“Dealing with Dyslexia,” Ensign, Jan. 1986, 64–65
A college graduate leaves her scriptures at home, afraid she will be called upon to read in Sunday School. A first-grader with the highest IQ in the class sits in the lowest reading group. What do they have in common? Dyslexia—a condition of the central nervous system that can make written and spoken language a nightmare of confusion.
If your child has dyslexia, he may reverse or invert letters, words, or numerals when he reads or writes. As he speaks, he may transpose sounds and say “shiplofting” when he means “shoplifting.” As he listens to others speak, he may also confuse the order of syllables, words, and numbers he hears. He may find handwriting to be extremely difficult.
Some people wrongly confuse dyslexia with a low degree of intelligence. Many dyslexic children are exceptionally bright, but their difficulties with language may make them low achievers in some areas. Parents who educate themselves about the problem are more apt to be patient and understanding with their child. Education can also help parents avoid unnecessarily expensive, ineffective measures that promise quick and easy solutions.
What Can Parents Do to Help?
The prognosis depends on how soon educational therapy begins and how effective it is. The longer a child fails, the more emotional damage he will sustain.
Work closely with your child’s teachers to make sure his learning needs are being met.
Help your child establish good study habits. He needs a quiet place to study where he can work at the same time each day. He will have to study harder than other children. Help him understand that while you can help him in some areas, he must make the major effort himself.
Create Positive Learning Experiences
Help your child to have positive experiences with language. Fill your home with interesting books and magazines. (Large type is easier for him to read.) Take turns reading a sentence, paragraph, or page, ask questions about the reading to find out if he remembers the sequence of events. Let him lay his hand or a card beneath the line he is reading. Give him time to “sound out” words, but don’t let him struggle unduly. Keep him moving through the book, and recognize when it’s time to stop. If reading is not rewarding, he won’t want to do it again. Above all, make reading enjoyable! All educational experiences need not involve the formal classroom. Expose him to museums, nature, concerts, and educational television. Include him, if possible, in your hobby. Build a relationship in which you spend time talking together. If something he says doesn’t make sense, don’t criticize or ridicule. Ask him to think about what he just said. After Church, ask him to tell you the main idea of one talk or lesson.
If your child fails to master language skills that his peers grasp with seeming ease, he may feel inadequate. Learning to cope emotionally and to compensate for deficits is crucial for dyslexic children. Help him identify the things he does best, and build him up. Perhaps he’s a good listener, artist, or bike repairman. Praise him for these things. Teach the value of good character traits, too. Everything worthwhile is not measured by test scores.
Above all, keep things in perspective. Teach him to laugh at his mistakes rather than to worry about them. As he learns to overcome this handicap, he will be better able to confront other challenges in his life.
For more information, contact the Orton Society, 724 York Road, Dept. PRT, Baltimore, MD 21204. Donna Leishman Morgan, Hanford, California