Questions and Answers
Dyslexia is the most common learning disability, and Reading Rockets gets lots of questions about it, including what it is, warning signs, what to do, and how to help.
Click below for answers to the following dyslexia questions:
What is dyslexia?
For more information, browse Reading Rockets or contact the International Dyslexia Association.
I suspect my child might have dyslexia. What should I do?
After the evaluation process is completed, you can use the information from the evaluation to help you make a decision about the next step in your child's educational path.
How should I teach beginning reading to primary students with special needs?
Reading Rockets offers strategies, lessons, and activities designed to help young children learn to read. Its resources assist parents, teachers, and other educators in working with struggling readers who require additional help in reading and comprehension skills development. Our sister website, Colorín Colorado, although designed for Spanish-speaking parents and educators of English language learners, also has excellent information for anyone interested in early reading instruction.
How common are language-based learning disabilities?
According to the International Dyslexia Asssociation and the Learning Disabilites Association of America, about 15% of the population (close to one in seven) has a learning disability. Of the students with learning disabilities receiving special education services, 70-80% have deficits in reading.
Luckily, there is plenty of information on how to address the needs of these children. More information on strategies to help children with learning disabilities is available on LD OnLine and Reading Rockets.
My child has a learning disability and I'm concerned that the reading program her school uses is ineffective. Can you recommend a reading program?
Also, the American Federation of Teachers published a report in 1999 called Building on the Best, Learning from What Works: Five Promising Remedial Reading Intervention Programs.
Have a meeting with your child's teachers so that you can share your concerns with them. Any reading remediation that she receives should be individualized to her specific needs, because no pre-packaged programs are able to address every child’s areas of weakness, strengths, and the instructional methods with which they learn best. You and your child's teachers should work together to ensure that her specific needs are being met. This may require an IEP meeting to develop a new IEP with more skill-specific educational goals and objectives.
I have a student who has trouble blending phonemes. Any suggestions?
How do I find a tutor for my dyslexic child?
There are several national organizations that may be able help you through this process and give local professional referrals. For instance, you can contact the International Dyslexia Association, or the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA). In addition, you may wish to contact your local school district to learn of any free tutoring services offered, or a local university that may have a list of teachers who also tutor.
You may also want to ask the teachers and guidance counselor at your childs school for suggestions for a tutor, since they will be familiar with his/her specific strengths and weaknesses. Local schools often know of great tutors located in the schools neighborhood.
Lastly, be a good consumer in this process. Ask potential tutors about their experiences and what they specialize in before you choose a provider. You want to make sure that the person you choose will be a good match for your child.
My child was tested in kindergarten for dyslexia but they didn't find anything. What should I do now that he is in 3rd grade and still struggling with reading and writing?
As your child gets older, it may be increasingly difficult for him to compensate, so the gap between his ability and achievement may be widening. If your child does have a learning disability, it will be easier to detect now than when he was in kindergarten. The following articles describe characteristics common to children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. You may want to look through them to see if you recognize some of your childs challenges in these descriptions:
If you see some of these characteristics in your child, you may want to request that his school give him an educational evaluation. It is within your rights as a parent to request this free evaluation and to have a vote throughout the evaluation process.
Remember that you can be the strongest and most knowledgeable advocate for your son, so trust your instincts and dont give up! The sooner your son receives the assistance he needs and the quicker you and his teachers can work together to develop a plan for helping him at home and school, the better his outcome for truly reaching his academic potential.
My daughter just started preschool and I have noticed that sometimes she writes letters backwards. Should I be concerned?
Writing letters backwards is a normal part of developing writing skills in preschool. If you have other reasons to suspect dyslexia (like parents or relatives with dyslexia, or problems identifying sounds or learning to say the alphabet), you should continue to monitor her progress and document your observations in case you see signs of a bigger problem.
Keep practicing with her by doing fun writing activities at home, like writing a shopping list, or writing a letter to a relative. Most of her early mistakes will be part of the process of learning to write, so model the right way, but don't hold her to it too early! She is in an experimentation phase with this skill.
Is there anything I can do at home to help my dyslexic child learn to read and spell?
Even though the English language is complex, dyslexic children CAN learn phonics! They need the support of a sequential, multisensory, structured reading program, and solid reading support at home (including reading together, playing games that isolate sounds or build words, etc.).
The Reading Rockets website focuses entirely on reading and how to help kids who struggle. See, for example, the section on strategies to help kids who struggle. Also check out this page for parents, which gives you tips on what you can do at home.
And here is a link to LD Online's collection of articles on dyslexia.
If my husband is dyslexic, is there a possibility that my children will be dyslexic too?
Dyslexia is a hereditary condition, so if you have a history of dyslexia in your family, it's a good idea to get information now so that you can catch early warning signs in your own children. However, children today do not have to struggle as much with their dyslexia as the generations before them. We have a greater understanding of what it means to be dyslexic and we know which educational interventions are most effective in helping these children learn to read.
The Reading Rockets website is all about reading. Here are some articles on dyslexia that will help you identify signs and find help, so that even if your children are born with dyslexia, they will grow up to be readers!