Dyslexia: An Introduction For Parents

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Dyslexia: An Introduction for Parents

Dyslexia or Specific Language Difficulties is a term used to describe those children and adults with average or above average intelligence who have severe difficulty in reading, writing, spelling and sometimes math. At each turn of learning the language whether it be speech, reading, spelling or writing, these individuals experience severe difficulty and require specialized teaching which is appropriate to their nature and needs, if they are to make the best use of their native intellectual ability.


  1. child in every 7 has it, to some degree, often with tragic impact on his schooling and life.
  2. Up to 3/4 of juvenile delinquents may suffer from it, and careful studies suggest that it may be one of the most potent factors behind their rebellion.
  3. It is more often found in boys than girls (3:1).


  • reading difficulty
  • persistent spelling errors (especially misspelling the same familiar word in different ways)
  • reversed or upside-down letters, or reversed sequence of letters within words
  • uncertain preference for right or left-handedness after age five or six
  • badly cramped, scrawled or illegible handwriting; confusion about left and right, up and down, tomorrow and yesterday
  • delayed mastery of spoken language, trouble finding the “right” word when talking
  • inadequacy in written composition
  • personal disorganization (losing or leaving possessions, inability to stick to simple schedules, repeatedly forgetting).

It may be due to:

  • prenatal or infant trauma
  • genetics
  • slow brain development
  • mixed dominance of the brain hemispheres

Fortunately, even the victim of severe, classic dyslexia can now learn with the proper help, how to read at a decent speed and to write legibly. The experts‟ consensus is that the best solution as of today is educational. They include:

  • careful, systematic, one-to-one tutoring on a regular basis
  • teaching the principles of phonics – the letter sounds which make up words
  • teaching how to decode the sounds for single letters and combinations of letters
  • how to fit the sounds into words

The encouraging prognosis for properly tutored dyslexics was firmly documented in a study by language consultant Margaret Byrd Rawson. She carefully followed a group of 20 boys with moderate to severe dyslexia, all of which had been given structured, multisensory language training. All but one went to college; 18 earned degrees then went on to obtain a total of 32 postgraduate degrees. Two became physicians, one a lawyer, two college professors, one a school principal, three teachers, two research scientists, three owners of businesses, three junior business executives, one an actor, one a skilled laborer and one a factory foreman. Not all properly tutored dyslexic will do so well, of course. Yet it is also clear that dyslexics no longer need to fail simply because of language problems.

How to Get Special Education Help for Your Child
The Education Act of Ontario guarantees your child‟s right to an appropriate education, regardless of any difficulties or special needs. As a parent, you have an important role as an advocate in ensuring that your child receives an appropriate education.

The Process

  • If you believe that your child would benefit from special education, write to your school principal requesting that your child be referred to an Identification, Placement and Review
    Committee (I.P.R.C). You may be requested to sign a form giving permission for a psychological assessment if one has not already been done.

  • When the case conference/school resource team is called, be sure that you attend. This is the pre I.P.R.C. discussion. Important decisions are often made prior to the I.P.R.C. Make sure that you have a copy of your school boards‟ “Parent Guide to Special Education Booklet.”
  • Prepare for the I.P.R.C. by writing down what you want. Be prepared to be an active participant. If you feel the need, take someone with you.
  • At the I.P.R.C., it will be decided whether your child is “exceptional”, i.e. has a special need, what those needs are and what placement will best meet his or her needs. There may also
    be some discussion about what special education program and/or services may be required to ensure that the placement can meet the needs of your child.

  • When the I.P.R.C. has reached a decision, you will receive a written copy of that decision. Your written consent indicating your agreement with the decision will be required. If you have
    any concerns, it is advisable not to sign the form at the I.P.R.C. Take it home with you and think about it.

Support for Social and Emotional issues of Dyslexia

  • Encouragement is essential
  • Finding an activity or talent in which the individual succeeds
  • Helping and assisting others can develop a sense of commitment and accomplishment
  • Enjoy the effort not just the accomplishment
  • Focus on encouragement more so than on corrections
  • Set realistic goals
  • Reduce anxiety and frustration through relaxation techniques such as sports, music, baths etc.

College Students and Dyslexia

  • College is a realistic goal if the student and parents begin planning early
  • the college student is responsible for self identification and self advocacy
  • while in high school, document all the accommodations received and will need in college

Adults and Dyslexia

  • it can be important and liberating to be diagnosed with LD during adulthood
  • diagnosis can specify the learning disability and direct the individual towards the appropriate strategies and treatments
  • Test and diagnosis will include: phonological awareness, single word decoding, alphabetizing, spelling, handwriting, vocabulary, comprehension, writing and other language functions

    Signs and Symptoms

    Early Signs:

    • Difficulty learning to talk
    • Difficulty listening and following directions
    • Difficulty remembering
    • Difficulty pronouncing words correctly or expressing ideas clearly

    In School:

    • Difficulty learning the alphabet
    • Difficulty sequencing letters or numbers
    • Difficulty rhyming
    • Difficulty with sequence and memory for words
    • Difficulty learning to read, write and spell
    • Uncertain preference for right or left-handedness after age five or six
    • Many cannot translate written words into sounds, or viceversa
    • Reversed or upside-down letters or reversed sequence of letters within words
      i.e.: Dog becomes god
      ‘b’ changes into ‘d’ or even as ‘p’ or ‘q’
      ‘oil’ becomes ‘710’

    More Characteristics

    • Poor pencil grip and messy handwriting
    • Poor attention and poor ability to stick with a task
    • Poor sense of time or space
    • Poor study habits and inability to complete homework
    • Poor organization and inability to keep track of possessions
    • Difficulties with arithmetic and mathematics
    • Poor concept of before and after, right and left


  • Learn to cope through various strategies
  • Need appropriate education, understanding and time
  • Hours performing oral and written drills
  • Careful, systematic long-range one to one tutoring on a regular basis on the principles of phonics
  • Need to be taught how to decode the sounds for which single letters and combination of letters stand and how to fit them together into words
  • Require specialized teaching appropriate to individual’s nature and needs
  • Multi sensory instruction, involving seeing, listening, touching and doing

    *Dyslexia cannot be outgrown*


    • Reading is only one facet…listening, writing and speaking are also important
    • Progress should be monitored
    • Parents serve as the child‟s advocate
    • Parents should learn the nature of the approach to reading and spelling
    • Practice in a way that is done at school
    • Encourage to keep a diary
    • Practice daily
    • Do not permit late assignments
    • Use visual aids, writing on the board etc.
    • Give a break from special education once in awhile
    • Keep interest in reading high
    • Make use of tapes and records
    • Allow extra time for rehearsal
    • Reading buddies build self-esteem and model good reading techniques
    • Use a green dot on the left side of the page and a red dot on the right to cue student to read left to right
    • Allow student to re-tell stories
    • Reduce distracting stimuli

    Please select this link for the original printable PDF flyer.