Dyslexia is the most common learning disability diagnosed in children. Dyslexia causes the brain to have a problem translating language (written and spoken language). When someone with dyslexia symptoms hears or reads language (words); the brain does not process the information properly and the person has difficulty understanding what they have read or what has been said to them.
Diagnosing dyslexia symptoms in early childhood (before a child enters school) can be difficult. Few symptoms are present but predominately include slow speech development. Not all children who talk late have dyslexia; some just develop the skill later than others and do not have any learning disability. Once a child enters school dyslexia symptoms cause a pronounced difficulty with learning language skills. Most often a child’s teacher will pick up on the cues that indicate a learning problem. Some of the common dyslexia symptoms that present once a child enters school include:
- Difficulty understanding what he/she hears
- Instructions are difficult for the child to understand and execute.
- The child may not be able to remember a group of words or points in a story when asked to recall them
- Inability to follow two (or more) step commands
- Letters (or words) that look similar are seen backwards. For example, a child with dyslexia may see “no” when the word is actually “on”. This characteristic is not a dyslexia symptom until the child reaches 8 years old or above due to children younger than this reverse words and letters as a normal part of their learning process.
- Difficulty learning to read will cause the child to read well below the grade level expected of the child’s age.
When dyslexia symptoms first present, they may be subtle and hard to detect. A child may develop other symptoms that are a result of the effects dyslexia has on a child’s psycho-social development. Behavioral signs such as rebellion, anger and lashing out may be seen. The child may experience frustration because they try; but cannot understand what is being taught. In some cases the child may be viewed as lazy or less intelligent. This is untrue, as almost all children with dyslexia are of normal intelligence.
Often the child with dyslexia symptoms notices they do not learn and progress as well as their peers. They do not understand why they can’t do what other children do and suffer from low self esteem. The child may withdraw from engaging in activities with other children.
Diagnosing dyslexia is not a simple one step process. A complete physical exam is necessary to rule out any medical reasons for the problem. Hearing, vision and neurological processes are evaluated to make sure a deficit in one of these is not causing the issue. Psychological assessment is used to find any underlying depression, anxiety or mental health problems. Educational assessments are used to determine the specific cognitive areas the child is having a problem with. These tests are needed to locate the specific learning disability a child has.
Treating dyslexia symptoms is tailored to the specific needs and abilities of a child. Generally, special tutoring is required to give the child additional assistance with reading skills. Finding a child’s strengths and using them to help teach learning skills go a long way in helping a child with dyslexia symptoms. Some children who have severe dyslexia may never be able to read and will need special assistance with language. Moderate dyslexia symptoms can be overcome and the child read at a high enough level to be successful.