Dyslexia: What it is and How it Can be Treated

Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s piece.

Today I received some worrying news. My 10-year old son, Christopher, was diagnosed with dyslexia. My husband and I were aware that there was an issue when his teacher brought to our attention that he was having some trouble in class. I’ll admit that we’re both terrified. Will he trail behind his schoolmates? Is he going to be held back a grade? Will he even be accepted into a college after high school? I know I’m getting ahead of myself, and Chris’s psychologist explained to us that he can still live a normal life, but I just can’t help but worry as a parent.

Rice Psychology Group Dyslexia

It can be quite a scare to learn that a child of yours has been diagnosed with a learning disorder (disability) or other issue. The good news is that dyslexia is a brain-based, language-processing problem that can be significantly improved with the right intervention. In this blog, we’ll be going over what dyslexia is, how it’s treated and other conditions that can co-occur with it.

Learning disorders of different types can affect a child’s ability to learn, focus and be themselves. Our licensed psychologists in Tampa can help you and your son or daughter learn more about their disorder and how to live with it.

What is It?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects a child’s ability to read accurately and fluently. Along with this, a child may also have issues with spelling, writing, reading comprehension and even math. It’s a life-long condition and is one of the most common learning issues diagnosed in children every year. Although the exact number of children with the condition is difficult to determine, experts believe that around 5% to 10% have it.

Know that dyslexia can’t be outgrown, but it can be managed through treatment and strategies. Click To Tweet

Typically, children with dyslexia have underlying difficulties with hearing and/or manipulating the sounds in words (phonological awareness). And when kids have trouble with recognizing and using different sounds in words, they are much more likely to have a hard time learning to read. Two other specific areas of difficulty seen in children with dyslexia include remembering what they hear or say long enough to repeat it accurately (phonological memory) and rapidly naming things such as letters or objects (rapid naming).

What all parents with dyslexic children should know is that it isn’t a visual problem that causes children to switch letters or write backwards. Although the condition can impact learning, it isn’t a problem with intelligence either. Kids with dyslexia can be as smart or even smarter than their schoolmates! In fact, many dyslexic children go on to have successful educations and careers. Know that dyslexia can’t be outgrown, but it can be managed through treatment and strategies.

How it’s Treated

Kids with dyslexia can be as smart or even smarter than their schoolmates! Click To Tweet

The best types of programs to treat dyslexia are commonly referred to as “multisensory structured language education”. They are research-based and offer a logical and sequential journey through the important parts of language development, reading, spelling and even vocabulary for those children who need it. When administered correctly, they allow dyslexic children and adults to learn at their own pace. One such approach, which is both flexible and sequential, is called Orton-Gillingham (OG).

Since dyslexia involves problems with language, intervention often begins with phonological awareness or teaching children to tune into the specific sounds that make up words. They are then taught to “play” with sounds to make new words. This is often done by using colored blocks to represent sounds rather than letters.

Phonics, which teaches kids about the relationship between sounds and the written letters we use to represent them, is another important feature that kids are taught to manage. These two sets of skills help kids decode or sound out and properly pronounce new words. Professionals that specialize in this type of therapy include psychologists, reading specialists, speech language pathologists and specially-trained teachers.

Therapy with dyslexic kids can be performed at their school or privately, although many parents find that they have to assertively advocate for their children to receive the most appropriate and adequately intensive services at school.

Conditions that Co-Occur with Dyslexia

Around 40% of dyslexic children also have ADHD. Click To Tweet

It’s common for children to be diagnosed with more than one learning disorder as well as other mental health problems. In fact, some of these issues involve problems that can appear as dyslexic symptoms. These include:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Around 40% of dyslexic children also have ADHD. However, some kids who fidget in class may simply be showing frustration in dealing with their dyslexia, which can be confused with ADHD.
  • Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) – This is an issue involving a child’s ability to distinguish sounds. Kids typically run into trouble with differentiating letter sounds and pronouncing new words.
  • Dyscalculia – Kids with this condition have trouble in math and can include issues with counting.
  • Dysgraphia – Involves problems with writing, from forming letters to writing paragraphs and even doing written math. Kids may also have trouble organizing their thoughts on paper.
  • Executive Functioning – This includes issues with working memory, being organized and flexible thinking.
  • Slow Processing – This can cause issues with reading. Kids may absorb, process and recall information at a slower pace.
  • Visual Processing Issues – Kids with this condition have trouble processing what they see. This can involve blurry vision that affects reading and writing.

Helping Your Child

Fearing for your child’s future after a learning disorder diagnosis is normal, however, in most cases, there is tremendous hope for a successful future ahead. At Rice Psychology Group, we’re well aware of how hard behavioral and learning issues can be to deal with, but we’re also aware that with effective treatment and caring, involved parents, the future can look bright. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how they can help you or your child.

About Rice Psychology

Rice Psychology Group is home to a team of psychologists who work tirelessly to help adults, adolescents and children deal with their issues. Whether you’re currently dealing with depression, going through a divorce or fighting an issue you just can’t understand, know that our Tampa psychologists are here to help.

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