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Learning Challenges

Learning Challenges

What can you do if you think your child has dyslexia? What learning support is available for you as a parent and your child as a student? We uncover all you need to know to ensure your child gets the hands-on help they need.

10% of the world’s population have been diagnosed with dyslexia, and 4% of sufferers are described as ‘severely’ affected by the learning disability. Dyslexia is a lifelong issue that affects the ability to develop in reading, writing and spelling and is usually first noticed when a child requiring extra help goes to school.

But, that doesn’t mean that a dyslexia diagnosis will hold them back – in fact, there’s plenty of entrepreneurs, leading business figures and creatives that have proved the opposite. From Steve Jobs to Jamie Oliver, Pablo Picasso to Richard Branson, sufferers have shown over and over again that they can thrive – regardless of any difficulties they face while learning.

Dyslexia symptoms
The symptoms and severity of dyslexia can vary from child to child. Some parents can detect difficulties experienced by their child before they go to school.

  • Parents notice any speech issues (such as jumbling up words or not being able to pronounce longer words), witness problems with them trying to express themselves and struggling with getting to grips with the alphabet. However, many of the symptoms aren’t fully recognised until a child goes to school.
  • Indications of Dyslexia in school-aged children include difficulty learning the names and sounds of words, inconsistent spellings, mixing up letters and numbers (and often writing them the wrong way around).
    They may also be unable able to order letters in words correctly, have difficulty reading aloud, complain about seeing ‘blurry’ letters, be slow at writing, experience difficulty remembering and carrying out multiple tasks given or understanding questions but not being able to formulate a written answer easily.
  • Most dyslexic children can find themselves confused when faced with words that look similar but have different meanings – for example ‘cat’ and ‘cot’. They may not see a difference between the two and be unable to understand how to sound a change, should a suggestion be made to change the ‘C’ to an ‘H’, for instance, to become ‘hat’ and ‘hot’. This is called phonological awareness.

Getting help
Getting a diagnosis as soon as possible will prevent further learning frustrations and tears. If you have any concerns, the best person to chat to is your child’s teacher, as they’ll be able to advise if they have noticed any abnormalities with their development. From there, a visit to your GP with your child should be scheduled. This will give your doctor the opportunity to check for underlying issues that could be affecting their learning, such as problems with hearing or vision.

Should these issues be ruled out, your doctor may suggest using different learning methods or for your child to receive help from a specialist classroom assistant. A further assessment for
learning difficulties can be requested (either by you or the doctor) to thoroughly investigate the root of the issues being experienced.

Then, once a diagnosis has been made, organisations such as the British Dyslexia Association can offer additional advice and assistance – along with your child’s school.

For more information on dyslexia visit: www.bdadyslexia.org.uk.

By Shelley Welti

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