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Does my child have dyslexia?

by Jeannie Brown

Does my child have dyslexia?

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines dyslexia as: ‘a difficulty with reading and writing often including a person’s inability to see the difference between some letter shapes.’

Now we all know someone who likes to formally announce (through a megaphone or town crier) the achievements of their child and the early milestones that they are hitting in terms of their academic ability or in fact any form of ability at all. Waiting outside antenatal groups and school gates pose the greatest threat to hearing these types of conversations…you start to hear the faint ‘duh-dun’ of the Jaws theme tune before you are suddenly surrounded:

‘Little Jimmy can already sit up on his own’ ‘duh-dun’ ‘Charlotte is starting to crawl’ ‘dun-dun’ ‘Maggie can spell her own name now’ ‘dun-dun-dun-dun’ ‘Emily can recite her ABC’s without any help’ ‘dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun’ and with an eye involuntarily twitching you hear that: ‘David can do a one handed backflip into the splits whilst juggling several knives that have been lit on fire.’ ‘DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN!’ You’re a floundering seal.

Staring down at your own child who stares back at you with blinking blue eyes, they smile and take your hand…asking for a biscuit. Without question they are the greatest thing to walk this Earth. Nobody else could compare. You are however starting to feel concerned about their reading ability…you love to read and want your child to feel the joy that you have always felt reading story after story. So, what are the signs that your child might have a specific language-based learning disability like dyslexia rather than just hitting new learning milestones in their own time?

What to look out for:

The NHS website has a long list of signs for you to look out for if you think that your child is dyslexic and may need extra support on their reading journey. This list includes:

What should you do?

If you think your child is showing similar signs of dyslexia, as listed above, then there are lots of avenues of support open to them which can help them progress with their reading and spelling. However, it can feel difficult to know where to start and who to specifically ask for help from.

Firstly, you could try to open a conversation with your child’s teacher and express why you think your child might be dyslexic. Ask them how your child is performing at school in terms of their reading and writing ability. Their teacher may be able to give you some insight into what level children at this age should ideally be working towards. If their teacher is concerned then you could also visit your GP to check that there are no underlying health conditions that may be affecting your child’s learning ability. This could include hearing or visual issues.

Additionally, if your initial conversation with your child’s teacher leads you to further believe that your child might be dyslexic and any further support your child has been given is not working, you can ask your child’s school to help you refer them to a dyslexia specialist or educational phycologist for assessment. You can also book this independently through: The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) if you live in Britain or another qualified body in this field.  

The assessment:

Usually, an assessment like this is held in a private and quiet space to help your child concentrate. They may be asked to read aloud, recall information on something they’ve just read, their spelling ability may be tested as well as their handwriting skills and phonological awareness. It’s important to remember that your child cannot ‘fail’ a test like this even though such a thorough assessment can feel a little daunting! However, through this assessment you’ll be able to better understand how your child’s mind works and how you and their school can best support them. The assessment will help you to formally identify what their strengths and weaknesses are, as they are tested through a range of learning exercises, if indeed your child is dyslexic.

What support is available?

Fortunately there is lots of support available for your child if you are told that they are dyslexic. This additional support can include:

There are also lots of online support groups that you can look on as a parent, to communicate with other parents who are undergoing the same process as you and your family. These groups can sometimes help you to gain more ideas on how to help your child and the different techniques that can be used to guide children with dyslexia.

Sometimes dyslexia is not identified until later in life, the NHS website also details the signs to look out for in teenagers and adults too:

If you identify with any of the things listed above you could be dyslexic and should organise an assessment as you can be given extra support to help you at work.

Famous people with dyslexia:

Albert Einstein

A man who is perhaps the most well-known physicist in history, he devised the theory of relativity which increased our understanding of gravity and the universe in general. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921. It has been suggested that he had dyslexia.

Whoopi Goldberg

Goldberg has won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in her role in Ghost, a Golden Globe for her role in The Colour Purple, she won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album for her Broadway show, she won a Tony award for her work in Thoroughly Modern Millie and she has also won an Emmy!

Orlando Bloom

Famous actor Orlando Bloom has detailed his struggle with reading and writing at school but he has not let this hold him back. He has played many much loved characters such as ‘Legolas’ in The Lord of the Rings and ‘Will Turner’ in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Holly Willoughby

Adored British television presenter Holly Willoughby is known for her presenting roles on This Morning since 2009 and other presenting appearances on TV such as Surprise Surprise, The Voice UK, I’m A Celebrity…Get me Out of Here! and Text Santa. She is known to have dyslexia.

Stay tuned as we have some dyslexia friendly books coming soon! In the meantime, browse some of our books below, we have a range of books for different ages and abilities!: