Dyslexia in Children – Causes, Signs and Treatment

A girl with dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterised by the inability of children to read and comprehend spellings; it is a common condition that affects growing children. The disorder often comes across as an intellectual disability, with a lot of social stigmas associated with it too. However, the condition is not a disability – it is merely the result of a lack of coordination between the hemispheres in the brain.

In many cases, dyslexic children have been thought to have a loss of vision or hearing or even considered to be impaired in terms of intelligence. These are nothing but myths, dyslexia does not signify any sort of impairments in the child. Let’s find out what dyslexia is, and how it can affect the life of a child.

What is Dyslexia?

In simple words, dyslexia is a learning disorder that can affect the reading, spelling and even speaking skills of a child. In most cases, the child seems smart and hardworking, but might not be able to spell simple words. However, dyslexia should not be confused with a learning disability. It is classified as a ‘special learning difficulty’, and occurs as a result of the right and left hemispheres of the brain not working well together. It is estimated that around ten percent of children have dyslexia, and the condition can be a lifelong one, too. Even though the disorder can be defined in a lot of ways, the most prominent symptom is that the child is unable to read and write well and spell basic words.

What are the Possible Causes of Dyslexia in Kids?

Even though extensive research has been carried out, the exact cause of dyslexia has not been found out. However, some of the possible causes are:

  • Genes: It has been found that dyslexia commonly runs in families, which means that a child is more likely to be dyslexic if his parents or grandparents were affected by the condition. Around 2 out of 5 siblings of children with dyslexia have the condition too, and around half of the parents of such children would have had this condition too. It was found that the genes associated with reading and comprehension were affected in children with dyslexia.
  • Brain Anatomy: In studies conducted among dyslexic children, it was found that the parts of the brain which were supposed to be active during reading and comprehension in normal people did not function as expected among the affected children. Therefore, dyslexia has been associated with problems in the functioning of the brain.
    A woman teaching a girl with dyslexia

Signs and Symptoms of Dyslexia

There are many dyslexic child symptoms, a few of which have been given below in an age-wise manner.

Preschool: The child has difficulty understanding whether two words rhyme, and also struggles with learning new words. He also has difficulties in matching particular sounds to their letters.

Grade School: The child may have trouble taking away or adding a sound from a word. Simple word problems in math are also difficult, and the child cannot remember spellings of words properly.

Middle School: Spellings of words are frequently wrong, and the child has trouble reading passages or sentences. The reading level of the child is far lower than the level in which he speaks.

High School: Similar to middle school, the child exhibits a much lower reading level compared to his peers. He might also prefer to answer multiple-choice questions compared to fill-in-the-blanks or sentences.

Different Issues that can Co-Occur with Dyslexia in Kids

Dyslexia does not just affect the reading skills of the child, it can have an impact on many other fronts as well. Some of these issues which can occur alongside dyslexia in the child are given here.

  1. ADHD: Children with dyslexia often exhibit a lack of concentration, with almost 40% of dyslexic children having this condition too. This makes reading and other activities even more difficult for the child.
  2. Executive Functioning Issues: Dyslexia can spill over into other learning processes in the child, too. Functions of flexible thinking, working memory, and organization can also get affected due to dyslexia.
  3. Processing Speed: Children with dyslexia are unable to process anything quickly, so the child is generally slow to respond to any form of information they receive. A lack of basic reading skills and difficulties in understanding what they have read can make life harder for the children.
  4. Auditory Processing Disorder: The ability of the child to comprehend what he hears is also affected by the onset of dyslexia. In dyslexic children, this causes an inability to differentiate between letter sounds and in sounding out new words.
  5. Visual Processing Cues: Parents of dyslexic children most commonly hear complaints from their children about letters ‘hopping around’ on the page. This occurs as a result of problems with visual processing and can result in blurry vision and problems in writing letters from memory.
  6. Dysgraphia: Children have issues with organizing their thoughts on paper. Therefore, the child is unable to spell properly or form letters and numbers.
  7. Dyscalculia: Math skills are also affected. Some children are unable to count while having dyslexia.

    Dyslexia diagnosis

Dyslexia Diagnosis in Children

The only sure way to check if your child has dyslexia is to make him undergo a full, comprehensive evaluation. You have to remember to check for any other medical problems associated with vision and hearing which may be causing these symptoms. The diagnosis can be carried out by school psychologists, clinical psychologists, or paediatric neuropsychologists. The process is done using tests, and any other issues affecting the child might also be evaluated. Parents may be required to fill in details of any family history in dyslexia if required.

Negative Effects of Dyslexia on Kids

Children affected with dyslexia not only have a hard time performing in academics but also have difficulties in other walks of life. Inability to speak quickly and do basic math can hinder social interactions, which leads to frustration in the child. The child may also feel overwhelmed with the world at large, considering the number of letters one has to comprehend in order to get through the day.

How is Dyslexia Treated in Children?

After the dyslexia test for children has confirmed that your child is affected by the condition, the next step is about how it can be treated or managed. The only way to help children with this condition is to teach them individually, by using three-dimensional modelling using clay to help the child learn letters and words. Education specialists and speech therapists can help too.

How to Teach a Child with Dyslexia?

The question as to how to teach a dyslexic child to read has been puzzling parents for a time, and some methods and tips are given below.

  • You have to get the help of professionals and teachers for a more individualised experience for your child.
  • You need to explore how you can improve the reading comprehension of your child.
  • Use software, apps, or similar browser tools to help your child learn well.
  • Use audiobooks available on a range of subjects so that your child is not put off by the reading part of learning.
  • Discover the strengths of your child, and teach the topics keeping those in mind.

Things You Can Do to Help Your Child with Dyslexia

There are many things that you can do as a parent to help your child with dyslexia:

  • Listen to audiobooks and read them along with your child.
  • Ensure that your child reads as much as possible, both quietly and aloud.
  • Read his favourite books aloud, even if it seems boring.
  • Make the process of learning playful, with songs, poems or even dances to help them remember things.
  • Play a lot of word games, which can improve his spellings.
  • For younger children, you can play silly rhyming games and use nursery rhymes, too.
  • Use new learning methods like software and tablets to help your child understand better.
  • Always remain organized, and split all homework into manageable chunks that the child can do on his own.
  • Always celebrate the small success of your child.
  • Do not expect perfection from your child, and believe that he is trying as hard as he can.
  • Tell him that you love him often, and be there for him emotionally. Never let him feel overwhelmed.

Dyslexia is a disorder that cannot be prevented or cured. It affects the day-to-day life of a child in a huge manner. However, parents can help their dyslexic children grow normally, and be a part of society with a little extra support and help.

Also Read: Developmental Delay in Kids