Words are everywhere: books, signs, lists, directories, instructions! It’s is hard to image a world without words. But for the 1 in 10 people with dyslexia, reading and making meaning from these words can be incredibly difficult.
For the month of October, the world is shining a light on dyslexia. Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder in reading that is mainly due to a difficulty in processing phonological information (speech sounds) efficiently and rapidly. People with dyslexia have difficulty identifying the individual speech sounds that make up a word and find it hard to string speech sounds and their associated letter symbol together to form words.
For children, sometimes this may look like a reluctance to read, difficulty sounding out new or unfamiliar words, difficulty remembering words that have been previously taught, or spelling problems. It can also be hard for some people with dyslexia to find the meaning in the sentence or paragraph they just read as their minds are too busy decoding each of the words. Often difficulties with reading can lead to frustration and withdrawal from activities that require reading and writing.
The theme of Dyslexia Awareness Month for 2020 is resilience. Resilience refers to how well Children can learn, adapt and grow despite being faced with difficult circumstances, such as dyslexia. Educators, families and health professionals all have a role in building the resilience of struggling readers to increase opportunities for success. This can be supported through using inclusive language (e.g., instead of “can’t” using “not yet”/”learning”), and focusing on personal strengths both inside and outside school/work.
People with dyslexia may be creative, intelligent and curious. Helping them engage in their areas of interest in different ways can build self-esteem and confidence to learn. Some phenomenal people who have dyslexia include Australia writer, Jackie French; film director/producer, Steven Spielberg; and boxer and activist, Muhammad Ali!
While a diagnosis of dyslexia is often life-long, targeted intervention can go a long way in helping to overcome some of the barriers to reading and writing. To find out more information on Dyslexia, check out these amazing resources:
- Dyslexia SPELD Foundation provides advice and support to families and educators on evidence-based practice and the strategies most likely to improve literacy outcomes in children (https://dsf.net.au/)
- Dear Dyslexic is an advocacy group inspiring young individuals with dyslexia to reach their potential (https://www.deardyslexic.com/)
- Five From Five provides evidence-based information for families and educators on best practice when teaching reading skills (https://fivefromfive.com.au/parent-resources)
- Code Read is working to raise awareness of dyslexia https://codereadnetwork.org/help-is-here/resources/