Educating Children with Dyslexia

By: Elizabeth G.

Our oldest son, who is nine years old, was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was eight and in the 3rd grade.  He had always been a very “active” child.  With my background in counseling, I was always trying to diagnose him as ADHD.  He continually proved to me that he was not attention-deficit, only VERY active – as are most little boys.  He was always able to finish his work when I got him glued to the chair.  He was a little distractible, but not to a high degree.  I noticed his reading difficulties and how he switched some of the letters around.  He was in speech therapy in the States and a teacher said it was normal for boys to be a little behind and it was nothing to worry about.  I always thought dyslexia was reading a word completely backwards, such as, boy would be yob.  So, the thought that he was dyslexic never entered my mind.

When we moved to Russia another mom helped me home-school.  She is a teacher by profession and told me that my son definitely had some type of learning disability.  With her help, I found a SHARE conference in Moscow.  After attending that conference, hearing more about dyslexia, and having him academically tested, we discovered that dyslexia was a strong possibility.  SHARE could not diagnose him, but their testing showed that he was more than a grade level behind where he should be because of his reading difficulties.  We then sought out another place to get more testing.

After searching the Internet and receiving some help from my sister, who is an overseas’ educator, we found The Learning Resource Center in Cairo, Egypt.  This place was amazing!  In 10 days he was thoroughly evaluated by a speech therapist, behavioral optometrist, psychiatrist, educational psychologist and occupational therapist.  After all the tests and evaluations, we all sat down and they shared with us their findings and recommendations.  I have never been so profoundly inundated with information!  I was overloaded, but it was good since we only had 10 days.  Here are a few things that I learned that surprised me:

  • It is typical to diagnose children with dyslexia in or after the 2nd grade. (This relieved my guilt considerably!) Only then are you able to see what they should be able to read and comprehend.
  • Dyslexics can read words backwards, but also can move letters around in a word, i.e. Dan for and; also they do word substitution based on content, i.e. home for house.
  • They have a problem with decoding unfamiliar words.  Blends like ei or gh are difficult clusters for them.    Ex. Dyslexics can spell fish like ghoti. Gh for f (as in tough), o as in women, and ti as in tion.
  • They hear every sound in a word: in ox, they hear o, k, s.
  • They do better typing than handwriting their assignments.  Spell checker is a blessing for these kids.
  • They have trouble copying information from one place to another and often make many mistakes (i.e. from the board to their paper).
  • They need to read some EVERY day.
  • Dyslexics have a gift of looking at an object and imagining what all sides look like (i.e. seeing all the way around an object–which makes sense why a b could look like a d.

Due to a dyslexic’s difficulty in learning to read, they need a multi-sensory approach to reading that is structured and sequential.  Here are some programs that are recommended: Lind Mood Bell, Seeing Stars, Phonetic Zoo, and Earobics.  These programs recommend things like skywriting, writing letters on their back or in sand, using letter blocks, etc.  They need to see, feel and hear the sounds they are trying to learn.

One thing that is strongly recommended for dyslexics is that they not try to learn to read another language.  It can be very confusing for them, especially if the letters are the same as in English, but have different sounds.

It helped my son to learn that he is dyslexic.  His “activeness” calmed down drastically and we realized it was due to his anxiety about school and his problems in reading!  He is a different child.  He now knows how to type and in 30 minutes wrote me 15 sentences on the Life of Christ!  If he had handwritten it, he would still be writing!  But he uses the spell checker and makes the corrections himself.  Oddly enough, he can tell when a word is misspelled; he just doesn’t know how it’s misspelled.  It also helped him to hear about all the famous people who were dyslexic.  We just keep telling him that God gave him this for a reason and He will use it for HIS good.

Here are some websites and books that have more information on them:

www.interdys.org – International Dyslexia Association has a list of common signs of dyslexia and other helps.

www.sparktop.org – a fun website for kids about how no 2 brains are alike

The Gift of Dyslexia by Davis and Braun

Overcoming Dyslexia by Shaywitz (Both of these books are available from www.amazon.com.)

The Way They Learn by Tobias (This book is available at the Resource Library in Sharjah).

I hope this has been helpful for you!

ü      Discover 37 common characteristics of dyslexia at http://www.dyslexia.com/library/symptoms.htm.  It is a well done website with everything clearly laid out.  An online assessment is included.

ü      Listen to the article– Understanding Dyslexia and Reading Difficultiesat http://www.shareeducation.org/HTML/2006CentralAsia/index.php

ü      Read more about the Learning Resource Center by going to the following website: http://www.lrcegypt.com/main.htm.

ü      There is also a place in Dubai called the British Institute for Learning Development, which has a coordinator for educational needs and is equipped to do extensive testing and assessments.

Dyslexia may negatively affect behavior, reading, handwriting, spelling, writing composition, punctuation, and math.  Most listings of characteristics will expound upon all of these areas.  However, dyslexics are often talented in a variety of ways, for example, they:

  • Often have excellent “people skills”
  • Can be good at problem solving
  • Can be very good at sports
  • Can be good at art, particularly 3D
  • Are often highly intuitive
  • Are very curious about how things work
  • Are highly aware of their environment and often notice details
  • Think in an original way
  • Think holistically
  • Often are very good at “Lego” as a child.
  • Can think three dimensionally (giving rise to talents in such areas as design, computing, acting)         [This list—and information on categories of characteristics—came from http://www.dyslexia-uk.org/ChildCharact.html]

See also: Recognizing Learning Disabilities

And, Helping Students Be Overcomers

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