What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a language processing disorder that impacts a child’s ability to read and can also affect speech and written expression (which can also be diagnosed as dysgraphia), or even trouble with mathematics (sometimes diagnosed as dyscalculia).

A common misconception is that dyslexia causes children to reverse letters and numbers or even see them backwards. But this is not actually the case. The true obstacle for a child with dyslexia is recognizing basic letter sounds and associating them with a symbol, in this case, a letter. This leads to trouble sounding out words and blending letter sounds together to make words when reading.

A child with dyslexia often possesses average to above-average intelligence, so the struggle is not caused by a child’s lack of motivation or capacity to learn. A dyslexic child uses different parts of the brain to read, leading to less efficient information processing. The amount of time and effort it takes for a child with dyslexia to read can distract a child’s attention away from recognizing and remembering word meaning and spelling and can result in inadequate reading comprehension overall.

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How Do They Test for Dyslexia?

For older children and teens, it is often a teacher or parent who first notices symptoms. These can include poor reading comprehension, writing, and spelling skills, as well as taking longer than necessary to complete assignments.

Teachers can recommend your child for evaluation by the school’s child study team. The child study team may recommend evaluation by an educational psychologist or neurologist, physicians who specialize in language processing disorders. You can also advocate for your child by going directly to your pediatrician with your concerns.

Evaluation for dyslexia often includes testing your child’s vision and hearing to rule out any physical conditions that may be impeding your child’s ability to read well. A school psychologist or other learning specialist may also administer tests that assess reading, spelling, writing and language skills, as well as intellectual ability.

Management: What You Can Do to Help Your Child

Although dyslexia isn’t something you can “cure” or outgrow, children can find different ways to overcome the disorder by learning new strategies to read. Children can take those skills with them throughout their academic careers and the rest of their lives. In fact, children with dyslexia aren’t limited academically or when choosing a career path as they grow older. Most colleges and universities offer dyslexic students many of the same accommodations as public elementary and high schools do. (See below)

School Accommodations:  A child with Dyslexia has the legal right to educational accommodations under a 504 Plan or, for children who qualify for special education services, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Below is a list of some classroom accommodations that help provide educational equity in the classroom:

  • Working with a Trained Reading Specialist to Learn New Reading Strategies
  • Recording Lessons for Later Use or Providing Notes Outlining Important Points in Lessons
  • Providing Recorded Versions of Books or “Read Aloud” Software (reads printed texts aloud for your child)

Interventions at Home:

  • Understand Dyslexia is a Disorder. Recognize that children with dyslexia aren’t unintelligent or lazy, and they are trying the best they can.
  • Provide Emotional Support. Be sure your child understands that dyslexia is a disorder that has nothing to do with their intelligence or desire to do well in school. Dyslexia can cause a child to feel inadequate or frustrated, so be sure to listen and validate your child’s feelings, while reinforcing all of the other wonderful skills your child possesses, like artistic talent, athletic ability, or simply being kind.
  • Hire a One-to-One Tutor. TestingMom.com offers experienced tutors and teachers who can meet with your child regularly to help with school assignments and provide reading instruction geared to your child’s specific needs. Small group classes taught by reading specialists are also available through the website.  Contact Testing Mom today! Call (813) 544-3833 or Email tutoring@testingmom.com.
  • Join TestingMom.com today and use our Skill Building Academy to support your child’s reading skills. As part of your membership, your child will have access to Reading Kingdom (pre-K – 4th grade reading instruction), Story Smarts (K – 4th grade reading comprehension), Scholastic Core Clicks (K – 5th grade reading comprehension) and more! We also have webinars on teaching reading to children, helping children with reading problems or dyslexia and teaching reading comprehension.


Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) website for more information about dyslexia and other learning disorders, as well as helpful resources for parents: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/learning-disorder.html

Some information contained here was sourced from the Nemours Children’s Health website as well as the CDC:

Nemours Children’s Health (2022). Understanding Dyslexia. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/dyslexia.html

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Child Development-Specific Disorders (2022). Learning Disorders in Children. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/learning-disorder.html

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