Language and learning disorders are not as uncommon as one might think among children in the United States, even those students with average or above average intelligence. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), 1 in 5 children in the U.S. have learning and attention issues such as dyslexia. Even though studies show that number to be true, 48 percent of parents believe incorrectly that children will outgrow these brain-based difficulties. On top of that, 33 percent of educators say that sometimes what people call a learning disability is really just laziness. However, that is not the case. Specific Learning Disorders (SLDs) like dyslexia can be addressed when properly identified and appropriate interventions and support are put into place.
So, what is dyslexia?
The International Dyslexia Association defines it as follows:
“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
Every child’s journey with dyslexia is different, and a diagnosis can be a complicated one for some students. Here are a few things to note from that definition:
- The problems associated with dyslexia are language-based, not visual.
- The problems associated with dyslexia are not related to cognitive skills or intelligence. Even some of the most gifted students and struggle with dyslexia.
- The effects of dyslexia can extend beyond just reading comprehension. Students who are diagnosed with dyslexia can often have difficulties with written expression and/or math.
How do I know if my child has dyslexia?
There are a variety of signs that can signal that a child might struggle with dyslexia. According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America, some children struggle with word recognition, decoding, and spelling. This can also show in reading comprehension deficits as well as deficits in phonemic and phonological awareness. In addition, individuals with dyslexia may also have impaired orthographic processing, which you may notice if they have trouble connecting letters and letter combinations with sounds accurately and fluently.
Some other signs of an SLD may present in the way your child acts. There is a strong correlation between stress and anxiety in individuals that struggle with something like dyslexia. You may notice that your child shows different anxiety around situations that require them to read (ie. going to school, resisting or making excuses as to why they cannot participate in an activity that involves reading, complaints of tummy aches or other ailments that only come up around those types of activities). Other signs of dyslexia or SLDs can manifest in a child’s behavior as well. Oftentimes, to avoid embarrassment or shame, a child may make a joke or do something inappropriate to distract others from their inability to complete a task or assignment. If your child has any of the above signs, it may be time to look into an evaluation.
What do I do if I think my child may have dyslexia?
The first step in determining a dyslexia diagnosis is to schedule a comprehensive evaluation. There is no single test that can be used to determine dyslexia. Instead, a series of tests, history and background information, input from others, etc. must be used to evaluate a child’s true strengths and weaknesses.
It is important to seek an evaluation from a qualified professional. At the ACCESS Evaluation and Resource Center, our team of evaluators and examiners can perform a battery of tests to evaluate the whole profile of a child to identify:
- the specific areas of deficits;
- any co-existing diagnoses such as written expression disorders, math disorders, mental health and behavioral diagnoses;
- and other factors that might be affecting a child’s ability to learn;
- a child’s IQ in order to have a full understanding of each individual’s academic capabilities.
Once a qualified examiner has performed a comprehensive evaluation, you should receive a full report and meet with your examiner to discuss results and next steps. A good evaluator will be able to make recommendations that are appropriate for your child and your family’s situation including both intervention options as well as accommodations.
How do I choose the best learning environment for my child with dyslexia?
Once your child has a diagnosis of dyslexia, it is important to find the best learning environment or solutions to suit your child’s and family’s needs. At ACCESS, we offer different opportunities to address SLDs such as dyslexia:
- Academic Therapy – Our academic therapists/dyslexia interventionists offer specialized and targeted interventions that supplements a child’s education experience by helping them develop strategies tailored to their strengths to best learn and participate in academics. Fill out an online inquiry or contact an Admissions Specialist today at (501) 217-8600.
- Specialty School – ACCESS Academy offers the most comprehensive special education in Arkansas for individuals with language or learning disorders. Our team of experts use unique methods for learning. These approaches offer a direct, explicit, multi-sensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals. These methods have proven to be very successful, and students are able to work at their individual levels to progress toward personalized goals.At the ACCESS Academy, we take a team approach to learning, which includes the educators, therapists, and most importantly, the parents! With full support, we have seen great success for students with learning disabilities in reaching their goals. Whether the goal is to transition back to a traditional learning environment after a few years, attend college, or have a successful career, the team at the ACCESS Academy works with families to achieve those desires. The sooner intervention can begin, the better!If you are interested in learning more about the ACCESS Academy for your child, fill out our online inquiry form or call an Admissions Specialist at (501) 217-8600. From there, we will learn more about your child to determine if ACCESS Academy is the right fit for your family.
- Supplemental Therapy Services – As mentioned earlier, individuals with dyslexia can often struggle beyond just reading. Sometimes, it can be helpful to address different weaknesses through speech-language or occupational therapy. The ACCESS therapy team helps children with SLDs develop skills to help with everything from language processing and vocabulary to writing and other fine motor tasks. Learn more about our therapy team or contact us by filling out our online inquiry form or calling an Admissions Specialist at (501) 217-8600.
- Behavioral and Mental Health Counseling – As mentioned previously, learning disabilities such as dyslexia can sometimes cause behavioral issues in child as a result of anxiety or depression associated with the SLD. ACCESS’ Licensed Clinical Social Worker can provide behavioral and mental health counseling services for children and adolescents, along with their families, to address those issues. Learn more about our behavioral and mental health services or contact us to schedule an appointment.
Students with dyslexia or other SLDs do not have to struggle academically. With the right diagnosis and intervention tactics in place, students can learn to use their strengths while developing their weaker skills to discover the learning approaches that are most successful for them. The key to every success is getting started. If you think your child could benefit from an evaluation or intervention methods, don’t wait. Contact a professional, experienced organization like ACCESS today.