Dyslexia and links to Sensory Processing Difficulties?

Is your child falling behind at school? Are they struggling with signs of dyslexia and finding learning to read and/or write is difficult? 

Did you know that signs of dyslexia are often linked to immaturities in areas of sensory processing?

Can you answer YES to any of these?

  • Easily losing their place when reading, skips lines or words
  • Signs of ADHD or Dyslexia
  • Avoids reading and written tasks
  • Watery, red eyes when trying to read
  • Eyes jump across the midline
  • Unable to visually track a moving target
  • Unable to bring eyes to converge on a single image
  • Letter reversals
  • Trouble copying from the board in a classroom
  • Covers one eye when reading
  • Short attention span
  • Distracts others
  • Excessively restless or fidgety 
  • Easily tired when reading or writing
  • Smart but frustrated by inability to keep up with their peers
  • Easily lose their place when reading
  • Quickly forget what they have read
  • Complain of headaches or blurred vision when reading

If you’ve said YES to several these, it is likely your child is struggling to process sensory information.

Dyslexia and Links to Sensory Processing 

We take information in through our senses. This information then travels along our nervous system to our brain for processing.

While all our senses work together, there are three main senses that support reading:

  • balance, 
  • listening
  • vision

Our sense of Vision helps us to maintain balance and an upright posture, and process what we are seeing. This is linked to our  sense of balance and our ability to listen, or process what we are hearing.

In the Classroom

Writing  

When learning to write, we need to be able to connect the spoken word with the written symbols. Before we can do this, we need to be able to “hear” or process the individual sounds, creating an inner awareness of sentences, words, phonics…

Reading 

 The ability to read develops from writing. We need to be able to process the visual images and connect these to the spoken word. To do this, we need good foundations in sensory processing.

Children that feel anxious or overwhelmed in the classroom will often inadvertently suppress the parts of their brain that processes speech. Feeling threatened, their behaviours become more visual, action-oriented and instinctive. You will probably notice them becoming restless and acting out, or dissociating and gazing out the window.

Children easily become frustrated when they see their friends achieving better results faster. Anxiety increases and self esteem drops, which can further disrupt learning.

As one child said “I know I’m not dumb, but why can’t I read as well as the others in my class?

Assessment for Immaturities in Sensory Processing

Preparation for reading starts in infancy. All that tummy time and early floor play is actually preparing them for learning to read. It builds the lower parts of their brains that are the foundation for later thinking and information processing.

Difficulties occur when this natural process of development has been disrupted. The solution is to go back and “fill in the gaps”, supporting your child’s lifelong learning. A simple assessment process can identify areas where your child is struggling.

This is generally followed by a comprehensive sensory-motor development program. This combines motor skills with early stages of sensory development, building the pathways in the brain to support later learning in all its forms.

We will check for:

  • Visual processing – how well can your child track a moving target, and converge their vision to focus on a single point. We also look for how well they are able to mirror an image.  
  • Listening  – how well can your child process what they are hearing? Can they block out background sounds and focus on the. teacher’s voice?
  • Sense of balance – can your child can maintain their balance when they take their eyes away from the horizon?

The Next Step

If you are concerned about your child’s learning and/or behaviour, the next step is to book an introductory parent meeting. We can have a chat about the best way to help your child achieve to their potential.

It’s also a good idea to make an appointment with a Developmental Optometrist to rule out any functional vision problems. 

No diagnosis or referral is necessary to seek help. NDIS participants are welcome. 

Read more about how a developmental program can help your child

Success Stories – Parent Testimonials and Case Studies

Articles on Listening and Auditory Processing

Family therapy

ADHD

About Rosalind

Since 2005 I have been helping children with learning and behavioural challenges such as autism, dyslexia, ADHD and other sensory processing difficulties. I use an holistic, or whole child approach combining counselling with a development movement program, known as The Extra Lesson. This program addresses underlying immaturities in early development that are contributing to their learning and behavioural challenges. Sessions are available online and at Moruya South Head.

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