Frequently Asked Questions About Children's Dyslexia

What is Dyslexia?

How do I get my child diagnosed?

What causes dyslexia?

Does my child need a diagnosis? 

Will my child always struggle to read and write?

At what age can dyslexia be diagnosed? 

Helping Children with Dyslexia

Literacy weaknesses or dyslexia are targeted with the same method.

The difference is dyslexic issues may need more structure and repetition.

It is essential to first understand the causes of the literacy difficulties that your child is experiencing or what knowledge they lack. Typically sounds are taught carefully and with high levels of structure, one sound or one sound group at a time, rather than exposing your child to various sounds which can be distressing and confusing.

Once your child knows the sounds they can be introduced into words and finally sentences.

If your child knows some sounds, then gaps will be carefully filled to ensure they understand the essential sounds to be able to read and spell. Precious resources should not be used to teach skills your child already has as this can cause frustration.

As your child is taught, they will use multiple senses to support their learning. These different senses are visual auditory and kinaesthetic (feeling) and provide children with different ways to remember the concepts.

Associated difficulties must also be understood and targeted. These associated difficulties can slow learning of literacy or contribute to your child’s reading difficulties.

Repetition is one of the most important factors. Some children will need to be exposed to a basic sound 10, 50 or even 100 times before it is learnt and becomes automatic.

Types of Children's Dyslexia

When researching children's dyslexia it can be confusing and potentially frightening. The aim is to explain the types simply for you.

Dyslexia can result in mistakes when reading out words which slows the pace of reading and reduces fluency. Children will then often have difficulty understanding what they have read and don’t enjoy reading.

A child of average or superior intelligence can be diagnosed with dyslexia.

There are two main types:

  • Phonological Dyslexia
  • Surface Dyslexia

Phonological Dyslexia

This type of dyslexia is most common and is typically what people are referring to when discussing dyslexia.

Phonological dyslexia means that children have difficulty with sounds. Sounds are throughout spoken language and while a child may have learnt them when someone is speaking or they are speaking, difficulties occur when they are in print and words. As children with dyslexia are learning sounds, they have difficulty perceiving and remembering them. As a result, children may take a long time learning their first sounds or putting the sounds together when reading or spelling words.

Surface Dyslexia

Children will have difficulty remembering whole words that are irregular. When an irregular word such as ‘what’ is presented they will try to sound it out. Some scientists consider they struggle to form or recall the word from their visual memory.

Children can have both types of dyslexia and this is not unusual.

  • Concentration
  • Memory for sounds and recent events
  • Confusion of words and ordering ideas when speaking
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Concentration
  • Memory for sounds and recent events
  • Confusion of words and ordering ideas when speaking
  • Difficulty following instructions

Process for Assessment and Treatment of Childhood Dyslexia

Step 1: You will be asked to complete a history form. This form will ask you as a parent to share your observations related to your child’s literacy. There will be a checklist, which will include numerous reading behaviours such as the following:

  • Gaps in sound knowledge.
  • Withdrawing from reading, writing or spelling.
  • Skipping, adding or changing sounds when reading.

Step 2: During the assessment John will review your child’s history form to discuss what assessment he is proposing. Your child can be a part of this process if appropriate or younger children can relax in the waiting room.

Step 3: After this John will carry out the assessment with your child where he will consider the following areas:

  • All sound areas will be checked to ensure your child knows their sounds. This includes consonants, basic vowels (a e i o u), digraphs (sh ch th) and more complex vowels such as er, ar, ou, oa.
  • Can these sounds be spelt in words?
  • Ability to perceive/listen for sounds when spelling words eg. the /L/ sound in belt or the /P/sound in spot.
  • General ability to listen for sounds and hear the difference between sounds.
  • Observation of concentration skills.
  • Observation of recent memory for events and ability to follow instructions and comprehend conversation.

Step 4: All results will be discussed and explained with parents and your child where appropriate.

Step 5: A support and treatment plan will be discussed.

In Conclusion

While not all children who have reading and spelling difficulties have dyslexia, it is important for children with literacy weaknesses to have a more structured approach.Children with dyslexia will need more structure and more support to learn the sounds and English rules that support reading skills.If your child is approaching the end of year 1 and you are worried their literacy is not progressing, or their teacher keeps raising concerns, please seek support.

John Saunders Children's Learning & Literacy works with children aged between 5 to 18 years.

Office Location

Trading as:
John Saunders
Learning & Literacy

2/554a High St

Prahran, VIC 3181