Language-based learning difficulties can affect up to 20% of the population, with dyslexia being the most common type. People with dyslexia often have difficulty translating ideas into written language and likely have trouble decoding (understanding) written language.
Research has shown that most children who struggle with reading in 3rd grade remain poor readers even in high school. This suggests that early intervention, as with all aspects of childhood language difficulties, is key. If these children receive intervention before the critical “learning to read” period (kindergarten through 3rd grade) changes to “reading to learn” in fourth grade, they are more likely to become successful readers.
Common Characteristics of Untreated Dyslexia:
- Difficulty with planning and organizing, often spending more time on homework than necessary
- Trouble with storytelling or finding the “right” words when writing or speaking
- Avoidance of reading, reading below grade level
- Difficulty with saying the alphabet, naming letters, and numerous spelling errors
- Trouble with language comprehension and some difficulty with spoken language
- Difficulty decoding (reading) words and sentences, slow when writing and reading
These characteristics highlight the importance of intervention. Due to the broad-reaching grasp that dyslexia can have on a child’s academic performance, intervening before the critical period ends (kindergarten through third grade) is imperative. Children struggling with dyslexia often have average intelligence, so parents may not realize that an underlying disorder is to blame for trouble at school. When a gap exists between a child’s performance and their overall potential, dyslexia may be the reason.
Children can be evaluated for reading disorders by neuropsychologists, school psychologists, and some reading specialists. If ongoing therapy is warranted, parents may choose to seek out the assistance of a licensed speech-language pathologist, as dyslexia is a language disorder impacting the reading/writing/spoken language realms.