Is Your Child Struggling With Reading?

Dyslexia is a reading disorder, the most common type of learning disability in children. It is not due to a vision problem or lack of early education, but is believed to be a brain-based abnormality affecting a person’s ability to read. A child has a higher risk of dyslexia if someone in the family has this condition.

A dyslexic child may appear average or bright when talking, but has difficulty when it comes to reading and writing. This often causes the child to struggle with his studies, leading to poor grades in school. Over time, the child may feel “stupid”, frustrated, have low selfconfidence, or develop other emotional problems.

If not treated early, dyslexia may prevent a child from achieving his full potential, academically or socially. But don’t misunderstand dyslexic children as “dumb”. On the contrary, they often exhibit strong talents in other areas, such as music, sports and art.

The Telltale Signs

Dyslexia is a lifetime condition. However, it need not be a source of your child’s frustration or a barrier to his success. With early intervention, a dyslexic child can learn to overcome his inability and to achieve in school and in life. Therefore, know the common signs to help detect dyslexia early in the child.

Dyslexia Fact
According to the Education Ministry, about 314,000 school-going children in Malaysia have dyslexia.
Source: The Star, March 16, 2009.

Common Signs of Dyslexia

Preschool-aged children School-going children
  • Delats in speech.
  • Learning new words very slowly.
  • Mirror writing (ie writing letters in a reverse way).
  • Reading very slowly, having difficulty reading single words.
  • Poor spelling.
  • Poor short-term memory and short attention span.
  • Difficulty following multiple-step instructions.
  • Having problems with the concept of time.
  • Having trouble in solving mathematical problems.
  • Difficulty in coordinating left and right movements

Talk to your doctor if:

  • Your family has a history of dyslexia.
  • Your child’s reading ability falls below the level expected for his or her age.
  • You notice the abovementioned signs of learning difficulties.

The doctor will refer you to a psychologist or other specialists to perform a formal assessment on the child to confirm dyslexia.

Help for Dyslexia

Once dyslexia is diagnosed, the doctor or psychologist will recommend a remedial education programme for the child. The remedial education programme is specially designed for dyslexic individuals. The programme involves specially-trained teachers or reading specialists to teach specific techniques and strategies that help dyslexics to learn to read, write, spell and understand language better. A dyslexic child would be able to learn like the rest of his classmates when he applies these techniques and strategies.

Parents’ support and encouragement can make a significant difference to a dyslexic child’s learning process. Parents can help to reinforce his learning by reading to him often, and also giving him time to read alone or together. Most importantly, make reading fun by choosing reading materials that interest him. It is also equally important to encourage the child to participate in activities he does well, such as painting, music, drama or sports. This will help to build his confidence.

Learn by Playing

Learning to read may be more effective and interesting when it involves playing. Try these games:

  • Eat the words. Introduce new words to the child using alphabet biscuits. He gets to eat them when he pronounces the words correctly.
  • Hide-and-seek. Write words cut out from paper and hide them around the room. When the child finds a word, have him read out the word. This helps him to remember words.
  • Treasure hunt. Hide an object (eg child’s favourite toy) and make several written short notes to guide him to where the object is hidden (eg go to the kitchen, look under the table, look inside the drawers). This helps him in reading and following instructions.

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