Is your child acting up at school? Is he/she forever scoring poorly in all tests and spelling quizzes, making errors in language – written or spoken, and forgetting even important homework? Does your child’s writing look anything like this?
“To mi dadee and momee
I bo not wont to po to scool ne more becouse mi frends ar lafing at me.
from yor sun”
If some of these sound familiar, it’s time to consider and understand dyslexia. Typically, your child’s school teacher will be the first to notice signs of dyslexia. Trouble in reading and comprehension; test papers wielding angry red marks for scores of spelling mistakes; and a notorious handwriting that is difficult to decipher – these could all point to dyslexia.
The symptoms and severity of dyslexia differ from child to child. Some may struggle to tell left from right while others may have problems with reading and spelling. Other children who do well with early reading and writing may feel challenged when complex skills such as grammar or more in-depth writing are involved.
Fundamentally, IQ scores cannot predict the difference in the cognitive abilities of dyslexic children as against other children. However, dyslexic children are very creative. They excel at thinking outside the box, although the reason for this creativity is still not clear.1
Quite often, dyslexia may be confused with dysphasia, a language impairment that affects the ability to communicate. A person with dysphasia experiences symptoms like jerky, non-fluent speech, difficulty in finding the right words to express themselves, or scattered and slow, hesitant speech. 2 Dyslexia, however, is a specific language impairment that includes lisps and other mispronunciations. A dyslexic child may experience dysphasia, but a dysphasic child is not necessarily dyslexic.3
Dyslexia symptoms vary with age and as the schoolwork gets more demanding, the child will have more trouble processing language. Dyslexia isn’t something your child will outgrow. It can, however, be managed well when caught and addressed rigorously in the early stages.
Here are some signs and symptoms to keep in mind depending on the grade your child is in.
- Difficulty learning simple nursery rhymes
- Difficulty identifying words
- Inability to recognize rhyming words such as “tap” and “cap”
- Taking time to learn new words
- Difficulty remembering the letters of the alphabet4
Kindergarten And First Grade
They show curiosity, great imagination and a good understanding of new concepts, and enjoy solving puzzles. However, they struggle with:
- Speaking and reading
- Differentiating sounds such as “b” and “d”
- Reading errors (e.g., saying “puppy” instead of deciphering the written word “dog” on the page with a dog’s picture)
- Connecting letters and making words, and also understanding that words can be taken apart into letters
- Correct pronunciation (e.g., saying “mawn lower” instead of “lawn mower”)
Second Grade And Above
Dyslexic children can exhibit excellent thinking skills, have an extensive listening vocabulary, and are great with subjects such as math or computers that don’t depend on reading. They are better at learning through meaning than rote memorization. However, they struggle with:
- Fluency in speaking. You’ll find a lot of “um’s” in a conversation
- Remembering names of people and places, especially ones that sound alike
- Gripping a pencil
- Following a sequence of directions
Dyslexic young adults are good writers if spelling isn’t a consideration. They show exceptional empathy for others, always think about the big picture, and are excellent in specialized areas such as law, medicine, finance, architecture, or public policy. On the other hand, they struggle with:
- Reading out loud
- Understanding idioms or jokes
- Organizing and managing time
- Learning a foreign language
- Having a social life
- Understanding a wide spectrum of spoken words
- Expressing themselves, because they tend to have a limited spoken vocabulary
- Recalling words from memory. They often find themselves saying, “The word is on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t recall it.”5
What To Do Next
Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor if your child is experiencing any of these symptoms. Early detection can lead to targeted interventions that can help your child become independent and socially at par with peers.
Alternative systems like Ayurveda and yoga can also help manage certain symptoms of dyslexia. A large study found that Ayurvedic medicines such as Guduchi, Jatamansi, Brahmi, Madhuyashti, Ashwagandha, Mandookaparni, Shankhapushpi, and Jyotishmati can help relieve sensory and motor symptoms associated with dyslexia.6 Yogic asanas and deep breathing exercises can help improve concentration, memory, and balance. Yogic eye exercises are also recommended by practitioners to strengthen the optic nerve and stimulate the brain.7
|↑1||Nicolson, R. I. (1996). Developmental Dyslexia: Past, Present and Future. Dyslexia (10769242), 2(3), 190-207.|
|↑2||Chang MY,Dean RS. Expressive Dysphasia. Encyclopedia of child behaviour and development. Springer.US, Boston. pp 619.|
|↑3||Dysphasia (Specific Language Impairment-SLI), Dyslexia Research Trust.|
|↑4||Harrison, A. G., Edwards, M. J., & Parker, K. H. (2008). Identifying students feigning dyslexia: preliminary findings and strategies for detection. Dyslexia (10769242), 14(3), 228-246.|
|↑5||Shaywitz, Sally. Overcoming dyslexia. Random House Inc. 2005.|
|↑6||Sharma, A., Gothecha, V. K., & Ojha, N. K. (2012). Dyslexia: A solution through Ayurveda evidences from Ayurveda for the management of dyslexia in children: A review. Ayu, 33(4), 486–490.|
|↑7||Chivers, Maria. Dyslexia and alternative therapies. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2006.|