Disclosure: October is Dyslexia Awareness month here in Canada and I’m working with Dyslexia Canada to share information about dyslexia, tips for recognizing it in children and how parents can help. As always, all opinions are my own.
Dyslexia Awareness: What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects a person’s ability to read, write, and spell. It can make reading accurately and fluently difficult and affect spelling and writing. Basically, dyslexia jumbles up how the brain interprets words and letters, causing them to be confusing to the reader. While dyslexia cannot be cured, early identification and help can make it manageable.
As you can imagine, without early identification, it can make school a struggle. This is why dyslexia awareness is so important! Kids and parents need the tools to recognize dyslexia and get help in time before their learning disability causes them to fall behind in school and learning.
Identifying dyslexia early is the key to successful management. Here are some signs that may mean your child struggles with dyslexia:
- Difficulties rhyming, learning and remembering letter names and their sounds.
- Difficulty sounding out simple words like cat, nap, etc.
- Avoiding participating in class.
- The child has a parent or sibling with dyslexia.
Next Steps if You Suspect Dyslexia
Coming to grips with the possibility that your child may have a learning disability is one of the hardest things we ever have to do as parents. I get it! We went through it when we discovered Evan had ADHD. The thing that kept me going through it all is the knowledge that the more I knew, the more I could help him be successful.
So what do you do if you think your child has dyslexia? First, go talk to their school. Parents are their child’s best advocate to get the support they need at school. Testing for dyslexia will likely be one of the first steps the school will want to take. Schools will discuss your child’s progress, conduct informal reading assessments and provide some extra reading help. Formal assessments for dyslexia may not be immediately provided. You can also do a preliminary online screening at DyslexiaIDA.org. You can also find a list of local dyslexia assessors near you for further testing if you feel it is needed.
Whether your child has been formally assessed or not, work with the school and your child to find ways that you can use their strengths to help them participate and succeed at school. Some examples might be the use of a scribe or conducting oral reports instead of written. Finding those little wins and ways to succeed is the key to keeping your child engaged and eager to learn at school. No one wants to do something that feels like a struggle every day and working with the school is key to avoiding this!
I would love to say that your role as an advocate is a one and done thing, but it isn’t. Make sure to keep the lines of communication open with your child’s school. Also, work with your child to help them explain their learning disability and ask for the help they need. And if you hit roadblocks that seem insurmountable, remember that you have options. Call the school board, get testing done privately, call outside resources, find parent support groups. Again, we had to do this for Evan and it made all the difference.
Dyslexia Awareness: Facts and Figures
- Dyslexia affects everyone equally, regardless of race, gender, socio-economic or ethnic background.
- Dyslexia isn’t something you “catch”, it doesn’t have anything to do with intelligence or work ethic. It is a hereditary condition of the brain.
- Dyslexia affects 15 to 20 percent of children.
- 92 percent of Canadians believe it is important that educators receive training about dyslexia but…
- Less than one third say they may be able to recognize someone with dyslexia.
Dyslexia Awareness Next Steps
- Educate yourself about dyslexia by visiting DyslexiaCanada.org. There are resources to explain dyslexia basics, support for parents, resources for testing, working with your child’s school and more.
- Support Dyslexia Canada’s campaign, Mark It Read, as buildings and monuments across Canada use red lights to show their support of the 15-20 percent of Canadians living with Dyslexia. You can find out when the red lights will hit your city and ideas for finding your own way to Mark It Read at the link above! Share your images to social media using the hashtags #markitread and #dyslexiacanada
Don’t miss the following monuments that will be lit up in the colour red in my neck of the woods:
- Edmonton High Level Bridge – October 24
- Calgary Tower – October 24
- Reconciliation Bridge (Calgary) – October 24
At the end of the day, remember that everyone’s brain is different and dyslexia is just one type of difference. The more you know about dyslexia and how to recognize and treat it, the better it can be managed for happier, more successful kids.