There's no known way to correct the underlying brain abnormality that causes dyslexia — dyslexia is a lifelong problem. However, early detection and evaluation to determine specific needs and appropriate treatment can improve success.
Dyslexia is treated using specific educational approaches and techniques, and the sooner the intervention begins, the better. Psychological testing will help your child's teachers develop a suitable teaching program.
Teachers may use techniques involving hearing, vision and touch to improve reading skills. Helping a child use several senses to learn — for example, listening to a taped lesson and tracing with a finger the shape of the letters used and the words spoken — can help him or her process the information.
If available, tutoring sessions with a reading specialist can be very helpful for many children with dyslexia. A reading specialist will focus on helping your child:
- Learn to recognize the smallest sounds that make up words (phonemes)
- Understand that letters and strings of letters represent these sounds
- Comprehend what he or she is reading
- Read aloud
- Build a vocabulary
If your child has a severe reading disability, tutoring may need to occur more frequently, and progress may be slower.
Individual education plan
In the United States, schools have a legal obligation to take steps to help children diagnosed with dyslexia with their learning problems. Talk to your child's teacher about setting up a meeting to create a plan that outlines your child's needs and how the school will help him or her succeed. This is called an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). To receive help, your child may need a structured, written plan.
Children with dyslexia who get extra help in kindergarten or first grade often improve their reading skills enough to succeed in elementary school and high school.
Children who don't get help until later grades may have more difficulty learning the skills needed to read well. They're likely to lag behind academically and may never be able to catch up. A child with severe dyslexia may never have an easy time reading, but he or she can learn skills that improve reading.
Academic problems don't necessarily mean a person with dyslexia can't succeed. Students with dyslexia can be highly capable, given the right resources. Many people with dyslexia are creative and bright, and may be gifted in math, science or the arts. Some even have successful writing careers.
What parents can do
You play a key role in helping your child succeed. Take these steps:
- Address the problem early. If you suspect your child has dyslexia, talk to your child's doctor. Early intervention can improve success.
- Read aloud to your child. It's best if you start when your child is 6 months old or even younger. Try listening to recorded books with your child. When your child is old enough, read the stories together after your child hears them.
- Work with your child's school. Talk to your child's teacher about how the school will help him or her succeed. You are your child's best advocate.
- Encourage reading time. To improve reading skills, a child must practice reading. Encourage reading of print materials.
- Set an example for reading. Designate a time each day to read something of your own while your child reads — this sets an example and supports your child. Show your child that reading can provide enjoyment.
What adults with dyslexia can do
Success in employment can be difficult for adults struggling with dyslexia. To help achieve your goals:
Aug. 08, 2014
- Seek evaluation and instructional help with reading and writing, regardless of your age
- Ask about additional training and reasonable accommodations from your employer or academic institution under the Americans with Disabilities Act
- NINDS dyslexia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/dyslexia/dyslexia.htm. Accessed June 5, 2014.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Joint statement — Learning disabilities, dyslexia, and vision. Pediatrics. 2009;124:837.
- Language-based learning disabilities. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/LBLD.htm. Accessed June 5, 2014.
- Information and resources for adolescents and adults with dyslexia — It's never too late. International Dyslexia Association. http://www.interdys.org/FactSheets.htm. Accessed June 5, 2014.
- What are the signs of dyslexia? International Dyslexia Association. http://www.interdys.org/SignsofDyslexiaCombined.htm. Accessed June 5, 2014.
- Dyslexia basics. International Dyslexia Association. http://www.interdys.org/FactSheets.htm. Accessed June 5, 2014.
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) and dyslexia. International Dyslexia Association. http://www.interdys.org/FactSheets.htm. Accessed June 5, 2014.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 23, 2014.
- Tervo RC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 27, 2014.
- Handler SM, et al. Learning disabilities, dyslexia and vision. Pediatrics. 2011;127:e818.
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