If your child has dyslexia, a few different treatments can improve their ability to read and write. These programs also help kids catch up to their peers in school.
The younger children are when they start treatment, the better their odds of success. But even adults with dyslexia can continue to improve their skills with the right help.
Dyslexia treatments are targeted to each person. Your child will work with one or more specialists to develop a program that meet their unique needs.
Tests for Dyslexia
To match your child with the right dyslexia program, a doctor or educational specialist will do tests to see how well they read and write.
Your pediatrician will rule out ADHD, depression, or anxiety that may affect learning. An educational psychologist will dig deeper into learning disabilities. Once you have a firm diagnosis, you can work with your child's doctor, teacher, and educational specialists to create a learning plan.
Kids with dyslexia have trouble matching letters with the sounds they make, and matching words with their meanings. They need extra help learning to read and write.
Your child can work with a reading specialist to learn how to:
- Sound out letters and words (“phonics”)
- Read faster
- Understand more of what they read
- Write more clearly
A couple of reading programs are geared toward kids with dyslexia. They are:
- Orton-Gillingham. This is a step-by-step technique that teaches kids how to match letters with sounds, and recognize letter sounds in words.
- Multisensory instruction teaches kids how to use all of their senses – touch, sight, hearing, smell, and movement – to learn new skills. For example, your child might run their finger over letters made out of sandpaper to learn how to spell.
Talk to your child's school about getting help to address their unique learning needs. The law requires schools to set up special learning plans, called Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), for kids with learning disorders like dyslexia. An IEP describes your child's needs and how the school will help meet them. You and the school will update the plan each year based on your child's progress.
Extra help for kids with dyslexia can include:
- Special education. A learning specialist or reading specialist can do one-on-one or group sessions, either in the classroom or in a separate room in the school.
- Accommodations. An IEP outlines special services your child needs to make school easier. These might include audio books, extra time to finish tests, or text-to-speech—a technology that reads words out loud from a computer or book.
School isn't the only place where your child can learn. You can also help foster reading and writing skills at home. Read with your child whenever you can. Help them sound out words they have trouble with.
These tips can help both kids and adults with dyslexia:
- Read in a quiet place with no distractions.
- Listen to books on CD or computer, and read along with the recording.
- Break up reading and other tasks into small pieces that are more manageable.
- Ask for extra help from your teacher or manager when you need it.
- Join a support group for kids or adults with dyslexia.
- Get plenty of rest and eat healthy foods.
As your child gets older, they’ll learn how to manage their dyslexia. A learning disorder shouldn’t stop them from excelling in school, going to college, or later having a successful career.