Things Dyslexic Children Struggle With
Knowing things dyslexic children struggle with can help you to better thrive with dyslexia. Living with dyslexia doesn’t mean that you will never read confidently.
In fact, by understanding dyslexia, you will find that there are ways to thrive with dyslexia. You might even be surprised by the number of famous people with dyslexia.
Check out these things children with dyslexia struggle with.
Common struggles with Dyslexia
Dyslexic Children Struggle with Rote Memorization
Rote memorization is a huge struggle for children with dyslexia. You can read more about this in an article on Bright Solutions.
For my daughter, a lot of rote memory came into play with fact memorization and sight words. We had to do some different things to make rote memorization easier for her. Here are a few things we tried.
- Use songs in learning. When teaching rote memory concepts it can help to find audio recordings and songs.
For a child with dyslexia, this takes the focus off of reading and puts it on learning the material in a fun way.
- Get moving. Children with dyslexia are more likely to be kinetic learners. Having an active movement or kinesthetic approach to learning can make a world of difference in retaining information.
- Find creative ways to work through it with them. Each child with dyslexia will learn in their own unique way. Spend some time finding out how your child learns best.
This will involve some trial and error but as you see how they learn best you will find that they retain more information.
- Use a dyslexia font. – There are fonts designed specifically for dyslexia. These are meant to help people with dyslexia to read material.
Switching to a dyslexia font can be a big help. There are a few on the internet you can use.
But you can read!
Many times my child will hear, “but you can read!”Yes, she can. What they don’t see is that it has taken years of hard work to get her to this point.
There is often the misconception that because a child is dyslexic they cannot read at all. Dyslexics are able to read.
It just takes a lot more time and hard work for them to get to a point where they can read well.
- Read what they are interested in. If your child is interested in horses, grab books about horses. If they love legos, grab a book about that.
You are more likely to get a child to read something they are interested in anyway.
- Be consistent. When my daughter was younger we spent the entire summer reading 1 page a day of the Richard Scarry books. At first, she hated it.
However, with practice every single day she learned to read better and by the end of the summer was reading a few pages a day.
It’s ok to take it slow and keep it simple.
- Have a read-aloud time. Sometimes children with dyslexia look like they can read. In reality, they have either memorized the book or the word.
For situations like this, it helps to do read-aloud time with your child. It will help you to see where there are learning gaps.
Do not have them read aloud a lot. This could really frustrate a child with dyslexia. Instead, start small and be consistent.
- Don’t underestimate the value of graphic novels. – Graphic novels are a great way to encourage children with dyslexia to read.
The visual cues in graphic novels can help them to stay engaged with the reading. The lack of large blocks of text can also be reassuring.
Children with Dyslexia Struggle with Skipping Words When Reading
One of the things that used to drive me crazy is when my daughter would skip words completely when reading. It was like she didn’t see some of the helper words that were part of the sentence.
Then she would get frustrated when the sentence didn’t make sense to her later on. This is because she was trying hard to see everything and getting overwhelmed.
- Use a pointer. Either let your child use their finger or use a pointing stick to make them touch each word as they read.
This simple step will cause them to slow down and actually see each word instead of moving on.
- Cover words. You can also cover the parts of the sentence your child isn’t reading yet so they have to work on one word at a time.
This will help to reinforce the words while teaching your child to read in order.
- Correct where you need to. I know many parents who will let their dyslexic child make a mistake because of their dyslexia. Don’t.
Your child will only learn it the wrong way if you let them. Slow down and have your child find the missing word.
- Ask comprehension questions. Did leaving out a certain word change the flow of the reading?
Did it change the meaning of the sentence? Show your child that. There is a kind way to do it though.
Make sure that you are asking if a sentence makes sense or if they should go back and read it again to make sure. Eventually, your child will start to pick up these problems on their own and correct the mistake.
Dyslexic Children Struggle with Getting Easily Overwhelmed
When my daughter was younger she would see books with a lot of small words and no pictures and she would shut down.
Even though she was completely able to read it, it looked hard and she was scared. For a child with dyslexia, a huge page of words can seem like an impossible task.
Most children will shut down at the sight of a page full of words.
- Cover everything but the sentence you are on. We like to use a sheet of paper and cover everything we aren’t reading at that moment.
This simplifies the reading and helps your child to focus on the task at hand.
- Large Print Books or a Kindle Large print books put fewer words on the page. This can relieve some of the stress.
You can also use a reader like the Kindle where you can make the font larger. Seeing fewer words on the page can make it easier.
- Give breaks as a reward, not as a cop-out. It can be easy for both of you to get overwhelmed when working on a new concept. Sometimes a break from the work can make a great reward.
Instead of letting your child stop because they are overwhelmed, set a goal and let the break be the reward when it is achieved.
For example: Read the next two sentences and you can have a five-minute break to cool down.
Dyslexic Children Struggle with Guessing Words
This one used to drive me crazy! Whenever R didn’t know a word, she wouldn’t sound it out. Instead, she would just guess the word.
It didn’t matter if it was completely different from what the word was and didn’t fit the sentence she would just plug it in and keep trucking along. This habit can be very bad if it is not corrected.
- Correct, correct, correct. Don’t let your child slide on word guessing. Have them read aloud to you and make sure they are saying each word correctly.
If they do not, ask them if that word makes sense there. Instead of pointing out the problem, see if they can see the error.
- Sound it out. Make them sound it out. Even if the word is one they have read a hundred times, having them sound it out will make them practice learning the word and learning how to handle a word they have never encountered.
It will also help you to see if there are any learning gaps with certain phonemes.
Dyslexic Children Struggle with Separating out Background Noise
Dyslexic children can have problems filtering out background noise. My daughter really struggled with this because she has a loud little brother who loves to play.
It would drive her crazy and she would shut down telling me that she couldn’t possibly work with “all the noise.”
- Find a quiet environment. For R this meant taking her schoolwork to her room. She was able to work alone where it was quiet without me constantly shushing her brother.
- Find a noise alternative. My daughter uses a Kindle Fire kids on the IheartRadio channel with headphones. Her music is acceptable background noise for her and she is more willing to work with it in the background.
Find the option that will work for your child and you may see an increase in learning.
Dyslexic Children Struggle with Reading Comprehension
When my daughter was younger it was hard for her to remember the sentence she just read. It didn’t matter if she read it ten times.
When she moved on to the new sentence, she was finished with what came before it. This made it very hard to give her the ability to learn independently.
It also left me frustrated because I was investing more time into teaching the material. This was because she spent so much energy trying to read, she wasn’t trying to retain information.
- Find another way to teach it. Does your child need to read the information? It may be better to let them listen to an audiobook.
Leave reading time for reading time and teaching time for teaching time.
- Play to their interests. Your child will be more likely to remember something if it is about something they enjoy.
For R, that means we read a lot about big cats, tornadoes, and princesses. This simple shift in reading helped her to enjoy it and remember better.
What is Dyslexia?
The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as:
“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.
These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.
Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
Is there a dyslexia test to diagnose dyslexia?
There are a variety of ways to get a diagnosis of dyslexia. One of the more common ways to get a diagnosis is with a neuropsychological evaluation focused on dyslexia. This is fantastic because it allows them to test to see if there are other learning difficulties alongside dyslexia.
These tests can be funded by insurance, self-funded, or some schools will cover dyslexia testing.
Looking for more dyslexia information?
Famous People With Dyslexia
Things I wish I knew about Dyslexia
Dyslexia resources for homeschoolers
My dyslexic boy was the worst word guesser out there! He would see a word that he didn’t know and guess literally any other word that started with even a similar sound. I remember once, he was reading something about a clown and he tried to sub in Christmas!
He got it written into his IEP at school that he was allowed to bring an e-reader for reading time. Not only could we make the text bigger, so it seemed less daunting, he wasn’t distracted by things on other pages. He could focus on just the few sentences on the page in front of him, instead of seeing a word that interested him “over there” and then looking at it and reading around it and totally losing his place and his focus.
The biggest help for us has been audio books and text to speech software. Yes, he can read, and he does but he learns so much better and retains so much more if he doesn’t have to struggle through reading to get to the meaning. We homeschool now, so I have a little more freedom, but I just assign his novels according to what I can get on audio book and I put text to speech software on his computer. He just starts it up, and then highlights a paragraph or so at a time and it reads it to him. They have apps for smartphones as well, that let you take pictures of text and it reads it to you, but those are kind of pricey, and not something I think would benefit him.
We love audio books around here. Guessing was always a nightmare and still occasionally causes problems. Thank you so much for sharing. I also love ereaders because of the ability to zoom. It can be a huge help.
Hi – l am a learning specialist in training at the ARK Institute of Learning, Tacoma, WA, and l have been assisted significantly by your description of dyslexia accompanied by how you found ways to help your daughter. Thanks so much! Dianne Frothingham.
My son is 8 and recently identified as dyslexic – we are starting the whole learn to read process again with O-G tutoring and have stopped reading out loud altogether (for now – as the tutoring plan recommended)- I am just happy he loves sitting in bed looking at books – and he loves audio books – so the ‘just read a little bit every night’ plan didn’t work for us – only created a hatred of books – he’s much more relaxed now and I hope he will find joy in reading one day – but if its audio books for his whole life, well I am just grateful we live in this technological age!!
I completely understand that. Dyslexia has so many different levels and what works for one child could be completely wrong for another. We also love audio books as they bring the feeling of the story to life while taking away some of the stress of reading.
Both myself and my daughter are dyslexic – her more so than me.
I want to encourage those of you with children who have dyslexia – They can become useful and talented adults.
We’ve learned to laugh at ourselves – Rout Mushmore, The leaning Tower of Eifle are a couple of my favorite mistakes that always make my family laugh and I enjoy laughing with them.
My daughter does freelance graphic design and she is very talented. She would make a terrible teller at a bank, but she is an exceptional artist. She just took a photo of a wedding band when she was rather bored and waiting for something, put it on a ebook cover and sold it for $60 – well she sold it for more, but that was her part of the sale price.
She is also an avid reader and published author.
Look for their gifts and talents and encourage them. Yes they need to read and do math, but they won’t all grow up to be bank tellers. Our daughter has enough math to do well in life, but not enough to make it a career. I can even balance my check book on a good quiet day.
Three of my five kids are dyslexic. My two oldest boys went to public school through 3rd and 6th grades respectively and fell through the cracks. I got repeated reports about them “acting out” in class, or that they weren’t “working to their potential”. I started homeschooling them and “I” discovered that they were struggling readers. I had read to them their whole lives; they would read Dr. Seuss books themselves with no problems, and could navigate our roadtrips using maps. I was shocked and confused when I found out that they had difficulties. It turns out that they had practically memorized their favorite books over the years that I had read to them. The map reading skills were more of a “picture clue” for them, which wasn’t “reading” as much as it was following a diagram (which came easier for them). When my daughter (who I home schooled from the beginning) started showing similar tendencies of reading struggles, I felt like there was something “I” had done wrong. What were the chances that all of my kids (at that point) were having the same problem? I was on a mission to find out what was wrong and how to fix it. Hundreds of hours of research gave me some clarity, but mostly more confusion. There were so many theories and “remedies”. Ultimately, through lots of trial and error, I adjusted my teaching style to match each child’s learning style. There was a lot of experimentation to make those adjustments. But when I discovered what worked for each of them, I was all in. Each one had different interests and strengths; that became the focus of their lessons…building learning into those interests and strengths. My boys loved Legos, fishing, history (esp. WW1 &WW2 stuff), and geography (apparently from all of our roadtrips). My daughter, who had the most extreme cases of dyslexia, was interested in the guitar from a very young age. She started taking guitar lessons at the age of ten. She struggled to learn how ro read music, but she could visually learn the notes and chords faster than anyone in her class. Eventually, she became so advanced at playing that her teacher said there was nothing more he could teach her. She spent hours looking up guitar tabs online(a type of shorthand for sheet music), or learned to play songs by ear that she heard on the radio. She even created numerous original songs of her own. Incidentally, the better she became on the guitar, the better her reading skills became. I am convinced that there is a definite connection between learning to play music and learning to read.
Today, all three of my dyslexic kids are adults that are functioning well in the world. They are not bankers, or poet laureates; however, they are very smart, and have found efficient ways to adapt their learning differences to succeed in their lives. My two youngest children haven’t had struggles to the same degree as my other three, but they each have their own strengths. My second daughter (4th child) does have some reading issues (despite years of devouring books at the rate of a chapter book in a weekend), but I think those struggles were more of a visual problem (she now wears glasses). My youngest is a speed reader (go figure) with nearly 100% comprehension. He is very interested in and knowledgeable, on many topics( especially history, politics and current events). I’ve always felt like he was an old soul wise beyond his years. Our homeschooling journey has been just that…a journey.
Thank you for this it was a great read!
I love these tips! Thank you so much for sharing your journey.
At 8 years old I was diagnosed dyslexic myslef. I remember very clearly how painfully self-conscious I was as a child. The woman who diagnosed me said it was pretty normal for dyslexics to be highly self-aware. This added to my issues in school when I was put on the spot to read outloud in class. I was so choked up by having an audience I literally couldn’t think, let alone read. Sometimes the anxiety would cause me to lash out verbally. Additionally, since all of this was so very confusing to me, I often day dreamed in class which falsely made my teacher believe I had an attention deficit disorder. Try sitting through a lecture spoken entirely in a foreign language. This is how disconnected I often felt from the class subject – of course I daydreamed!
In my experience schools are ill-equipt to really help most dyslexic students. They can offer IEP’s and such but many students like myself do worse when singled out for special treatment and yet keeping pace in regular classes is such an agonzing internal struggle. Without the intense support of my parents I would have been like scores of other dyslexic students and simply given up, believing myself stupid or undisciplined. It is so important for parents to realize that it is not “just a phase”. Your child will not outgrow it on their own – or ever for that matter. This is a fact of life for them and will effect them long after their school years. It can either help them be brilliant or debilitated in their daily adult interactions. It truly is up to the parents to make that difference early on. The well-adjusted adult dyslexic has the ability to be top in their field. Einstein and Mozart are both good examples of dyslexics that found the thing that made sense to them and ran with it!
Thank you for the information, it has been really helpful to have a real perspective.
Yes, to all of these! Last school year before my daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia the principal pulled her out and nicely encouraged her to stop guessing words. As her parents I was upset by this..she already struggled with reading in 2nd grade and was in Tier 3 intervention for two years. This didn’t sit right with me. My daughter worked hard and wasn’t doing it to get out of work she simply was dyslexic and our educators need educated!