Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

There's no known way to correct the underlying brain abnormality that causes dyslexia.

Dyslexia is not generally treated with drugs. However, if your child has another condition that occurs along with dyslexia, such attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), he or she may be prescribed medications.

Dyslexia is treated through education, and the sooner 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, by 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.

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. A child with severe dyslexia may never be able to read well. However, academic problems don't necessarily mean a person with dyslexia will be unable to 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 mathematics, science or the arts. Some even have successful writing careers.

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. 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.
  • 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 in written form together after your child hears them.
  • Work with your child's school. Create a written, individualized education plan. In the United States, schools have a legal obligation to take steps to help children diagnosed with dyslexia learn. Talk to your child's teacher about setting up a meeting to create a plan that outlines your child's particular needs and how the school will help him or her succeed. If available, tutoring sessions with a reading specialist can be very helpful for many children with dyslexia. Your child may not get needed help without a structured, written plan.
Aug. 23, 2011

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