Do you know someone who struggles with dyslexia? Or maybe you’re an adult with dyslexia that hasn’t been diagnosed until now. Whatever the case may be, dyslexia is out there and it’s one of the more common learning disabilities. In fact, more than 3 million individuals in the United States alone are diagnosed with dyslexia at one point in their life or another.
But why do I care?
Because, I feel that it’s important to bring light to all sorts of learning and developmental disabilities. I myself struggle with a learning disability called dyscalculia which is similar to dyslexia. That’s why I wanted to share some tips and advice for identifying and dealing with dyslexia and dyscalculia.
As a child, I struggled with proper handwriting, numbers, and letter sequences. I had slight difficulties with learning and I was eventually diagnosed with a learning disability. Numbers still overwhelmed me and math was an intimidating subject throughout my time in elementary school, middle school, and high school.
And while I was able to overcome many things, and I would consider myself to be a successful adult, numbers can still get the best of me thanks to dyscalculia.
A part of me also suspects that I have dyslexia or at the very least have learned how to cope with having dyslexia.
Or, knowing what I know now, it could have also been undiagnosed ADHD.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a language-based disorder that is characterized by difficulty with decoding single words. This difficulty is normally a reflection of the individuals inability to properly phonological process words. It is important to note that dyslexia has nothing to do with any sort of visual impairment, and that they can severely hamper an individual’s ability to read.
Dyslexia includes the inability to:
– Name letters
– Read words and/or sentences
– Recognize words directly (even if the individual can sound them out)
The different forms of dyslexia are most likely directly related to the different brain regions that are affect; most theories focus on the non-primary area that are located in the frontal lobe and temporal lobe of the brain. Dyslexia symptoms vary greatly on the area of the brain that is affected but any symptoms that lead to complications with the above listed inabilities are to be taken seriously.
How to Support a Child with Dyslexia
- Be supportive. Trouble learning to read may affect your child’s self-esteem. Be sure to express your love and support. Encourage your child by praising his or her talents and strengths.
- Talk to your child. Explain to your child what dyslexia is and that it’s not a personal failure. The better your child understands this, the better he or she will be able to cope with having a learning disability.
- Take steps to help your child learn at home. Provide a clean, quiet, organized place for your child to study, and designate a study time. Also, make sure your child gets enough rest and eats regular, healthy meals.
- Stay in contact with your child’s teachers. Talk with teachers frequently to make sure your child is able to stay on track. Be sure he or she gets extra time for tests that require reading, if needed. Ask the teacher if it would help your child to record the day’s lessons to play back later.
- Join a support group. This can help you stay in contact with parents whose children face similar learning disabilities. Support groups can provide useful information and emotional support. Ask your doctor or your child’s reading specialist if there are any support groups in your area. Or search reputable sites on the Internet for dyslexia or reading disability support groups.
Also be sure to look into these ways to support a child with dyslexia in the school system.
What is Dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is a term referring to a wide range of life-long learning disabilities involving math.
There is no single form of math disability, and difficulties vary from person to person and affect people differently in school and throughout life. Individuals with this type of learning disability may also have poor comprehension of math symbols, may struggle with memorizing and organizing numbers, have difficulty telling time, or have trouble with counting.
Warning signs of dyscalculia include:
- Shows difficulty understanding concepts of place value, and quantity, number lines, positive and negative value, carrying and borrowing
- Has difficulty understanding and doing word problems
- Has difficulty sequencing information or events
- Exhibits difficulty using steps involved in math operations
- Shows difficulty understanding fractions
- Is challenged making change and handling money
- Displays difficulty recognizing patterns when adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing
- Has difficulty putting language to math processes
- Has difficulty understanding concepts related to time such as days, weeks, months, seasons, quarters, etc.
- Exhibits difficulty organizing problems on the page, keeping numbers lined up, following through on long division problems
How to Support a Child with Dyscalculia:
- Use graph paper for students who have difficulty organizing ideas on paper.
- Work on finding different ways to approach math facts; i.e., instead of just memorizing the multiplication tables, explain that 8 x 2 = 16, so if 16 is doubled, 8 x 4 must = 32.
- Practice estimating as a way to begin solving math problems.
- Introduce new skills beginning with concrete examples and later moving to more abstract applications.
- For language difficulties, explain ideas and problems clearly and encourage students to ask questions as they work.
- Provide a place to work with few distractions and have pencils, erasers and other tools on hand as needed.
How do you best support a child with a learning disability?
Dealing with dyslexia and dyscalculia can be difficult at any age.
But it’s especially important to identify a suspected learning disability as early as possible so you can get your child the support that they need through an IEP or 504 plan. And it’s also important to remember that these learning disabilities just don’t disappear as a child gets older. That child with a learning disability will eventually become an adult with a learning disability.
That’s nothing to be ashamed of!
As your child gets older, help them build up support strategies so that they can cope with their disability. Don’t make it a stigma and don’t make it a bad thing. Children will also learn their own coping skills to make up for the areas that they might be lacking in.
For me, personally, it’s meant recognizing that I will never have a stellar career in any math related field. Though I may have been able to conquer statistics; that’s more related to logic and problem solving.
Just because you have a learning disability doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed in life. Far from it. You can overcome almost anything with hard work and determination.
Do you know anyone who’s dealing with dyslexia and dyscalculia? They don’t go hand in hand, of course, so it may just be one or the other.