Decoding Dyslexia

Ohio’s state education code has adopted the definition of dyslexia as a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin and characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Kids with dyslexia may struggle with reading comprehension or limited vocabulary growth. The sooner you recognize that your child is falling behind his peers in reading and writing and then reach out for help, the better your outcome will be.

Fact or fiction?

There are several myths about dyslexia including that it is a visual problem and that your child will outgrow the struggle. “Typically the problem grows bigger and the child falls further behind his peers which can lead to secondary consequences such as anxiety, depression, loss of confidence or self-esteem,” said Tammy Alexander, certified dyslexia therapist at Armus Reading Specialists in Toledo. Sign to look for are age-dependent. In the preschool years a child may have trouble learning common nursery rhymes, mispronounce words or be unable to recite the alphabet or days of the week. Kindergarteners and first graders may make reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters, be unable to sound out common one-syllable words or complain that reading is hard. From second grade onward a child may mispronounce long, unfamiliar or complicated words, stumble when reading multi-syllable words, be unable to finish tests on time, have messy handwriting or spell poorly.

Dyslexia is not uncommon and professionals want to be sensitive to your child. “Intervention specialists are speaking up more and calling it unspecified learning disability instead of dyslexia because it affects math, reading and writing so they hesitate to call it dyslexia because people think that is just reading,” said Michelle Bradley, owner and manager at Success with Dyslexia in Toledo.

It is important that kids with dyslexia do not feel singled out. “Be friendly to them and supportive because they do not understand themselves sometimes,” said Bradley. We are fortunate to have laws in place in Ohio that give students with dyslexia rights to get individualized help.

Strategies to help your child

“A two-pronged approach is recommended that includes specialized instruction using structured literacy programs based on the Orton-Gillingham teaching approach to remediate the child’s deficits and academic accommodations and modifications until the time when a student’s reading and writing skills have been remediated to potential and are no longer an issue,” said Alexander.

Something as simple as having more time or a different way to complete a task can make all the difference. “If a student needs to read a particular chapter in history class and be ready to discuss the content,” said Alexander. “It would benefit that student to be able to listen to the chapter using assistive technology rather than laboriously reading the chapter themselves.”

Often, a multisensory approach works wonders. “The goal when teaching students with dyslexia is to incorporate visual, auditory and kinesthetic-tactile modalities simultaneously during instruction,” explained Alexander.

Available resources

“In this electronic age, speech to text is on the computer and tablets,” said Bradley. Remember even though kids with dyslexia have weaknesses, they still have strengths. “They are left-brained people, very creative and many see in 3-D which makes them successful as engineers, inventors and wonderful athletes,” Bradley added.

Knowledge is Power—Where to get Help

International Dyslexia Association of Northern Ohio
PO Box 172 Richfield, OH 44286

Armus Reading Specialists
4165 Monroe St. Ste. B., Toledo

Success with Dyslexia
1014 Shadow Lane, Toledo

Decoding Dyslexia OH Family Support