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Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder with impairment in reading. It is often characterised by difficulties in one or more areas of reading, spelling and writing. Some of the accompanying weaknesses may include difficulties in language acquisition, phonological processing, working memory, sequencing and organisation, visual perception and motor skills. These difficulties could lead to a gap between a child’s potential for learning and his or her academic achievement.
According to the Dyslexia Association of Singapore, 4 to 10% of the world’s population has dyslexia.
The exact causes of dyslexia are not completely clear but it is commonly explained as a difference in the way the brain processes language-based information.
Dyslexia is not an intellectual disability and many individuals with dyslexia have average to above average intelligence. It is also not the result of poor motivation, emotional disturbance, sensory impairment or lack of opportunities but it may occur alongside any of these.
Difficulties in acquiring and using language, reading, spelling and writing letters in the wrong order is just one manifestation of dyslexia and does not occur in all cases. Examples of other problems experienced by children with dyslexia include:
It is important to note that not all children who have difficulties with the above weaknesses have dyslexia. A child with dyslexia usually has several of these characteristics which persist over time and interfere with learning. Formal testing is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of suspected dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a lifelong condition. Early identification and treatment are key to helping children with dyslexia achieve success in school and in life.
Treatment for dyslexia consists of using educational tools to enhance the ability to read and/or write. Children with dyslexia can be taught by a method that involves several senses (hearing, seeing and touching) at the same time or what we call a multi-sensory approach.
Formal dyslexia assessment can be done after a child is 6 to 7 years old. Younger children who appear to be at risk for dyslexia can be enrolled in reading programmes before a formal assessment is done.
It is important to remember that all children learn differently and at different rates. You will need to understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses, rate of learning and interests in order to help your child be successful in overcoming or coping with his or her difficulties.
The following are some ways that you can help your child with dyslexia develop reading skills and boost self-esteem.