Some children have great difficulty acquiring reading skills. The word 'dyslexia' is often used to describe this problem but it is not a condition that everyone agrees about. However, research does show up a specific difficulty many poor readers share: an inability to develop phonological awareness (phoneme awareness). This means they find it hard to split words into speech sounds (phonemes), and to blend individual sounds into words. Poor readers often have a history of problems with acquiring clear speech early on and research shows that it is important to try and help children overcome early speech difficulties before school entry if possible. Speech therapists have a thorough knowledge of phonetics and of children's development of speech and language, and some therapists who work with young children develop an interest in reading skills. Therapists do meet children who are described as having a central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). These children may have several areas of difficulty e.g. problems focusing in a noisy situation and poor short-term memory, amongst other features. Some children will have more than one problem: so Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, and language disorders may show up together. There are, however, many high achievers who have had dyslexic difficulties.
Some characteristics of dyslexia:
A speech and language therapist often liaises with other professionals when working with a child with dyslexia. These may include an audiologist who will check the child has no physical hearing impairment, an optician or optometrist who will check for any problems with vision, an educational psychologist who looks at how well the child copes with different cognitive tasks and, of course, teachers.
The following may form part of therapy input for children with dyslexia:
Some points you may wish to discuss with any therapist you contact:
Click here to search for Speech Therapists in your area with Dyslexia as a specialty.