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Dyslexia (Children)

What Is Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder characterised by impairments in reading. It commonly manifests difficulties reading, spelling and writing, often accompanied by challenges in language acquisition, phonological processing, working memory, sequencing, organisation, visual perception and motor skills. These difficulties can create a disparity between a child's innate learning potential and their actual academic achievement. The Dyslexia Association of Singapore reports that 4–10% of the global population is affected by dyslexia.

Causes Of Dyslexia

Dyslexia is thought to stem from differences in how the brain processes language-based information. It is not an intellectual disability and many individuals with dyslexia possess average to above-average intelligence. Dyslexia is not caused by poor motivation, emotional disturbance, sensory impairment or lack of opportunities, though it may coexist with any of these conditions.

Signs And Symptoms Of Dyslexia

Challenges in language acquisition, reading, spelling and writing are key indicators of dyslexia. However, spelling letters in the wrong order is just one possible symptom and does not occur in every case. Other common difficulties experienced by children with dyslexia include:

  • Difficulty learning the names of letters or sounds in the alphabet
  • Challenges in identifying and/or discriminating sounds within words
  • Confusion between similar letters such as “b” and “d”, “p” and “q”
  • Misreading words that look alike, such as “on” and “no”, “was” and “saw”, “there” and “three”
  • Poor reading accuracy and fluency
  • Poor reading comprehension
It is important to recognise that not every child struggling with these issues has dyslexia. A diagnosis of dyslexia is typically based on the presence of multiple persistent characteristics that significantly impede learning. Formal testing is the definitive method for diagnosing suspected dyslexia.
Diagnosis And Treatment Options For Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a lifelong condition. Early identification and treatment are key to helping children with dyslexia succeed academically and in life.

Treatment typically involves employing educational techniques to improve reading and writing skills. A multi-sensory approach, involving hearing, seeing and touching simultaneously, is often effective for teaching children with dyslexia.

Formal assessment for dyslexia is recommended after a child reaches six to seven years of age. For younger children showing potential signs of dyslexia, enrolling in reading programmes prior to formal assessment can be beneficial.

Tips For Taking Care Of Children With Dyslexia

Understanding that each child learns differently and at their own pace is vital. Recognising your child's strengths, weaknesses, learning rate and interests is key to helping them overcome or cope with their difficulties.

Here are some strategies to aid in developing reading skills and boosting self-esteem in children with dyslexia:

Be a good reading role model
Demonstrate the importance of reading in everyday life. Provide books, magazines and other reading materials that align with your child's interests.

Employ a multi-sensory teaching approach
Use techniques that involve multiple senses to enhance learning.

Focus on phonemes (i.e. sounds associated with letters in the alphabet)
Engage in rhyming games, songs emphasising rhymes and alliteration and word games. Sound out letters and highlight similarities in words.

Work on spelling
Introduce new words, play spelling games and encourage writing.

Create a supportive learning environment
Emphasis effort over achievement. Work with your child to set realistic goals in reading and writing, and provide the necessary support to achieve them.

Share the joy of reading
Daily reading with your child can positively impact their basic reading skills. Choose books that are enjoyable for both of you, take turns reading, and engage in discussions about the content. Point to words as you read and revisit troublesome words to reinforce learning.

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