The first step in helping children with dyslexia is to understand that dyslexia is simply a learning difficulty, and shouldn’t be considered a cognitive deficit. It’s not an intellectual problem at all. It’s usually detected around 6 years of age, when children begin to learn to read.
Does it bring difficulties? Yes, but they’re all surmountable. We shouldn’t worry if our child has been diagnosed with dyslexia. According to psychiatrists, this doesn’t affect his intellectual potential; he’ll just need some help in certain areas.
Children with dyslexia have difficulty reading clearly. This often translates into difficulties with reading comprehension, and, in turn, learning how to write (and especially how to spell).
Sometimes they also have difficulties understanding mathematical operations, but all this can be overcome with patience and effort.
How can I know if my child has dyslexia?
First of all, neither parents nor teachers are sufficiently trained to confirm if a child has dyslexia. If we suspect that our child may be suffering from it, the best we can do is go to a qualified expert in this area, such as a speech therapist.
Specialists will carry out a series of tests on the child, which they will look at and study in detail in order to be able to give an accurate diagnosis, as well as the different guidelines to be followed thereafter.
Does dyslexia have a cure?
Dyslexia has no cure, but it’s possible to reduce the difficulties if there is constant and adequate support, adhering to the instructions given by the specialist.
There are several support programs and each one has been designed according to the needs of each individual. For this reason, it’s not possible to explain which type of program will be chosen for your child. It will depend on his abilities and what the specialist has diagnosed.
What we can assure you is that, in school, once you’ve met with the teaching and counseling team, they’ll provide personalized help for your child.
They’ll also be able to guide you when it comes to finding after-school support groups and complementary activities that can help your child.
How to help children with dyslexia?
The first thing you should do if you suspect that your child is suffering from dyslexia of some kind is to contact a specialist immediately.
If the problem is diagnosed at an early age, then there is a greater guarantee of the effectiveness of its treatment. Being aware, informed and willing to adapt and go on is the best way to help your child.
There are many activities that we can do at home with our children that will help them improve. Here are some ideas:
Nowadays everyone has a cell phone. There are many applications that can provide useful tools and strategies. In fact, we can download several different games that combine reading with other beneficial aspects in order to entertain and help our children at the same time.
The main thing is to help dyslexic children with their reading difficulty, since, for them, it’s quite a difficult task at the beginning.
In the apps available on our smartphones we can find a host of ideas that can be very useful. It’s just a matter of taking advantage of them to obtain the benefits we desire.
Semi-educational apps are especially recommended, and the most popular in this area are:
Also for children with dyslexia, specialists recommend apps that consist of solving word searches, and building and ordering sentences. In addition, we can use repetition programs to help children who have trouble speaking correctly.
This activity will convert treatment and study into games. It has been proven that children learn more by playing than by any other activity, and so these will be great for them.
We can play or invent a multitude of multi-sensory games, and here are some ideas:
This consists of having to try and guess a word. One player will mark out how many letters it contains and the other person will say letters one at a time to try and guess the word. Whenever they say a letter that isn’t contained in the word, then the first player will start drawing a stick figure hanging from a noose.
The guesser wins if he manages to guess the word correctly without the other player having completed the picture of the “hangman.” This game helps the child to relate letters with their sounds.
2. Guess the made-up word
In this game we have to make out a list of similar words, one of which doesn’t exist. The child has to try and guess which is the made-up word. To make it more fun, we can ask the child to invent a meaning for the made-up word.
3. Word search
We place letters on a grid, some of which form words, and others which are random. We say the words one by one and the child has to try and find them in the grid. This game can be quite complicated for a dyslexic child and so it’s a good idea to help him as if you were a team.
4. I spy with my little eye
One player tells the other the first letter of some object that he can see at that moment. The other player has to try to guess the word.
5. Word Chain
This consists of saying one word after another, with the only condition being that the first syllable or letter of the word has to be the same as the last syllable or letter of the previous word.
6. Follow the story
This game is great fun and will really make kids laugh. The idea is to tell a story word by word. That is, each person will say a word and whoever is sitting next to them will follow the story with another word and so on.
7. Right-left games
Some children with dyslexia have difficulty telling their left from their right. We can help their learning with games that deal with both.
The most common one is the popular Twister game. In this game you spin a wheel and have to place one part of your body on the color that it indicates.
This game, in addition to using the parts of the body, also works with colors and shapes, which makes it especially useful.
Another option is to invent a dance and to say out loud the movements that we need to perform. For example: Right foot forward and left hand on your head.
Dyslexia is a genuine difficulty, but it doesn’t interfere with normal cognitive development. It’s frequently associated with difficulties in being able to write correctly (disortography).
It doesn’t have to be something traumatic in our lives (or in the lives of the children who suffer from it). As long as we decide to be proactive and maintain a good attitude towards the challenges then we should be able to cope with it quite well.
Remember that in addition to helping children with their different activities, we must also be there to support them. We should be there for them, to give them affection, strength and courage when they need it most.