The SEND code of practise 2015 states that "Specific learning difficulties (SpLD) affects 1 or more specific aspects of learning". This is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of learning differences. These include dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.
Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that affects approximately 1 in 10 people in the UK. The symptoms can be mild or severe and vary from person to person.
Dyslexia commonly impacts spelling, reading and writing. It has no impact on intelligence.
In a non-dyslexic brain 3 areas are used when we read. One will read the word, another will memorize it and it's usage and the third will analyse it. This means that every time a non-dyslexic brain access new language we are automatically categorizing it and storing it for future use. You can see how this would make it easier to read next time. In a dyslexic brain only the first part is used and in fact overused in order to compensate. You can see in this image what this looks like by comparing the areas activated in two brains when reading.
Dyslexia is lifelong and can present challenges but can be supported and managed with some small adjustments. Support is available at school to improve reading and writing skills to enable for success for all learners.
These are some of the things that may be suggested if there are concerns over dyslexia and your child. It is important to note that these strategies can help all children and may be useful even if there are no indicators of dyslexia.
These are just a selection of things that may support a child with dyslexia although every child is different and would receive a more tailored package to suit their specific needs.
There is a large variety of activities that can be done at home to support your child with dyslexia. Here is a list split into the different areas of need.
Fine motor to support writing:
Start with shorter words that are easier to pronounce and try to make activity as fun as possible. Make it multisensory, colourful, engaging! You can do this by writing in the sand, cutting out the letters from paper or cardboard or making them out of clay or playdough. Putting letters on pebbles, bottle tops or Duplo Bricks is another thing you can do to make them more fun to combine.
By helping your child “build” simple words, you are not only helping them learn how to spell words, but also how to recognize the similarities between how they are pronounced. With that, you are also helping with phonological awareness. Emphasize the length of different vowels. Model proper pronunciation.
Working memory allows us to hold on to and manipulate information that we have in our short-term memory. Children with dyslexia usually have deficits in their working memory, which makes it hard to retain the image of letters, match them with sounds and perform the task of pronouncing or reading the word out loud.
Activities such as riddles, solving logic problems, playing board games, listening actively to stories and retelling them, and doing a task that involves giving or following instructions (such as building, creating or cooking something) are just some of the activities that can help with boosting the capacity of your child’s working memory.
Activities that involve organisation and planning:
Being able to organize the activity at hand is one of the most important skills children need.
Try involving them in the activities around the house. Sorting laundry or dishes, organising toys or setting the table for dinner are some of the everyday activities that involve the mental processes of planning.
If you would like to have your child work on these skills through pen and paper exercises or online activities, pick those games that involve identifying the missing piece, a piece that does not belong in a group, putting together a puzzle or reorganizing the steps in a process.
Helping your child improve their visual processing can help them learn, and identify and spell letters more easily. Exercises for visual processing can sharpen their skills in processing the differences between objects that look alike.
Examples of such activities are: