Dyslexia is a learning difficulty where people have problems acquiring literacy skills. It is possible that if your child has difficulty in speaking, listening, reading, writing or spelling, that they may be dyslexic. Dyslexic children will benefit from a different approach to learning and, generally, the sooner it is recognized, the sooner your family and your child's teachers can start to give support.
Lots of famous people, including Richard Branson, Winston Churchill and Agatha Christie, and other writers, musicians, actors and scientists, among others, have overcome their dyslexia - and there is no reason why your dyslexic child cannot achieve anything she wants.
What does it mean for my child?
Although a child with dyslexia may struggle with certain things at school, it doesn't mean that they have a lower intelligence. In actual fact the child could have some unusual talents and gifts. People with dyslexia have differences in the structure and function of their brain, which give them unique strengths and weaknesses. This means that, while dyslexics may have problems dealing with letters, words, numbers or musical symbols, they can also be exceptionally creative and talented in areas such as art, engineering and computing. Being diagnosed with dyslexia can be a relief for parents and children alike. As one mother said "When my son was diagnosed as being dyslexic, it gave him tremendous confidence to find out that there was some reason why he was unable to spell properly or remember things. Prior to that he thought he was stupid".
How likely is it that my child is dyslexic?
In general, 4-5% of children have severe dyslexia and around 10% show mild signs. However, dyslexia runs in families, so if someone else in your family has dyslexia, your child will be more likely to have it. Dyslexia is more common in boys.
How would I know if my child has dyslexia?
If you are concerned that your child might have signs of dyslexia you should consult your health visitor or GP. Many characteristics that children with dyslexia display can be confused with other childhood problems.
Testing for dyslexia
If you suspect that your child may have dyslexia then you should get them tested as soon as you can so that you can be in a better position to help them reach their full potential.
If your child is not yet at school, talk to your doctor or health visitor about referral to a specialist. If your child is at school, their teacher will usually be able to arrange the testing.
If your child is found to be dyslexic, there are many things that can be done to help them. Dyslexia is a learning difficulty and not a disease, so it cannot be cured but a child can be given help to manage it. Children with dyslexia benefit enormously from special educational attention. Your child will have the best chance of reaching their full potential if this special teaching is put into place as soon as possible.
Children with dyslexia rarely need to go to 'special' schools; they just need extra help within the classroom. This will mean they will need to attend special lessons at school. Extra educational help that you as a parent can provide will also be of benefit to your child. Teachers and doctors will be able to advise you on what your child's specific needs are and what you can do to help.
The most important thing is to try not to worry. Initially, it may seem to be a big problem, but many people have coped very well. Talk about your child with friends and family and you may be surprised just how many people either are dyslexic, or have a close friend or family member who is. Also, there are a number of support groups that you can talk to, who will be able to offer advice, support and information.