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, with 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 with 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.
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 ques in the 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.
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.”
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.