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Dyslexia

Hav ingdys lexiac anmake it hardtoread!

Translation: Having dyslexia can make it hard to read!

Writing that looks just fine to you might look like this to someone who has dyslexia.

By KidsHealth.org

Dyslexia (say: dis-lek-see-uh) is a learning problem some kids have with reading and writing. It can make words look jumbled. This makes it difficult for a kid to read and remember what was read.

So what’s going on inside the person’s brain? A problem occurs in the brain, but it doesn’t mean the person is dumb. Plenty of smart and talented people struggle with dyslexia.

When someone has dyslexia, sometimes the messages the brain is sending get jumbled up or confused. A kid who has dyslexia might get frustrated and find it hard to do schoolwork. But the good news is that dyslexia doesn’t need to keep a kid down.

What Is Having Dyslexia Like?

A kid who has dyslexia might start out doing fine in school. But gradually, it can become a struggle, especially when reading becomes an important part of schoolwork. A teacher might say that the kid is smart, but doesn’t seem to be able to get the hang of reading. If a teacher or parent notices this, the best thing to do is to go to a specialist who can help figure out what’s wrong.

A specialist in learning disabilities knows a lot about learning problems that kids have – and what to do about them. During a visit with a specialist, a kid might take some tests. But the idea isn’t to get a good grade; it’s to spot problems. Discovering a learning disability is the first step toward getting help that will make it easier for the kid to learn.

How Does Reading Happen?

Most kids begin learning to read by learning how each letter of the alphabet looks and sounds. Next, they start figuring out what the letters sound like when they’re put together to form words. Reading is a little like riding a bike because you have to do a bunch of things at once. It’s hard at first, but once you know how to do it, it feels easy and natural.

Reading means your eyes and brain have to do all these steps:

  1. focus on printed marks (letters and words)
  2. control eye movements across the page
  3. recognize the way letters sound
  4. understand words and grammar (the way words are put together)
  5. build images and ideas
  6. compare new ideas to what is already known
  7. store the ideas in memory

Phew! You may know that certain parts of your brain do certain jobs. For reading, you need your centers of vision, language, and memory. And you also need a network of nerve cells to connect these centers. If a kid has a problem with any of the centers – or the connections between them – reading could be difficult.

What Can a Kid Do?

Kids who have dyslexia can get help from specialists who know how to make reading easier. They might learn new ways for remembering sounds. For example, “p” and “b” are called brother sounds because they are both “lip poppers.” You have to press your lips together to make the sound. Thinking about the way the mouth needs to move to make sounds can help dyslexic kids read more easily.

Kids with dyslexia also might use flash cards or tape classroom lessons and homework assignments instead of taking notes about them. At home, kids may need to spend extra time doing homework. They may need parents or tutors to help them stay caught up. There are even special computer programs that help kids learn how to sound out words.

How Do Kids With Dyslexia Feel?

Kids who have dyslexia might get frustrated sometimes and they may not like that they are in a different reading group than their friends. But they can get help to improve their reading skills and go on to do great things in life.

Updated and reviewed by: Anne M. Meduri, MD
Date reviewed: January 2005
Originally reviewed by: Wayne Adams, PhD, and Susan B. Stine, MD