Mrs. James offers advice for parents of children with dyslexia.
Dear Mrs. James,
I saw your bit on autism. I was wanting to ask if you know a lot about dyslexia. I am afraid my son may be dyslexic. His father was and so was my brother and it was a horrid experience.
Because of this, I'm paranoid. I always think this is dyslexia and that is dyslexia. Wondering if you might be able to tell me some true keys to knowing if my son really might have it. I'm nervous and discouraged and hoping you can help me out!
Hello, Love! Thanks for writing in. I know that anytime a child is struggling in school, it can be a very emotional thing for parents. I also know that it can be extra emotional when the parents haven't a clue about how to help. I can certainly understand your discouragement and fear. But don't give up hope just yet!
Remember this: Whatever your son's dad and your brother experienced due to dyslexia does not have to be the fate for your son. Back in the day, they were still trying to figure out what this whole dyslexia thing even meant. Nowadays, after tons of research and experimentation, you have proven signs, strategies, and alternative options at your fingertips. Many people with dyslexia are perfectly capable of functioning in the world after making a few minor adjustments to the way they learn. So don't freak out! Seriously.
To answer your question, here are a few symptoms of dyslexia. If your son is experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, he may have dyslexia or a learning disability.
Letter or word reversals when reading. (Such as was/saw, b/d, p/q.) Letter or word reversals when writing. Difficulty repeating what is said to them. Poor handwriting or printing ability. Poor drawing ability. Reversing letters or words when spelling words that are presented orally. Difficulty comprehending written or spoken directions. Difficulty with right - left directionality. Difficulty understanding or remembering what is said to them. Difficulty understanding or remembering what they have just read. Difficulty putting their thoughts on paper. Totally get him tested if he has any of these systems. Check with the school's intervention specialist for more information. I'm here to help in any way I can. Let me know how it turns out!
Keep up the good work!
Dear Mrs. James,
My son is 6 years old and he reverses his letters/words often and has trouble with directionality. They are going to test him for dyslexia, but I agree with what you often say that parents should not depend solely on the school system to educate their children. I have been working a lot with him on his reversals, but I am having trouble with directionality. I'm not a teacher, so I have trouble being creative. Do you have any ideas of ways I can help him with directionality?
Hi, Serenity! Do you even know how happy your question just made me?! OMG, like seriously! Not only are you trying to get your son the help he needs to be successful academically, but you are taking the bull by the horns and looking for ways that YOU can also contribute to that success! You're thinking like I like folks to think! Go girl.
Yes, there are tons of things you can do to help with his directionality. I have tons of ideas. But first, let me remind you of this before I get going! It is not unusual for children to reverse letters and words when they read and write up to age 7. This is simply due to immaturity in brain development. However, in your case since the school is about to test him, I'm assuming that he's displaying other signs of dyslexia. So, here are some things you can do at home to help him out.
Have him trace his hands on a sheet of paper and label them "left" and "right." Play Simon Says-"Touch right foot-raise left hand," etc. Use lined paper for writing and teach him to start as close to the red line as possible. This way he can only write left to right.
Put a weighted wrist band to designate his right or left hand. Use reading markers, "windows" and other left-to-right directional aids.
That should be plenty to get you started. Let me know if you need more ideas. Until then
Keep up the good work!