Constantly misspelling and mistaking words for others?
Not completing homework on time?
If this sounds like one of your students, it may not be their fault, and perhaps it's time for a Dyslexia assessment.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is the most common learning disability, affecting at least one in every ten people. Dyslexia affects different people in different ways. With not one person exhibiting all the possible symptoms, some people may even exhibit symptoms that change throughout their lifetime.
People with Dyslexia do not see words any differently from how people without Dyslexia see words. Instead, how those words are processed is different and more challenging for Dyslexic students.
Identifying Dyslexia before Primary School
Dyslexia can be difficult to identify and diagnose in children under 6 for various reasons, mainly because younger children lack a formal introduction to reading and writing. Also, up to that point, they typically have not needed to perform these skills in an environment where a professional can observe a child's progress and abilities compared to their peers.
Some Common Signs Pointing to Dyslexia can include:
Difficulty learning and remembering the alphabet
Learning common nursery rhymes
Recognising and spelling their name
Mispronouncing familiar words
Using baby talk
Being unable to identify common rhyming patterns
However, if a child exhibits these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean they have Dyslexia. Instead, they may have a speech and language delay or a different neuro-developmental disorder, such as ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Identifying Dyslexia in Primary School Children
With the introduction of formal reading, writing, and maths tasks, starting Primary School is when learning difficulties and delays become more apparent. In addition, students are now learning amongst their peers, so students performing tasks below the average will stand out to their teachers as potentially having a learning disability or problem.
Due to the difficulty in detecting Dyslexia in children under six years of age, educators will probably deal with parents unaware of specific learning difficulties. For example, they may not have had the resources and opportunities to observe their children's behaviours and habits directly or to compare them closely with other children of the same age. Therefore, it is essential to be sensitive yet direct when identifying and addressing the potential for Dyslexia with each of your students in primary school. It is also important to acknowledge that no student will possess all of the potential characteristics Dyslexia may present.
Potential signs to look out for:
Trouble pairing letters with sounds
Struggling to read isolated words (not in a chunk of text)
Confusing or mistaking words for other words
Reading aloud at a slower, more staggered rate than the average student.
Trouble remembering basic Maths facts like times tables and how to read an analogue clock
Signs of Dyslexia in Secondary School Children
A Dyslexia diagnosis is quite common in Secondary School. However, depending on the stage of life, the disorder can affect children differently as they grow. In other words, some symptoms of Dyslexia may change or develop in older children. For example, secondary school-aged children with Dyslexia can experience any of the following:
They will maintain a slow reading pace, making many mistakes as they read aloud;
Both spelling and handwriting will be a challenge;
Summarising and proofreading texts will prove challenging for students as the ability to focus on and identify specific words remains difficult, just as in their earlier years.
It's shown that students may possess a smaller pool of knowledge as they have limited reading experience and struggle to attach meanings to words and remember them.
Dyslexic students are known to succeed more in school subjects that are not heavily language-oriented, such as Science, compared to English and History.
"I think my student has Dyslexia."
Realising your student could have Dyslexia is a challenging experience for any teacher to face and should be dealt with with care, empathy, and patience. Having Dyslexia does not mean a child is not intelligent. Still, after years of struggling to keep up with their peers, these students can have lower self-esteem. Hence, it's essential to let them know this is a fairly common situation and there is hope.
Suppose you have observed signs of Dyslexia with one of your students. In that case, the best course of action is to discuss the importance of assessing the student with your parents. Only with an assessment and complete diagnosis can you take the necessary steps to ensure the student receives all the support they need.
Like most educational assessments, an educational psychologist will perform various tests with the student to assess their learning style and identify their strengths and weaknesses. In addition, the psychologist can determine whether or not your student has Dyslexia or any other kind of learning difficulty that may require individual attention and help.
Getting an Educational Assessment for Your Student
Proper diagnoses and early intervention by an Educational Psychologist will help your child, and student get the most out of their education and, most importantly, enjoy learning. Every child can be successful with the proper guidance and goals.