Erin Paske is the founder and owner of Nashville Dyslexia Center. Here, she explains some of the symptoms of the condition and how you can help those with it.
Even though I was a certified teacher at an academically rigorous private school, I failed my student. He had all the signs of dyslexia, but I didn’t know them. Slow, inaccurate reading. Spelling so terrible that he couldn’t read his work. Messy handwriting. Trouble remembering the multiplication facts and sight words.
I kept him in from recess, gave him more time on his assignments. Told him to try harder. He tried harder, but his struggles didn’t get any easier. He eventually left that private school to seek help elsewhere. That began my journey to find out how to help struggling readers.
Fast forward 10 years, and I am now the founder and owner of Nashville Dyslexia Center (NDC), a mobile tutoring service for teaching dyslexics how to read, spell, and write. I’m on a mission to help the dyslexic students in Nashville, but the mission starts with educating the public about dyslexia. Many myths linger – dyslexia is seeing words backwards, dyslexia is rare, students with dyslexia cannot learn to read, or dyslexics will grow out of their reading problems. Let’s set the record straight.
In short, dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in learning how to read and spell. Dyslexia is a brain difference. A dyslexic’s left hemisphere is the same size as a non-dyslexics, but the right hemisphere is 10% larger. This may be why a dyslexic is not bad at everything. Dyslexics have weaknesses when it comes to language processing, but they may be extremely talented or gifted in other areas such as athletics, the fine arts, or interpersonal skills. Dyslexia does not go away.
Dyslexia affects directionality. Left versus right, before, after, next, previous, time, and the letters “b,” “p,” and “d” are confusing. Dyslexia makes it difficult to memorize sequences such as the alphabet or days of the week and rote facts like multiplication facts. Reading issues tend to surface in second and third grade, but the signs can be observed in pre-school age children. (See a more comprehensive list of signs of dyslexia on the NDC website.
Your child does not need a diagnosis of dyslexia to receive help. The more signs you see, the more confident you can be that dyslexia tutoring is the right next step. Dyslexics need to be taught to read and spell with a certain kind of program; not every phonics program will work, even if it’s recommended by the school district. It is important to identify children early and begin dyslexia tutoring right away as it may take 4-5 times as long to help an older child.
If your child doesn’t have the signs of dyslexia, chances are you know a child who does. Dyslexia affects 1 in 5. What should you do if you suspect dyslexia? Call me. I’ll do a free screening to see if your child could benefit from dyslexia tutoring. Attend one of our free talks to learn more (see the NDC website for details) and bring a friend!