If your child is showing signs of dyslexia, there are three areas you want to focus on to help:
- Dyslexia-specific Reading Intervention
- Accessibility and accommodations
- Protecting self-esteem
These are the three key things no matter if you homeschool, private school, or if you public schools.
Dyslexia-specific Reading Interventions
Tennessee law outlines a dyslexia-specific reading program as:
evidence-based, specialized reading, writing and spelling instruction that is multisensory in nature, equipping students to simultaneously use multiple senses, such as vision, hearing, touch and movement. Dyslexia-specific intervention employs direct instruction of systematic and cumulative content, with the sequence beginning with the easiest and most basic elements and progress methodically to more difficult material. Each step must also be based on those already learned. Components of dyslexia-specific intervention include instruction targeting phonological awareness, sound symbol association, syllable structure, morphology, syntax, and semantics.
Some reading programs that meet these requirements and are common include:
SPIRE, Wilson Reading, Take Flight, Language!, Barton Reading and Spelling, All about Reading and All about Spelling, Toe by Toe, AOGPE Certified Instructor, SMILA, and more.
If you want to know if the program your school is using meets these criteria, go through each piece of the description above and ask your school to show you how the program meets that aspect.
Accessibility and accommodations
While your child is working on closing the reading gap, it’s important to not let them get behind in other subjects. They can independently access grade-level content by using assistive technology, such as audiobooks and speech to text. This is just as important as the reading intervention and it’s often overlooked! There is no reason a child should have to fail in other subjects simply because of a reading disability.
Accommodations are not only assistive tech, but also things like extended time on assignments, reduced (but not modified) written work, grading on content and not spelling, not being asked to read aloud in front of peers, etc. These should be tailored to the individual child.
When we first started on our journey, I would ask every adult dyslexic I came across one question – if you could tell yourself something when you were 10 years old, what would it be? Without fail, every single adult dyslexic would look me in the eyes and say “it’s gonna be okay.”
That tells me that a whole lot of kids with dyslexia think it’s NOT going to be okay.
In elementary school, reading is king. Teachers put “reading heroes” stickers on walls. Parents praise kids for reading books. Kids get stickers for “getting caught reading.” If you struggle to read, the message is clear ….
It’s our job as parents to protect that self-esteem. Talk to your teachers and be your child’s best advocate. Find something, some area, where your child can excel. Even if they struggle to find an area where they are “test best,” encourage them to learn new things ….go hiking and look for insects and praise their scientific mind! Play a new sport that is rare for your area and talk about how unique their skills are! Spend time creating art and hang it all over your home in prominent spaces! Surround them with others who encourage them and who embrace differences.