Allison DeFrees is an online tutor who helps kids who have dyslexia learn to read.
She has put together this list of helpful information and resources for parents.
Be sure to drop down to the bottom of the page to watch the video that Allison has put together for you!
Dyslexia 101 Overview
1) Know What Dyslexia Is . . .
Knowing what dyslexia is can be as important as knowing what it is not. Helping your child understand how their brain thinks can be empowering.
2) Know What To Look For . . .
Keep your eyes open for the common signs of dyslexia in children.
3) Take The Next Step . . .
What should your next step be if you suspect that your child is struggling with dyslexia?
Meet The Founder of Telexia Tutoring
The HomeSchool ThinkTank Parenting Podcast
Understanding Dyslexia: A Step-By-Step Guide
Step One: Know What Dyslexia Is
“Dys” means difficulty. “Lex” comes from “ lexis” and means word. So, when we put these Greek word parts together, dyslexia means difficulty with words.
Dyslexia is a brain-based language disorder that dissociates a letter’s shape from its sound. For example, if a dyslexic needs to read the letter T, the dyslexic will have a hard time matching that letter to the sound “t.” The confusion advances when the T is in letter combinations such as TH or TCH.
Compared to an unaffected individual, the dyslexic brain uses different areas of the brain to decode written language and has great difficulty doing so. These individuals usually rely on other strengths and their intelligence to learn; they are resourceful, intuitive, hard working, and creative.
Dyslexia Is Not:
- A hearing problem.
- An eyesight problem.
- A problem with holding a pencil.
- Writing, reading, or seeing backwards.
Step Two: Know What To Look For
Basic “learning environment” checklist:
❏ Good sleep.
❏ Healthy eating.
❏ Physical exercise.
❏ Safe and comforting home environment.
❏ Quality time with friends and family.
❏ Normal vision and hearing.
Were you able to check off all of the learning environment boxes?
Is your child still experiencing great challenges with learning to read and spell?
Dyslexia concern checklist:
Try this checklist to assess if you feel there could be a problem with your child’s reading.
❏ My child is bright; I can tell and so can other adults around him/her.
❏ Despite many attempts for my child to learn to read or spell, doing so is still laborious.
❏ I feel like “nothing is sticking” for my child when I try to teach reading skills.
❏ I feel like my child is not reading on grade level.
❏ A well-meaning friend told me, “Just give your child more time…maybe another year.”
❏ My other children learned reading skills with the same instruction. Why doesn’t this instruction work for this child?
What do the experts look for?
The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity has an excellent list of signs of dyslexia for preschoolers to adults.
See the list here.
Step Three: Take The Next Step
If you suspect a learning difference associated with reading in your child, early action and intervention is the next step.
Suspicion to Action:
- Look up research-based and proven remediation strategies. The Orton-Gillingham method of multisensory education is the most researched, and many curricula draw on the O-G method.
- Educate yourself on the topic by watching these free training videos and reading books from this book list.
- Consider getting an educational psychological evaluation for your child from the public school or a private psychologist. In some cases, your insurance funds can be used to address dyslexia if it has been diagnosed by a psychologist.
- Understand what the laws say about accommodations for dyslexics (IEP, ADA, 504, and IDEA). Accommodations will help your child demonstrate their amazing abilities in (and outside of) school now and in the future (i.e.: college/trade school).
- Consider bringing in outside teaching for your child, such as a tutor who comes to the house or meets with your child online, or taking your child to a learning center or school for one-on-one teaching. Small-group learning environments like camps or meetups focused on dyslexia remediation could also be helpful.
A list of tutors, schools, and camps can be at the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators website.
Connect With Other Parents Who Are In The “Same Boat”
Learning differences can feel isolating to families, yet that doesn’t need to be the case. Look for Facebook groups, parent meetups, or create your own dyslexia-inspired book club with other parents in the same situation.
This homeschooling parent’s perspective from The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity may be a great starting point!
There are three important steps outlined here for you, as a parent, to take to learn more about dyslexia. The important part is, if you suspect your child has a learning difference, to work through these steps quickly to get your child the remediation they need.
- Know what dyslexia is.
- Know what to look for.
- Take the next step.