Peter works so hard at reading, but it just never gets easier. He knows he's smart so why can't he read like the other kids? Peter has a problem called dyslexia.
Dyslexia (say: dis-LEK-see-uh) is a learning problem some kids have. Dyslexia makes it tough to read and spell. The problem is inside the brain, but it doesn't mean the person is dumb. Plenty of smart and talented people struggle with dyslexia.
But dyslexia doesn't have to keep a kid down. With some help and a lot of hard work, a kid who has dyslexia can learn to read and spell.
To understand dyslexia, it helps to understand reading. Reading is a real workout for your brain. You need to do the following steps — and all at once:
Phew! Kids who have dyslexia struggle with the beginning steps, so that makes doing the rest of the steps even harder. It's no surprise, then, that trying to read and dealing with dyslexia makes a kid's brain really tired really fast.
Most kids start learning to read by learning how speech sounds make up words. Then they connect those sounds to alphabet letters. For example, they learn that the letter "b" makes a "buh" sound.
Then kids learn to blend those sounds into words. They learn that "b" and "at" makes "bat." Eventually, most kids don't have to sound words out and can instantly recognize words they've seen many times before.
But it's tougher for kids who have dyslexia. They may struggle to remember simple words they have seen many times and to sound out longer words. Why is it so hard?
Dyslexia means that a person's brain has trouble processing letters and sounds. That makes it tough to break words into separate speech sounds, like b-a-t for bat. When it's hard to do that, it's really hard to connect speech sounds to different letters, like "buh" for b, and blend them into words.
So a kid who has dyslexia will read slowly and might make a lot of mistakes. Sometimes he or she will mix up letters in a word, such as reading the word "was" as "saw." Words may blend together wrong and look like this:
Even before kindergarten, a kid who has dyslexia usually has trouble with letters and sounds. Later, a teacher might say that the kid is smart, but doesn't seem to be getting the hang of reading. Other times, it's a parent who notices the kid is struggling. The best thing to do is to go to a specialist who can help figure out what's wrong.
A specialist in learning disabilities knows a lot about learning problems that kids have and what to do about them. During a visit with a specialist, a kid might take some tests. But the idea isn't to get a good grade; it's to spot problems. Discovering a learning disability is the first step toward getting help that will make it easier for the kid to learn.
Most kids with dyslexia can learn to read with the right kind of teaching. They might learn new ways for remembering sounds. For example, "p" and "b" are called brother sounds because they're both "lip poppers." You have to press your lips together to make the sound.
Thinking about the way the mouth needs to move to make sounds can help kids read more easily. Learning specialists know lots of special activities like this to teach reading to kids who have dyslexia.
Kids with dyslexia also might use flash cards or tape classroom lessons and homework assignments instead of taking notes about them. They may need parents and tutors to help them stay caught up.
Extra time for tests is really important, so kids with dyslexia have enough time to finish and show their teacher how much they have learned. Computers help a lot, too. You can get programs that "read" books out loud from the computer or even download recorded books to an iPod!
Kids who have dyslexia might get frustrated, angry, or sad because reading and spelling are so hard. They may not like being in a different reading group than their friends or having to see a special reading tutor.
But getting this help is so important and will help them go on to do great things in life. Some of the most creative and successful people have dyslexia, but it didn't stop them from chasing their dreams!
Reviewed by: Laura L. Bailet, PhD
Date reviewed: June 2015
|International Dyslexia Association (IDA) IDA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study and treatment of dyslexia.|
|Learning Disabilities Association of America The purpose of this national nonprofit organization is to advance the education and general welfare of children and adults of normal or potentially normal intelligence who manifest disabilities of a perceptual, conceptual, or coordinative nature.|
|National Center for Learning Disabilities This group provides information, resources, and referral services, develops and supports innovative educational programs, seminars, and workshops, and advocates for more effective policies and legislation to help individuals with learning disabilities. Contact them at: National Center for Learning Disablities|
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|Nemours BrightStart! This literacy program prepares young children to read. Take the reading readiness screener to see if your preschooler's pre-reading skills are on track. Get tips and ideas for reading aloud, and learn about games, songs, and other tools that can help your child on the path to success.|
|What Is Hyperactivity? Some kids have ADHD. This disorder makes it hard for a kid to pay attention. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|What to Do if You Don't Like School Everyone has a bad day at school once in a while, but some kids really don't like school. Read this article for kids to find out more.|
|How to Pick a Great Book to Read If you find yourself overwhelmed when choosing a book, check out these 5 simple steps to picking a book you'll like.|
|Learning Problems Having a learning disability doesn't mean you can't learn. The trick will be figuring out how you learn best.|
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