Dyslexia: How To Help At Home
What is dyslexia? Dyslexia is a language disorder characterized by a deterioration in the ability to recognize words, reading slowly, and problems with reading comprehension. Most people describe dyslexia as “inverting similar words” and “confusing left and right”, but dyslexia is much more than that, it has many other effects and doesn’t only interfere with academics, but also with social interactions (low self-esteem, stress, frustration…). In this post, we’re going to talk about dyslexia and how we can help out at home. Not sure if your child has a dyslexia? Find out how to tell if your child has a learning disorder.
I’m sure that we’ve all known someone who is dyslexic. It is, after all, quite common, affecting an estimated 10% of the population. This means that in your class of 20 people, 2 have dyslexia. When I was in school, no one had dyslexia…at least we didn’t know if they did. Knowing what we know now, I’m sure that some of the children that the teachers cast off as “stupid” or lazy, were actually just dyslexic and trying to overcome this learning disorder.
So, as a child I didn’t know anyone with dyslexia, but as I grew up I started meeting a ton of dyslexic people: at work, some of my friends, and even family members. I have a friend who found out that she was dyslexic when she was 28 years old, who decided to go to England to study. She had a hard time following along in class, she couldn’t understand the material, and she was falling behind. When she went to see her academic adviser, they realized that the problems she was having weren’t due to the accent or culture shock, but to her dyslexia.
Have you guys ever asked yourselves how it would feel to be dyslexic? How it would be to read everything backwards? Computer programmer Victor Widell did, so he created this website that recreates how it is for someone with dyslexia to read, according to a friend’s description.
It’s a simple way to help us understand dyslexia and put ourselves in the shoes of someone with a reading disorder. However, we have to be conscience of the fact that dyslexia is more than just scrambled letters. Dyslexia is also characterized by other cognitive problems, like difficulty planning, organizing, managing time, and paying attention. Aside from these problems, it is common to also have emotional conflicts related to frustration, low self-esteem, and hopelessness… How can you help your child with these problems? We’ll give you a few tips below.
Tips for parents with dyslexic kids, how to help at home
Give emotional support
Talk to your kid about their difficulties. Listen to them. Be interested in what they have to say: answer their questions and try to see their problems from how they see them, understand how they’re feeling… Make sure they know that you’re there to help them and that you’ll love them regardless of their grades at school. Reward them for their effort.
Help raise their self-esteem
Children with dyslexia usually have low self-esteem, which is why it is important to help them feel better about themselves. Remember that kids with dyslexia don’t only have problems, but they also have talents like an ability to connect ideas, mental flexibility, and the ability to see the “big picture” when it comes to problems.
- Help the child figure out their strengths, I’m sure there are a ton! Rely on them to manage difficulties.
- Give them assignments that you know they can do and celebrate when they do it well. For more difficult assignments, try to focus on their strong points.
- Don’t pressure them or make negative comments.
- Don’t compare them to other kids.
Show them how to be better organized
Many children with dyslexia have a high level of stress, which makes them even more frustrated. For them, no matter how hard they try or how long they study for, they will never get the results that they worked for. Being more organized can help them learn better and improve their self-perception.
- Establish routines and use external support systems to help them organize their time, like using calendars and agendas to write down homework (try to keep them somewhere visible), with a to-do list, pictures, visual aids…
- Let them use the technology they need. Luckily, we now have a ton of technology that can help with learning: computers, tablets, recorder, audio books…
- It may also be helpful to remove distractions from the study area and to keep the area tidy.
This post is also available in: Spanish