Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty and a lifelong condition which is present in approximately 5-10 % of the population (Al-Shidhani & Arora, 2012). The DSM – V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) defines dyslexia as a neurodevelopmental disorder which affects one’s use of academic skills such as reading and writing, and makes it more challenging for a person to learn as quickly and efficiently as others (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
Signs of dyslexia may start appearing in the early developing years of the child, especially once the child starts school. The requirements of academic education will make these symptoms more evident as the student is required to read, write and keep up with academic studies. Children with dyslexia may have average or above average intelligence, however symptoms of dyslexia may start to develop that impede with their learning (Al-Shidhani & Arora, 2012).
As a parent, learning that your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia might come as a shock, and you might be thinking of what this means for the future of your child. Symptoms of dyslexia are various, such as confusing letters in words, being slow to read and write, writing letters backwards and having spelling that is poor and messy. Dyslexic children find it hard to understand written information, and they may struggle with organisation and planning and as a result, be disorganized in their work (“Dyslexia”, 2019).
Usually, children with dyslexia show strengths in other areas, such as having very good visualisation skills, problem solving skills, and excelling in creativity (“9 Strengths of Dyslexia – Nessy UK”, 2019).
So what can you do as a parent to support your dyslexic child? Here are a few ways you can help your child cope with this learning difficulty:
1. Acceptance: Accepting the fact that your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia is the first step in being able to be fully supportive. As a parent, it is important to be as well-informed about the condition as possible, and to seek help by speaking to professionals.
2. Be aware of signs of emotional distress: A dyslexic child may become frustrated and angry when they see that they are struggling. They may also struggle with low self-esteem. Help the child understand that they are able to succeed, even if it might not always be in the same way as their friends. This is done by finding their strengths, and using their strengths to help them learn.
3. Praise and support: When your child succeeds, offer praise and acknowledge their success. This helps to boost their self-esteem and their confidence, and helps them realise that they can succeed in what they want to achieve and be supported throughout.
4. Do not compare: Do not compare a dyslexic child to their non-dyslexic siblings or peers. Such criticism will result in frustration and feelings of unworthiness.
5. Control your anger: Don’t get angry if your child is being unorganised or forgetful. Instead, help them find ways to become more organised.
6. Communicate with the teacher: Keep the communication going with your child’s teacher at school. This will help you monitor their academic improvement, and know which subjects or areas are proving to be the most difficult. Together, you can also work on new strategies that may help the child learn more efficiently.
Al-Shidhani, T., & Arora, V. (2012). Understanding Dyslexia in Children Through Human Development Theories. Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, 12(3), 286-294. doi: 10.12816/0003141
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596
Dyslexia. (2019). Retrieved 24 October 2019, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dyslexia/
9 Strengths of Dyslexia – Nessy UK. (2019). Retrieved 24 October 2019, from https://www.nessy.com/uk/parents/dyslexia-information/9-strengths-dyslexia/