Parents of dyslexic children face a variety of challenges. On the one hand there may be a reluctance to label your child as having a specific learning disability and you might be worried about the prospect of causing anger, resentment and possibly bullying. Plus, along the same lines, there's a pride issue on your part that you could be partly responsible for your child's dyslexia and thus feel ashamed.
On the other hand, however, you’ll also appreciate the importance of giving your child the best chances of educational success if they have been or are likely to be diagnosed with dyslexia.
When Was Dyslexia First Recognised As A Learning Disability?
Early describers of dyslexia, in the late 1800s, used the term ‘word blindness’, suggesting that reading difficulties were caused by problems in visual perception. Only as recently as the 1970s has language processing been recognised.
The History of Dyslexia
It wasn't until 1962, that the actual term 'dyslexia' was mentioned in the UK Parliament then, in 1970, a British neurologist named Macdonald Critchley published a book named 'The Dyslexic Child'.
In the years to come, many organisations were set up in reference to the learning difficulty, with the British Dyslexia Association being founded in London in 1972. Furthermore, many specialists started to examine the filed and publish their findings and, at last, in 1987, Dyslexia was first formally recognised in a parliamentary debate. Since then, a number of bodies and institutes have been formed to support and provide research for those suffering from dyslexia, including a move to make the disability recognised in the workplace which came into force in 2010.
Thankfully, there has been a considerable amount of further research into the issues associated with dyslexia, a condition which is believed to affect around 10 per cent of the current UK population.
Highly effective strategies and techniques have been developed in the aim of minimising its impact, so if you have a child who is showing signs of dyslexia then you can rest assured that they and you are not alone and that there is so much information and support out there for parents, with more being found and documented all the time thanks to rigorous studies and research.
How To Recognise Dyslexia
As a parent, the idea of your child suffering from sort of learning disability may have been on your mind, or you may be keen to know the signs to look out for as your child grows and develops. Below are just some of the characteristics and behaviours of a dyslexic child to look out for.
Parents should actively be looking out for signs of slow development, which is something that our NHS are great at monitoring too.
From the moment your child is born, you are given milestones to look out for and advice provided should your baby not meet these in due course. However, not all learning difficulties can be identified so easily, and it may just need a parent's intuitive eye to spot any minor lapses in cognitive development.
Dyslexia is best identified and diagnosed at the earliest opportunity to reduce feelings of embarrassment and concern and to seek specialist help. There’s a relatively high chance of dyslexia being genetically passed through generations, so if you or your partner have the learning disability then it's definitely something to be aware of. However, all parents and educational practitioners are encouraged to look out for tell-tale characteristics.
By far the most common manifestation of dyslexia is difficulty in learning to read or spell, therefore if it isn't caught early on then it is sure to be noticed in your child's early years of education.
Dyslexics find it particularly hard to deal with the sounds of words, making it especially difficult to use phonics to read words. Children with common forms of dyslexia also find it hard to remember shapes. Other possible signs – but by no means in all dyslexics – include poor organisation, difficulty with everyday routines and feelings of disorientation.
All or some of these may become apparent as your child starts primary school.
On the upside, dyslexia is not related to general intelligence and sufferers often have great strengths in reasoning and in visual and creative fields.
Possible anger and resentment
Children who aren’t given appropriate assistance face the risk of being humiliated during lessons. Some teachers may be oblivious to the issue of dyslexia and attribute poor educational performance to laziness or low levels of intelligence (but, I stress, dyslexia is unrelated to IQ).
Children may become increasingly angry and disengaged as they struggle to make the same level of progress as peers of a seemingly higher ability.
How Common Is Dyslexia?
It’s important to remember that your child isn’t alone in their attempt to overcome dyslexia.
Remember that one in ten suffers from it.
Famous figures such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Richard Branson and Noel Gallagher have enjoyed immense success in spite of dyslexia. Their stories may provide your child with inspiration and motivation.
People with this condition often have exceptional levels of creativity and intuition.
There is absolutely no reason why dyslexia should prevent your child from attaining outstanding school grades provided the appropriate assistance is given. It might be worth considering the option of sending your child to a school with specialist provision for dyslexia.
Teachers with a comprehensive understanding of this condition will use a variety of multi-sensory tools to aid the children’s learning. They may encourage children to spell out words on fuzzy boards and play games to improve the levels of engagement.
Homeschoolers can also address dyslexia, for more information check out our recent article on this topic.
Resources On Dyslexia
If you are keen to read up on Dyslexia, including some more educational documents to help your understanding, then find below some resources that will help you to better help your child.
Books on Dyslexia
There is a wide variety of helpful books which can greatly enhance your understanding of the condition and help you to continue specialist help at home and more generally away from the school environment.
- Overcoming Dyslexia by: Sally Shaywitz
- The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain by: Brock L. Eide
- The Gift of Dyslexia by: Ronald David
- The Dyslexia Checklist by: Sandra F. Rief
Furthermore, there are many websites and local groups or bodies that you may find useful, or that may provide you with the support you need.
Dyslexia Action Learning Centres
Dyslexia Action Learning Centres are a marvellous resource and well worth contacting – there are around 30 in the UK, mostly in England but there’s also one in Cardiff and one in Glasgow.
The NHS is also a good source of information and advice, and you can find pages of facts and information on their website.
Local Support Groups
Local Support Groups set up for children with learning disabilities are a great place to go to meet likeminded families and children with similar struggles. Knowing that there are other children with the same difficulties in class might be a great relief for children who are affected by this condition.
However, if you still have worries or concerns about your child's future and how dyslexia may impact their ability to find professional success, then please note that, legally, educational and workplace settings are duty-bound to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure dyslexics are not disadvantaged when compared with their peers. Many schools have specialist support for dyslexics from age four to 18; grants may be available to higher education students to access dedicated resources.
And, as we already know, dyslexia is recognised in the workplace so this needn't hold your child back from achieving their dreams.
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