Dyslexia: More Than Mixing Up Letters

Enrichment Therapies

October 4, 2018

Is dyslexia just mixing up b’s and d’s? Is dyslexia reading or writing a word backward? Though these are often signs of dyslexia, dyslexia is SO MUCH MORE!

Do you feel like your child is struggling, but you don’t know why? Is dyslexia something that has crossed your mind, but you weren’t really sure what it meant? October is dyslexia awareness month. While dyslexia can be scary at first, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Let’s talk about what dyslexia is, how it can be evaluated, and how we can help your child succeed!

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a type of reading disorder that affects a child’s ability to read fluently.  Students with dyslexia often struggle to identify the sounds for a particular letter or segment a group of letters. This affects their ability to read words and paragraphs fluently, spell words, and use words in writing.

According to the Decoding Dyslexia Healthcare Screening, “Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.”

The website “understood.org” has a great example of what your child might be experiencing throughout their day. Click here to see 11th grader Henry’s typical school day.

If you are concerned that your child may have dyslexia, it might be time for an evaluation.

How is dyslexia evaluated?

As the first step of an evaluation process, Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) at Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center will hand out a questionnaire or Dyslexia Checklist to parents to find out more about some of the symptoms they are experiencing and seeing in their child.

Next, a full dyslexia evaluation will be conducted. This typically includes a variety of tests and can be given by a psychologist or SLP. The evaluation can last anywhere from 2-4 hours, depending on the number of areas that are addressed. Depending on the results of the evaluation, a diagnosis of dyslexia may be made and recommendations for dyslexia therapy will be given.

Click here for a copy of our e-book for a look at specific areas that are assessed during the evaluation related to diagnosing dyslexia.

Finding dyslexia success!

Now what? You’ve gotten the dyslexia diagnosis, but how do you help your child? What kind of things should your child be working on? While each child has their own individual needs, here are some areas that might be focused on:

Reading Accuracy
It is important to start addressing your child’s reading accuracy and knowledge of vowel combinations and phonetic rules before addressing the reading rate. Students must first get the technique down (accuracy) and then as the skill becomes more natural, they can start practicing it with increased speed (rate). Too often the reading rate is the main focus in dyslexia programs which only creates unnecessary frustrations.

At Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center we start working with students on vowel combinations to increase awareness of phonetic rules. Click here to download your OWN copy of vowel combinations!

Nonsense Words & Phonetic Rules
Next, we focus on learning the phonetic (decoding) rules and applying them to real and even nonsense words. Practicing with nonsense (not real) words is important because so many kids with dyslexia rely on guessing a word based on context. While that is a smart strategy, it is not very effective and will only get them so far. When we apply the phonetic rules to words that are not real, the child can’t rely on guessing. They must, instead, use the phonetic rule to sound the words out. For instance, when a child is given the nonsense word “meab,” he must rely on his knowledge of the phonics rules to sound it out. He can’t just guess the word, because it isn’t a real word.

Download your own copy of Decoding Rule Cards!

Sight & Spelling Words
Weekly sight words and spelling lists are also very important for children with Dyslexia! Sight-reading and spelling words that do not follow the typical rules and should be targeted with children as well. At Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center we utilize a visualizing program for our sight spelling words!
Check out our Therapy Talks video on visualizing spelling words for more!

Brain Training Activities
Some students with dyslexia benefit from other strategies like brain flexibility games, memory and attention skills games, and handwriting skills. Follow the directions below as a fun way to improve attention skills, enhance working memory, and build visual processing skills. Each level increases the difficulty by adding another mental challenge. Don’t worry… your brain can adapt and grow!
Here are two blogs that explain and provide handouts for Brain Training Activities frequently used at Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center. Click here for blog #1 and here for blog # 2.

What is the use in reading if your child isn’t understanding what they are reading? There are specific strategies that should be implemented to teach your child how to create an image in their head about what they are reading. For instance, if I gave you step-by-step directions on how to do something, you may remember the steps by visualizing. In your head, you see yourself doing the steps. Many children do not automatically know how to visualize, so they need to be taught how to do it. Many learning centers aim to address comprehension issues by just having students read paragraph after paragraph and asking them questions related to the paragraph. That approach is really just “assessment,” and it is not equipping the students with strategies to improve their imagery processes. Improving kids’ imagery skills increases their ability to retain details and main ideas, which ultimately helps them to answer higher-order-thinking questions with greater accuracy.
Here is a look at all the ways visualizing is used at Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center, not only to increase the ability to answer higher-order thinking questions but for so much more!

Click here to download our free e-book for a comprehensive look at dyslexia.

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.


740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317



5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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