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What is dyslexia and does my child have it?

Many people have heard of the term ‘dyslexia’, but it is a term that is often misunderstood. Dyslexia is  a term used to refer to a pattern of learning difficulties associated with poor reading poor spelling abilities.

How is dyslexia diagnosed?

In our Bondi Junction clinic, we use the DSM-5 description. Dyslexia is diagnosed as a specific learning disorder with impairment in reading includes possible deficits in:

  • Word reading accuracy
  • Reading rate or fluency
  • Comprehension of what you are reading

Reading is a complex, and amazing, process. There are a number of steps in the reading process, and different students can have trouble with different parts of the process.

When we learn to read, there are two different processes that we need to develop. One process is whole word reading where we learn to recognise words by looking at them. The other process is commonly known as the phonics approach, where we sounds out a word and blend it back together to work out what it says. These two pathways are referred to as the ‘dual route models of reading’.. We need to learn to use both of these processes in order to read fluently and to quickly understand what we are reading.

Non-Lexical pathway to reading (also known as phonological dyslexia)

These are the students who have difficulty with the ‘non-lexical pathway’ in reading:

  • They may find it hard to recognise the letters
  • It could be tricky to remember the sounds that go with the letters. This is usually much harder when more then one letter makes a sound eg ‘ou’, ‘igh’, ‘ough’
  • Perhaps the student can work out the sounds but they can’t blend them back together
  • Some students can do all of these things, but they can’t do it for long periods of time when they are reading

Lexical pathway to reading (also known as surface dyslexia)

These students find it harder to use the ‘lexical pathway’ in reading:

  • They try to sound words out most of the time.
  • They find it harder to recognise whole words. If they do recognise the whole word, they may not be able to match it a word they know and work out the meaning of the word. This needs to be done fairly quickly when you read.
  • Some students can read the words correctly but they have limited understanding of what they are reading.

There are some students who have difficulty with both reading pathways.

What do I do now?

Dyslexia means the student has difficulty reading. If you concerned about your child, then the next stage is an assessment. There is a significant variation between students who may have trouble reading. The research suggests that you should target the specific area of reading that is breaking down. This is why an assessment is critical. The most effective reading programs target the area of reading that is breaking down. Most importantly, they have an evidence base to the reading intervention being used.

OneOnOne Children’s Therapy uses the Sounds Write approach as the basis for our students who have not acquired the basic skills needed to become functional readers. Sounds Write reflects a contemporary approach to best practice literacy instruction as identified by international reading scientists and as reflected by the reports of the US National Reading Panel (2000), the (Australian) National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy (2005), and the (UK) Rose Report (2006).

If you are concerned about your child’s literacy then the best thing to do is to start early. Sounds Write can be used with any age group. Our Speech Pathologists can use it with children before the start school, if their early literacy skills are slower to develop. They can also use Sounds Write with high school students. Please give us a call on (02) 80657837 or email us at info@oneononechildren.com.au. Our Speech Pathologists are very happy to talk to you about as assessment and beginning the Sounds Write program

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