Though dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities (one in five people are thought to have it!)parents often miss the signs and symptoms when it comes to their own child. Prevailing misconceptions about what dyslexia is and how it presents in children can also get in the way of students’ ability to receive the proper learning tools crucial to their academic success. Luckily, with early diagnosis and scientifically-backed interventions, children with dyslexia can perform just as well as their peers. As the founders of Marker Learning, we can attest to that. We both were lucky enough to have parents that provided us with early evaluations and treatment, and both went on to graduate business school and become entrepreneurs.
The following facts–from the biggest myths about the disorder, to the best ways to approach treatment–are things every single parent should know, whether or not their child has dyslexia.
Dyslexia affects 20% of the population.
By far one of the most common learning disabilities, everyone knows someone who has dyslexia. So what exactly is it? Dyslexia is actually the name for a group of disorders involving the struggle to interpret symbols such as letters and numbers, which makes learning language and reading more difficult. However, with the right support a child diagnosed with the condition can incorporate learning strategies and implement tools that will have them reading and writing just as proficiently as their peers.
It’s not a vision problem.
There’s a misconception that dyslexia is related to poor vision, or that it causes those afflicted to mix up or jumble the order of letters when they try to read, but this simply isn’t the case. They do not “read backward” or upside-down as many believe. The reality is a lot more complex, as children with dyslexia actually struggle with language and connecting sounds to symbols, making reading, writing, and spelling more of a challenge.
It has nothing to do with intelligence.
This is one of the most prevalent myths, and also one of the most harmful. Children diagnosed with dyslexia are in no way less intelligent than children who do not have it. The disorder affects people of all backgrounds and IQs. If anything there is evidence that the opposite might be true, Research shows that people with dyslexia are especially creative and innovative. And people with dyslexia are in great company–some of the greatest minds in history are believed to have had dyslexia, such as Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Leonardo Da Vinci, to name a few.
Signs and symptoms can vary.
There’s a wide range of severity when it comes to dyslexia, as dyslexia is actually a term to describe a cluster of symptoms that may vary from person to person. This can make it more difficult to catch or diagnose, as it can present differently in different people. Some of the most common signs to watch for include:
- Trouble decoding words (difficulty matching letters to sounds
- Difficulty with phonemic awareness (difficulty recognizing sounds in words)
- Incorrect spelling
- Struggling with grammar
- Problems with reading comprehension and/or fluency
- Trouble with sentence structure
- Avoiding reading (either to oneself or out loud)
- Difficulty learning a foreign language
- Constant stress
Dyslexia is treatable.
Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that does not go away with age or other changes, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be effectively managed to the point where it no longer interferes with the individual’s daily life. The key to preventing academic problems that can impact the course of a student’s education is early identification.
When dyslexia is diagnosed early on, the right tools can be implemented to help a child excel at reading and writing. Teachers, tutors, and therapists who are trained to use a multisensory, structured language approach are an invaluable support system to a child with dyslexia. Because every case of the disorder is different, just as every child has different needs, one-on-one help is crucial to a successful outcome.
One such approach, called the Orton-Gillingham approach, is an excellent method used to treat those with dyslexia. The teaching approach was specifically designed to help students with dyslexia focus on making connections between letters and sounds, and elements of Orton-Gillingham have already been incorporated into many early reading programs. Marker offers Orton-Gillgham tutoring online, so students can get this critical 1:1 support from the convenience of home.
Structured practice is key.
When working with students who have dyslexia, structured practice is essential to improving their ability to read, write, and perform well in math. By getting immediate corrective feedback from a professional trained in the right techniques, children are able to develop the necessary automatic word recognition skills to improve their reading comprehension and overall learning skills.
Classroom accommodations are crucial.
It’s important to note that classroom accommodations are not meant to give anyone an unfair advantage. Instead, the point is to ensure equal access to the academic experience for all students. Rather than giving some students a leg up, it actually levels the playing field for those who struggle with reading comprehension and other challenges associated with dyslexia. Because those with the disorder may require more time to read, write, and process language, accommodations are critical to their success. Popular accommodations and modifications for children with dyslexia include, but are not limited to:
- Extended test time
- Larger print
- Incorporation of audiobooks
- Allowing a child to use text-to-speech software
- Giving a student multiple opportunities to read the same text
- Using reading buddies
Armed with better knowledge, parents are empowered to alter the course of their children’s education for the better. Knowing that dyslexia is not only treatable, but that it is incredibly common and not a sign of lack of intelligence can make parents and children alike feel less alone and more prepared to seek out resources that will lead to their academic success. When parents are well educated about the signs and symptoms of dyslexia and can identify it before it becomes a serious problem, they can start employing the many tools at their disposal to ensure their children thrive in any rigorous academic environment. We created Marker Learning (https://markerlearning.com) to help with speedy, cost-effective evaluations that are accessible to everyone.
By Stefan Bauer and Emily Yudofsky
ABOUT MARKER LEARNING:
Marker Learning was created to fix the currently broken system, where children are put on years-long waitlists for a learning disability evaluation, and families and schools are often being charged over $10,000 for an assessment.
Their mission is to provide best-in-class evaluations to the millions of students who currently do not have access to them. Marker Learning strives to inspire and support students with all types of learning needs, so they can achieve their full potential.
To ensure they could provide a high-quality service, the co-founders spent time learning from experts in the field, including psychologists from Johns Hopkins and Columbia University to understand how evaluations are administered, and how testing could be translated to a virtual delivery, while maintaining the highest quality bar.
Marker connects students with licensed psychologists across the country who are specially trained to assess for learning and attention disabilities in a virtual environment.
Acacia Academy is a private special education school for students with a variety of unique and special needs. La Grange Campus is home to grades 1-12 and Burr Ridge Campus offers a Transition Program for ages 18-22. Students benefit from personalized programs designed to meet individual needs. A Natural Habitat and three-acre school Nature Center provides students with a unique outdoor experience and summer program. AdvancED/Cognia accredited and approved by the Illinois State Board of Education for out-of-district placement. Kathryn Fouks, Principal. La Grange Campus: 6425 Willow Springs Road, LaGrange, IL 60525 (708) 579-9040. Burr Ridge Campus: 6880 N Frontage Rd, Suite 100, Burr Ridge, IL 60527 (708) 639-4222. email@example.com. www.AcaciaAcademy.com
Cyril and Methodius School
Cyril and Methodius School provides an excellent Catholic education from Pre-K through 8th grade in a compassionate environment that strives to develop each student spiritually, academically, physically, and emotionally. In 2019, SSCM was awarded a National Blue Ribbon, which is a trademark of excellence in education. This prestigious recognition is only awarded to 50 non-public schools throughout the nation. Our Philosophy is to guide each child to realize their unique talents and fulfill his/her potential. Our goal is to enrich and develop each student through Catholic Faith by promoting self-esteem, discipline, common sense, and courtesy in a positive, healthy, respectful and safe environment. Address: 607 Sobieski St, Lemont, IL 60439. (630) 257-6488. school.stcyril.org