What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning difference that affects between 5% and 17% of kids, and one they’ll live with for life. And while many hear the term and think of letter reversals and difficulty reading, dyslexic minds have a host of meaningful strengths and challenges that are far more complex. That’s why Braintrust was thrilled to speak with pediatric neuropsychologist Dr. Matt Pagirsky about common signs of dyslexia, and how best to support children who have this learning difference.

Key Takeaways

  • Dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a child’s ability to read, spell, and use spoken language.
  • It impacts 5% – 17% of children, making it one of the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorders.
  • There are a range of signs and symptoms of dyslexia that are commonly seen at different stages of development.

In Preschool

  • Trouble learning common nursery rhymes
  • Difficulty remembering the names of letters in the alphabet and/or the letters in his or her name
  • Struggles recognizing rhyming words or sounds

In Kindergarten and 1st Grade

  • Difficulty mastering the relationship between letters and sounds
  • Trouble with decoding words, which is to say using phonics to match sounds to the letters in words in order to read
  • Struggles learning and recognizing sight words
  • Increasing resistance to reading

In 2nd and 3rd Grade

  • Continued struggles with phonics and decoding
  • Difficulty reading with accuracy, fluency, and expression
  • Anxiety around reading aloud in class
  • A lack of attention to punctuation when reading
  • A tendency to guess or skip words rather than decode
  • Inconsistent and inaccurate spelling

In 4th Grade and beyond

  • Difficulty reading fluently
  • Increasing struggles around homework due to the volume or complexity of reading material
  • Skipping over or guessing words while reading
  • Inconsistent and inaccurate spelling

  • While children with dyslexia often struggle with reading and writing, they tend to have a unique set of strengths that often include …
    • Remembering stories
    • Seeing the big picture or getting the “gist” of things
    • Strong reasoning abilities, especially with visual information
    • Critical thinking and creative problem solving
    • A high degree of empathy
  • With the right interventions, children with dyslexia can thrive in school and beyond. These supports should include …
    • Reading instruction from a teacher or tutor trained in Orton-Gillingham to build decoding and spelling skills. If you need help with this, our Braintrust tutors are here for you!
    • An IEP at school that includes appropriate services and accommodations such as access to audiobooks, a slower pace of verbal instruction, and extended time for testing and assignments.
    • Lots of support and encouragement at home! This should include playing offline and online phonics games, and spending time reading aloud to your child to inspire a love of stories and build vocabulary.

If you need any support along the way, we are here for you! If your child is struggling to learn how to read, Braintrust reading tutors with Orton-Gillingham training are just a click away. And if you think your child might have dyslexia, it’s best to have your child evaluated by a pediatric neuropsychologist like Dr. Matt Pagirsky

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