songs or rhymes to promote phonetic awareness
- Use audio books to also teach critical listening
- Gradually choose more difficult books
- Create a stash of books to encourage reading from an early age
Use a ruler or pencil and follow the lines while reading
3. Nurture Your Child’s Talents
Children with dyslexia may face trouble with self-confidence because of their inability to learn seemingly basic skills such as reading and writing. Many children with dyslexia feel incompetent to their peers and doubt their ability to excel in school. Often, many parents are too focused on the child’s disabilities that they fail to notice the child’s strengths and abilities.
Therefore, as a parent, you need to observe what your child is good at and support them in doing what they love. For example, your child could be an exceptional athlete or boast an artistic flair. Noticing your child’s strengths and helping him develop them will build his confidence and self-esteem.
When Should You See a Professional?
Many adults with dyslexia missed great opportunities when they were younger because they did not receive an early diagnosis. Children with dyslexia who do not receive help early will likely lag behind academically and may never be able catch up with their peers. Therefore, identifying dyslexia early will help your child gets an equal chance at being successful as any other child.
If you are concerned that your child may have dyslexia, we are able to help you to find out what the next steps are. Singapore Brain Centre’s testing can quickly uncover any specific auditory processing deficits. A developmental plan can be created to strengthen those specific weaknesses and rebuild the reading foundation your child needs. We use different tried and tested cognitive brain training techniques to make reading and writing achievable for your child. Find out more about the personalized and trusted dyslexia treatment offered here at SBDC.