Finding out that a child has dyslexia is just Step One to supporting his best development and overcoming his learning difficulty. The next steps can be challenging, especially for parents and educators who are encountering the difficulty for the first time.
Below are some things you can do to support a child with dyslexia:
Recognize the child’s uniqueness
Dyslexia is not a disease—it is a difficulty that can be overcome with early and proper interventions. If your child, student, or relative is diagnosed with dyslexia, recognize that the child is still like any other child who needs to be nourished with love and care. However, you must also recognize that he learns differently due to his condition; the teaching and learning approaches that work for his peers may not do the same for him. Helping him will entail patience, understanding, compassion, and strong belief that his difficulty is not insurmountable.
Apply multi-sensory learning
Multi-sensory learning integrates the different senses into learning moments. This approach is especially effective for children with dyslexia as it enables breaking down of complex information into simpler ones, helping children grasp and recall new information better. An informative article on multi-sensory learning may be read here.
Seek expert advice
Dyslexia is not something anybody can outgrow. Therefore, it is important to seek an expert’s advice as early as possible. There are many dyslexics who have become successful readers because they were given immediate and proper support. Don’t settle with DIY interventions—it will surely do more harm than good.
Do tasks that highlight the child’s strengths
Poor self-esteem and self-efficacy are common among children and adults with dyslexia. However, this can be prevented and addressed given healthy support systems especially from the affected child’s home and school. A dyslexic child should be taught early that everyone is challenged by something and that everyone—he included —has strengths that he can harness and focus on.
For teachers, it is not advisable to force dyslexic children to perform oral reading like most students are required to do. This often triggers panic among dyslexics and may even result in judging looks from classmates who do not understand the child’s difficulty. It is important for teachers to help children discover their own unique strengths and not let their weaknesses discourage them from persisting in life.
Praise small and big achievements
Small and big wins should be celebrated. Doing this is a healthy way to make a child feel validated, cared for, and supported. It also boosts his self-image and motivation to face more challenging tasks.
Refrain from using labels
Lazy, slow, and bobo—these are the common labels stamped on children and adults with dyslexia by people who do not understand their condition. As somebody who understands, you should help eliminate these labels.
You definitely need an expert to help you support your child with dyslexia, but you should also maximize available resources to gain as much reliable information as you can. There are activities, audio books, and other materials online that can help your child practice his decoding and reading abilities. Blogs from organizations that support dyslexic children are also helpful resources.
A dyslexic child’s home and school play critical roles in the child’s development and in building his self-esteem and self-efficacy. Be a strong support by learning more about dyslexia and helping others do the same.
Join us in raising awareness this Dyslexia Awareness Month.