Learning to read seems simple enough. After all, how hard can it be to interpret those symbols on the page? For many, however, classroom reading instruction is the beginning of a lifetime of struggle, embarrassment, shame and poor self esteem. Children who struggle to learn to read often have signs of dyslexia.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a term generally applied to anyone who struggles with learning to read. The common definition describes a person with reading difficulties, despite having normal intelligence, and participating in standard classroom reading instruction. A person with dyslexia may also have difficulties with fine motor skills, maths, spelling, memory, organisational skills, study skills, self esteem and activities in everyday life.
Reading is more than simply something that happens in the brain. It is also connected to the senses of balance, vision and hearing, as well as muscle tone.
Intense tutoring and more instruction does not always help. Often, the issue is deeper than this and the classroom struggles that we see are really only the tip of the iceberg.
How Does Dyslexia Happen?
Many children described as being dyslexic have signs of developmental delay in a number of areas. Stress or overwhelm in infancy or early childhood can affect a child’s ability to learn.
An assessment can offer a window into your child’s world, identifying areas of need. Once we can see what is happening for your child, we can start to address the underlying issues. This will generally involve a program of sensory motor development and integration to address developmental stages that were missed or incomplete in their early years.
Reading ability is built on a strong foundation of early sensory and motor skills. Being able to sit still, and pay attention makes learning to read so much easier. Other skills that can help your child’s reading readiness include:
- A well-developed sense of balance makes it easier for your child to take their focus away from the horizon. Then they can move their eyes together across the page, without feeling seasick.
- Both eyes need to be able to work together, moving smoothly across the page, as well as being able to converge and focus on a single point
- Each eye picks up slightly different images, and the brain has to put this information together and make it meaningful
- Your child needs good listening skills to be able to “hear” and process the sounds of the letter combinations
- Good posture means your child can sit comfortably without moving or wriggling, and helps them to concentrate
- Auditory memory will help your child link together series of sounds that form words
What you can do to Help your Child
The good news is that addressing these underlying gaps can help your child in many ways beyond just reading and writing. Without the frustration of trying to keep up, they are able to relax, making friends more easily, and having fewer meltdowns.
I offer a non-invasive, drug free approach to supporting your child’s learning and behaviour. During the last 15 years I have seen many success stories, happy children and happy parents. Before starting with me, Bobby was disorganised in class, behind with reading, and often getting onto trouble. Following a program of sensory motor development and integration, his teacher reported that he was more organised, was able to get on with his work. His parents noticed that
“not only was he no longer being bullied, but after 14 months, Bobby’s reading had improved by three years”.
Bobby felt he was now reading better than many of the other children in his class. This and other success stories are available as Case Studies and Testimonials for you to read.
Children develop in natural, pre-determined stages. Each new stage is built on the foundations of the earlier ones, a bit like building blocks. When one stage has been missed or is incomplete, the “stack” becomes unsteady, and your child will likely struggle to learn. Some of these early stages of development happen during floor play and tummy time.
This is when your child is building the muscles necessary for being able to sit in the classroom and learn. They are also developing the hand-eye coordination they will need to be able to hold a pencil and write. At the same time their eyes and ears are learning to work together to develop their sense of balance, so they can sit still and concentrate.
We can help your child by addressing the immaturities, or filling in the gaps. The aim is to build the foundations for later learning in all areas – social, emotional, behavioural, physical, as well as in the classroom.