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  • Writer's pictureTy Bailey

What is Dyslexia?

Is your child struggling with letters, words, or reading? Are you having difficulties with these same issues as an adult? Here's what you need to know about dyslexia.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability (or learning disorder) that results in a person experiencing trouble with reading and spelling due to struggling with word recognition and an impaired ability to decipher words when reading. When a person's brain has trouble matching letters to their sounds, this can make reading and piecing together words, sentences, and paragraphs difficult, leading to a wide range of challenges for those who have dyslexia.

How Common is Dyslexia?

Most people have heard of dyslexia due to its prevalence, affecting about 15% of the U.S. population and making up nearly 80-90% of the learning disabilities that are diagnosed in general. It is more commonly diagnosed and recognized by comparison to some of the other learning disorders, such as dyscalculia and dysgraphia.

How Do You Know If Someone Has Dyslexia?

It's easiest to determine if a child has dyslexia when they enter school and begin working on reading and spelling, especially when there are often staff members that are familiar with the condition, too. These individuals are essential in recognizing the signs early and providing your child with the best possible support in the classroom.

For those with very young children, there are a few cues you may notice in preschool-aged children that may indicate a potential for dyslexia:

  • disinterest or difficulty with learning their letters

  • difficulties with sentence structure when communicating

  • difficulty remembering the correct words for things

  • inability to properly pronounce words that are longer

  • mixing up letters and sounds when speaking

  • struggling with spoken language and expressing themselves

Once a child reaches around 5 to 12 years old, there are far more indicators that they may have dyslexia:

  • difficulties with writing speed and handwriting quality

  • mixing up the order of the letters in words

  • mixing up letters that look similar

  • taking significantly longer than average to complete written work

  • the ability to answer questions orally without any trouble but struggling when writing answers down

  • trouble with carrying out directions

  • trouble remembering sequences (e.g., alphabetical order, days of the week, etc.)

  • significant difficulty with phonics

  • slow reading speed

  • verbal errors when reading aloud

Teenagers may experience additional difficulties in their home, school, or work lives, as dyslexia may cause them to struggle with:

  • expressing themselves in written work

  • meeting deadlines

  • remembering phone numbers or PINs

  • taking notes in class

  • spelling

  • writing or even planning any essays or reports due for school

As children reach their teen years or adulthood and continue to struggle with dyslexia, they are also likely to try avoiding writing and reading as much as possible, especially without the proper support and tools to help them manage the condition.

Adults with dyslexia are more likely to have the following symptoms indicative of dyslexia:

  • concentration difficulties

  • difficulty skimming text

  • difficulty with prioritizing tasks

  • erratic spelling

  • experiencing varying difficulty amongst tasks

  • forgetfulness (appointments, dates, conversations, etc.)

  • inability to properly organize one's thoughts on paper

  • intentionally avoiding certain tasks

  • issues with determining left and right

  • issues with time management

  • trouble focusing and listening

  • poor organization skills

  • poor self-esteem

  • read slowly

  • write slowly

Is There Treatment for Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is not a disorder or disability that can be "cured." However, there are a number of available resources to help those who are diagnosed with it function well in school, work, and their personal lives.

School-aged children may receive phonics instruction from a specialist in some cases. More commonly, most schools also provide assistance in the form of IEPs and 504 Plans. These will allow your child to receive a specialized learning program to accommodate their dyslexia and allow them to still learn and participate in the classroom setting.

Dyslexia is not a condition that is treatable with the use of medications, but some children may benefit from using medication(s) and/or therapy to address any comorbid conditions that may exacerbate their dyslexia.

There are also accommodations that may be made in the workplace, as well as therapy and training opportunities, to assist adults struggling with dyslexia.

Additional Resources

At Tired Mama Resources, we're here to help provide as much information as possible to parents and caregivers that have questions about their child's health and wellbeing. However, although we try our best to cite credible sources for the information provided, the information on our website should not be substituted for seeking medical care or treatment for a child experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition or learning disorder nor doing so for yourself or another adult.

If you suspect that your child may have dyslexia, please speak with your child's pediatrician for further guidance.

If you are currently experiencing symptoms of dyslexia in your day-to-day life as an adult, please consult with your primary physician regarding the next steps in receiving testing and a formal diagnosis.

For more information:

The Dyslexia Foundation

Debunking the Common Myths About Dyslexia

International Dyslexia Foundation

KidsHealth/TeensHealth: Understanding Dyslexia

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