Supporting Children with Dyslexia

All of us are exposed to words from a young age. We make sense of the world through reading, writing and speaking with other people. However, this may be especially difficult for children who are dyslexic. To learn how to support them, we must first know what dyslexia is.

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that causes problems with reading, spelling or writing due to difficulty matching sounds to their written forms. There are many signs and symptoms of dyslexia, and it is important to understand that these symptoms may vary among individuals with dyslexia. Some symptoms include spelling the same word in different ways, having difficulty recognising familiar words or having difficulty finding words to use when speaking.

Although dyslexia may seem like a huge inconvenience, there are many people who have managed to overcome their problems, such as Singapore’s founding prime minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and famous Hollywood actor Tom Cruise.

For parents whose children are dyslexic, below are some ways that they can help their child:

Identification and Intervention

The very first step is identification. If you suspect that your child may have dyslexia, you can seek the help of professionals at private or public clinics who will be able to assess your child’s condition. These specialists will also be able to provide recommendations on how your child can better cope with his/her condition in school and everyday life. Formal assessments can be conducted after the age of 6.

Early treatment in the form of intervention programmes can help your child to improve and perform well in school. You can find many such programmes at different organisations, which are specially designed to help children with dyslexia.

Home tips

Other than the intervention programmes, here are some tips on how you can further help your child at home.

1. Give Encouragement

Children with dyslexia may feel anxious or frustrated about their situation. Praise and encouragement will go a long way in helping these children build their self-esteem and confidence, thus improving their emotional well-being and helping them cope with their situation.

2. Read To Your Child

Find some time to read to your child every day. Reading can improve your child’s vocabulary and help them familiarise themselves with words and their pronunciations. When reading, point to the words and draw attention to multisyllabic words or words with unique spellings e.g. quay.

3. Find Topics That Interest Your Child

Find books or magazines that your child will be interested in reading. This way, they will be motivated to read more and can have fun doing so. Bring your child to the library and let him/her pick out a book with an interesting cover or read out the synopsis to your child.

4. Additional Practice

Getting more practice outside of schools and intervention programmes will help your child build stronger and faster connections between neurons in the brain, ultimately leading to an improvement in his/her performance.

For instance, look for books and even online materials that cater especially to children with dyslexia. Dyslexia-friendly books can be a great source of comfort and motivation for your child, and can help to grow their confidence in their abilities.

Dyslexia is a non-curable condition, but with early identification, proper intervention programmes and help and support from family members, your child will be able to overcome any obstacles and perform well.