Dyslexia and the Grade-Schooler

Is my child dyslexic or simply immature? The moment you suspect a problem, it's a good idea to consult a pediatrician or a pediatric neurologist. For kids who are consistently disorganized and distractible or have serious difficulty with letters and words, early intervention can head off a lot of frustration and discouragement.

  • Ever ask your child to do something, only to find that by the time the words have left your mouth, she can't remember a single thing you've said? Kids who don't process information well are stymied when a barrage of instructions are bundled into one sentence. It helps to break directions down into small bites and wait till your child has completed one task before moving on to the next.

  • When kids have difficulty understanding spatial relationships or following directions, parents have plenty of opportunities to help. Just make it part of the daily routine: "Take the spoons out of the drawer. Help me hide this present under the bed. Put the cheese doodles into the bowl. Let's tickle Dad's left foot."

  • "Why are you crying? We'll be there in five minutes!" You're trying to reassure the restless beast in the back seat, but she seems to have no concept of time. Help her "see" by giving her an egg timer and setting it for five minutes. Or let her play around with a minute hourglass. When the sand has trickled from top to bottom, show her what one minute means on the face of a clock. Dyslexic learners need concrete examples.

  • By second or third grade, most kids can name the months and the seasons of the year. If your child's comprehension is still a little fuzzy, get out the art supplies and let her make her own calendar. Explain what makes one season different from another, then have her cut out illustrations from magazines that show spring, summer, fall, and winter. She can also find pictures of holidays and put them where they belong on the calendar.

  • Many dyslexics have trouble reading emotions and body language. They can't tell when a friend is upset or when a teacher is exasperated, and the social ramifications can be devastating. You can help your child with a little role playing. As you read aloud, ask him to act out how a character in the story might look. Or make your own facial expressions and body movements and ask him to figure out whether they indicate anger, sadness, happiness, or confusion. Keep it light and make it a game.

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