Have you ever studied a foreign language and been puzzled by the words in the textbook? Imagine that feeling every time you pick up a book, and you'll have some idea what it means to be a child who's dyslexic. Children with dyslexia see letters on the page, but can’t “break the code” to make sense of the words.
The word dyslexia literally means to have difficulty with words. Where that difficulty occurs can vary. Dyslexic children may have trouble with reading, writing, comprehension, and spelling. They may also struggle to discriminate differences in letter sounds, and may reverse letters in a word or words in a sentence. It's important to realize that dyslexia isn't the result of a lack of intelligence. In fact, many dyslexics are also gifted.
Hopefully, if your child is dyslexic, he or she was diagnosed early and is receiving special help with reading. But parents can help their dyslexic children at home, too. Lynette Blough, a special education teacher for elementary students, has these suggestions for getting dyslexic students to approach reading with confidence and enthusiasm:
Children who have been diagnosed as dyslexic need to be practicing reading even more than their peers. Encourage them to read all types of material such as comic books, magazines, and newspapers as well as books, and to practice reading aloud to parents and siblings are well as to themselves. The type of reading material is less important than the fact that they are improving their reading skills. So let them choose what appeals to them, without judgement.
Looking for books specifically made for dyslexics? Blough recommends a type of book called hi/lo-- so-called because these books have a high interest level and a low reading level. Hi Lo books look like regular chapter books, with cool cover pictures and interesting plotlines. The only difference is that the chapters are shorter than usual and the sentence length and vocabulary are controlled. There are many publishers that publish Hi Lo books, but Ms. Blough recommends that you start with High Noon Books at www.HighNoonBooks.com.
Books on tape have been around for years, but they can be a great tool for dyslexic students. Blough recommends that students with dyslexia follow along in the book while listening to the tape, CD, or digital file. By listening to the intonation of the voice and expression, children learn how letters and words are “chunked,” and work their word recognition into the bargain.
You’ve heard of family game night. Why not do the same with reading? Turn off the TV for one night a week and gather in the family room with a stack of books. Make it a weekly routine and your kids will start to look forward to it. You can read out loud or everyone can read silently – or both! Mix it up so that kids read to parents, and parents read to kids. Your child will start to see you as a role model for reading, and begin to feel empowered by having a receptive audience.