How can you help your child with dyslexia? Many parents contact me desperately looking for help for their child with dyslexia. The child is either already diagnosed or showing signs of dyslexia, yet they are not receiving adequate or even any help from school. The frustration and worry together with the daily effect on family life just gets too much.
First, let’s see what the definition of dyslexia is. According to the British Dyslexia Association,
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed. Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities.
So, how can I help?
One of the main underlying difficulties in Dyslexia is auditory processing – how the brain ‘hears’ and processes what is being said. This connection is often dismissed or mis-understood and so not addressed.
The first task that I ask parents to do is to fill in The Listening Checklist – here and return the completed form to me. The responses give me a much greater understanding of how the child is or is not processing verbal information. This can also be quite an eye-opener to parents who may not be aware of just how poor auditory processing affects so many things in life.
From this, if appropriate I can recommend that the child start The Listening Program, especially if they are under 6 years old. This program will ‘tune up’ the child’s auditory system helping the brain to tune into sounds at the best decibel level reducing sound sensitivities and helping to correct differences between ears so helping children to tune into sounds better in their environment. The direct effect of this is to improve phonological awareness and sound discrimination in noisy environments leading to improvements in speech, language, and literacy skills.
If the child is old enough (6 years +), I then recommend Fast ForWord.
Within this programme, there are exercises targeting phonological awareness, verbal memory, verbal processing speed & sequencing. New and lasting neural connections are made in the brain and even just a small increase in processing speed can have positive life changing effects. In addition, the programme works on language conventions, following complex directions and language comprehension. As the modules progress, spelling, punctuation, reading, passage comprehension and much more is covered including advanced skills such as reading and understanding tables and summarising texts.
Finally, I can add in Reading Assistant Plus where a child reads back to the computer which gently corrects pronunciation and builds comprehension. This programme can really increase reading speed, fluency and comprehension. There are many benefits to reading out aloud which I will talk about another time.
There is never just one programme that is going to be the panacea for your child. Targeting the underlying difficulties with appropriate programmes is the key. Follow these up with good teaching in school and huge positive benefits can me made for that child.