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Understanding Dyslexia in Children

Learning to read and write is not a “one-size-fits-all” process. Some children may learn best with visual aids, while others might benefit from incorporating movement. For children with dyslexia, the challenge of learning to read and write is complicated by the difficulty in processing letters. Students with dyslexia might find themselves struggling with writing assignments or reading aloud. However, with the right support and attention, children with dyslexia can thrive in their academics.  

What Causes Dyslexia? 

Dyslexia is a neurobiological condition that individuals are born with. It is often seen in families and is a common condition among both adults and children. People with dyslexia may have difficulties in school, specifically with reading and writing, but dyslexia does not indicate intellectual ability. In fact, studies have shown that individuals with dyslexia often have average or above-average intelligence and unique ways of processing information. 

What Happens in Dyslexia? 

Dyslexia is a learning disability that is characterized by difficulties with fluent and/or accurate word recognition and by poor decoding and spelling abilities (Lyon, Shaywitz, & Shaywitz, 2003). These challenges can often lead students to stumble over their words while reading aloud or struggle with identifying words. 

What are the Signs of Dyslexia? 

Having difficulty: 

  • Learning to speak

  • Rhyming

  • Pronouncing words

  • Learning the names of sounds and letters

  • Learning colors, shapes, days of the week, and numbers 

  • Fine motor skills, including handwriting 

  • Reading and spelling words in the right order

  • Identifying syllables 

  • Repetition and review skills

  • Individual or small group tutoring

  • Sight word drills

  • Reading comprehension strategies

  • Decoding skills


Older children and adults may: 

  • Be well below their expected grade level in reading and spelling 

  • Take a long time to read, write, or complete a test 

  • Avoid reading and writing when possible 

  • Have difficulty summarizing or understanding what they read

  • Struggle with learning a new language 

How is Dyslexia Diagnosed? 

Dyslexia must be diagnosed by a trained professional, such as a psychologist, who performs a comprehensive assessment. Families can reach out to school guidance counselors or pediatricians to get connected to assessment services. Most children are diagnosed with dyslexia during elementary school. However, others may not show overt signs of the disorder until they’re expected to read longer, more complex material in their teenage years. While the bulk of the assessment used to diagnose dyslexia is focused on education abilities, it may also include examining the eyes, ears, and cognitive function. 

Speech and Language Therapy Can Help 

If your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia or is showing symptoms, such as struggling with reading and writing, the experienced team at The Gillen Brewer School in New York City is here to help. We are proud to provide integrated-academic therapies that cater to each child’s specific needs and give them the tools they need to learn, grow, and thrive. 

Contact The Gillen Brewer School today to learn more about how our speech and language programs can benefit your child and family.

Image credits: Aleksandra Suzi/Shutterstock