October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, a topic near and dear to my heart since many of my students are dyslexic. Students with this hereditary language processing disorder may have difficulties isolating sounds, sounding out words (decoding), and accurately reading. Spelling can even be more of a challenge making writing a frustrating process. In addition, many children with dyslexia also have difficulty with handwriting, left/right discrimination, telling time, and organizing and translating their thoughts into verbal or written language.

Children with dyslexia may have low self-esteem, become overwhelmed with school, and may withdraw. As parents, supporting your dyslexic child can lead to a plethora of emotions. You may be frustrated because you don’t know how to help or are incredibly saddened to see your child struggling and falling behind in school.

Unfortunately, many school districts don’t have the necessary funding or resources to provide support for children with dyslexia. In speaking to clients and friends whose children have been diagnosed, it occurred to me that most parents need resources and support above anything else.

A few quick tips for parents:

1. Since there are many diagnoses that can occur along with dyslexia, or be mistaken for dyslexia, it is important to have your child tested by a specialist in order to properly identify the cause of your child’s challenges and determine the best treatment options.

2. If your child is diagnosed with dyslexia, remember dyslexia has nothing to do with your child’s intelligence. It simply means that reading and writing are difficult to learn, especially through traditional teaching methods. Children with dyslexia need different strategies to learn how to read and write.

3. Inconsistent academic performance is common. It seems like one minute they “get it” and the next minute they don’t. Be patient and show your child how to do the task again. Remind your child that we all have our ups and downs, and it is part of the learning process.

4. Use “The 5-Finger Rule” to determine if the book your child is reading is an appropriate reading level. For each word your child cannot read (decode) or does not know the meaning of, have them put up one finger. If they put up more than five fingers, the book is too hard.

5. Read a variety of genres to your child, including materials that are above your child’s reading level. Stop frequently to ask your child the meaning of words, idioms, and phrases to increase their vocabulary and comprehension.

6. Take time to celebrate your child’s successes. First, recognize that the task may not have been easy. Second, acknowledge the effort put into completing the task. Lastly, provide specific praise for what your child did well.

7. Provide opportunities to nurture your child’s cognitive strengths. Dyslexia is highly correlated with numerous positive traits including curiosity, imagination, creativity, strong visual-spatial skills, excellent verbal skills, the ability to see “the big picture,” and think outside the box.

Additionally, the following resources, many of which are local to Boulder, CO, are recommended based on research, recommendations, and continuing education. There are also many private practitioners that I refer clients to based on their individual needs.  Please contact me if you would like recommendations.  I hope you find the below helpful in supporting your child.

Local Resources:
Literacy Now
Dyslexia Resource Group
IDA-Rocky Mountain Branch
Western Institute for Neurodevelopmental Studies and Interventions
Hillside School
Learning Pathways Colorado
Boulder Valley KID

Local Meet up:
Boulder Dyslexia and Learning Differences Meetup

Apps/Website Tools:
Letter Reflex
Dyslexia Quest
StoryLine Online
Kidspiration and Inspiration
Word Central

Informational Websites:
Dyslexia Resource Group
The International Dyslexia Association
Read Write Think
Yale Center for Dyslexia

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Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers a broad range of pediatric occupational therapy services to help your child master age-appropriate developmental skills, become more independent, increase academic success & develop confidence. The experts at Skills 4 Life specialize in handwriting, keyboarding & executive function coaching, but also work with children on social & emotional learning, motor skills, self-regulation strategies & activities of daily living. Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers your child a safe, compassionate environment to learn the critical skills they need to be successful. Learn more about our team & services at www.skills4lifeot.com, or you can contact our office by email at karina@skills4lifeot.com or by phone at 303.351.1828 for a free consultation.