What Parents Can Do to Help Kids Who Struggle with Reading

child-and-bookOne in five people have dyslexia, and it affects people who use both languages based on alphabets (such as English) or logographics (such as Mandarin, Korean, etc.), making it a worldwide issue. Despite its prevalence, though, dyslexia is often misunderstood by the people who have it, by the parents of kids who have it and by the teachers who teach those kids.

Over the past eight years, two companies, Dyslexie and OpenDyslexic, have designed fonts intended to help dyslexics. They include letters with heavy weighted bottoms and tails of varying lengths. The font may also space the letters a bit wider than usual.

Both fonts were created to help deal with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. According to the Mayo Clinic, those include reading below grade level, problems processing and understanding what is heard, difficulty comprehending rapid instructions, difficulty hearing or seeing similarities and differences in letters and words, inability to sound out words and difficulty spelling.

Jeannette Washington, chief executive of Bearly Articulating, a company that trains dyslexia teachers, says that dyslexia fonts “are helpful because dyslexic learners have difficulties with orientation. Subsequently, left, right, upward and down slant can cause confusion. Dyslexia fonts make it easier for students to tell the difference between a p and a q, or a b and a d.”

There is disagreement among experts, however, over how helpful these fonts are.

OpenDyslexic says, in the FAQ section of its website, that no scientific studies have been done on the dyslexic font’s effectiveness.

“We don’t know everything about how the brain works,” says Elizabeth Babbin, a reading specialist with Understood.org. “Dyslexia is not a simple problem to fix.”

So what can parents do to help children with dyslexia?

Sally E. Shaywitz, co-founder of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity advises making sure your children are screened at a young age. There are tests teachers can administer in less than five minutes.

If your child is diagnosed with reading challenges or dyslexia, Elizabeth Babbin, a reading specialist with Understood.org suggests parents work with school personnel to ensure his or her instruction is based on tested and proven models that will help with sounding out and decoding words (not just in reading class but in every subject). Understood.org provides tips on how best to work with the school system.

“Don’t put any of this off,” Shaywitz said, citing a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics that found achievement gaps for dyslexic children are already noticeable in the first grade.

Excerpted from “Beyond dyslexia fonts: What parents can do to help kids who struggle with reading” by   Read the full article here in The Washington Post.

Source: The Washington Post | Beyond dyslexia fonts: What parents can do to help kids who struggle with reading, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/10/21/beyond-dyslexia-fonts-what-parents-can-do-to-help-kids-who-struggle-with-reading | © 2016 The Washington Post

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