What Is Dyslexia and How Is It Diagnosed?

Between 5-12% of children struggle with dyslexia. It’s not the most commonly diagnosed learning difference, but those affected by it face obstacles that can be managed with the right tools, strategies, and support systems.

To find out whether you should test your child for dyslexia, what the diagnostic process looks like, and what resources are available to families, this guide can offer a helpful start.

What Is Dyslexia?

One of the first signs of dyslexia that parents may notice is a child’s aversion to reading and writing. For an individual without dyslexia, their brain intuitively connects letters on a page to sounds in their brain. Words pull together in comprehensive sentences.

For a child with dyslexia who is working on grasping the basics of reading comprehension, this connection isn’t intuitive and requires significantly more effort to formulate messages that make sense.

When someone has dyslexia, they have challenges recognizing words, and it might cause them to read slower as they identify letters and correspond them to a sound. It might be challenging to break down the words they're reading into sounds and even harder to correlate the letters to the sounds they make when reading.

ehs-dyslexia word letter

Signs of Dyslexia

Several signs of dyslexia become more apparent as children develop. Children may exhibit many or a combination of the following signs:

  • Not wanting to read aloud
  • Mixing up different word sounds
  • Problems sounding out newer words
  • Not understanding how different sounds work together

It's crucial to remember that even if your child exhibits one of these signs, it doesn't mean that your child has dyslexia. However, if they show signs of having problems with learning the fundamental reading skills, it might be a sign to consult with your doctor. You may need to move into the testing phase to ensure your child receives the proper diagnosis.

Causes of Dyslexia

No study has shown a correlation between a child having dyslexia and its cause. However, some theories suggest that dyslexia can be due to genetics.

If there is someone in a child's family that has issues reading or has been diagnosed with dyslexia, the chances of the child having dyslexia is higher.

Testing for Dyslexia

There are no tests or lab screenings that can be used to detect dyslexia, but some things can be done, including an in-depth and careful evaluation of your child. The skills that will be tested when attempting to diagnose dyslexia are as follows:

  • Decoding
  • Rapid naming
  • Phonological awareness
  • Reading comprehension
  • Reading fluency

Phonological awareness will measure your child's ability to work with various sounds in isolation. Phonological awareness is the basis children need to begin learning to read, and when tested, the evaluator will ask your child to blend different sounds.

From there, they will be asked to segment words. Your child's age will determine the complexity of the terms they're asked to segment. Decoding is another form of testing in which children are asked to decode different words accurately.

Not only does this test their accuracy but also how quickly they can recognize words. This test is essential because some children can appear they are reading at the right reading level without actually being able to.

This is often done because children can memorize words instead of using their phonics to identify them when they're reading them.

Rapid naming is another test often used to diagnose dyslexia. Rapid naming measures the ease a child uses to name common things like letters or colors on pages.

This skill aligns with the ability to read fluently. The reason it's crucial is that it means a child can take the information they've stored by reading and access it when they need to.

The evaluator will provide your child with cards that have a series of items on them to test this. These items could be colors, pictures, or other common objects.

Once given the cards, your child should then name them as quickly as possible. The person evaluating your child will track how long it takes your child to identify the elements on each card.

ehs-dyslexia line reader

How to Help Your Child

If your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia, there are several things you can do as a parent, and there are things educators can do to help your child too. The first thing that can be done on both sides is the repetition of skills your child needs to learn when reading.

The more your child practices, the better off they'll be and the better they'll become at reading. It's also helpful to walk your child through various sight word exercises.

Sight words are the common words they use in everyday life and should be able to spot without missing a beat. Teachers might begin to use various comprehensive strategies that will help your child better understand the things they're reading.

It's crucial that you and the school your child attends work together to meet their educational needs and it may be that a public institution just isn’t equipped with the tools to help. Finding a school that specializes in helping students with learning differences like Dyslexia may provide them with additional resources and support.

If your child has recently been diagnosed with Dyslexia, sign up for a virtual open house to find out more about the value of specialized education at Eagle Hill School. Here your child will have all of the resources they need to thrive!

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Topics: Learning Differences, Dyslexia