Updated: Aug 6
Many children who experience academic difficulties sense that there is something different about the way they learn compared to other students in their class. To receive a diagnosis of a specific learning disorder such as Dyslexia, can be a valuable process and it can provide insight into the reasons why a child has been struggling at school.
For a parent with a child who has been diagnosed with a specific learning disorder, a mixture of emotions may be experienced. A sense of relief is common as a diagnosis provides an explanation for a child’s difficulties. It can also feel overwhelming to realise it is a lifelong diagnosis for which there is no cure. It also raises many questions including how do I help my child and what supports do they need to assist them to navigate their learning disorder?
Children with specific learning disorders require remediation to develop their skills deficits and accommodations to allow them opportunities to better demonstrate their knowledge. At school, it is essential that an individualised education plan is developed and this details how the school curriculum is going to be adapted and modified to meet their needs. It identifies learning priorities and outlines what remediation is being provided in addition to the accommodations in place.
Remediation is often implemented in a very small group format with other children of similar ability. It can also be provided on a one on one basis with the child and a trained professional adult. For reading and spelling difficulties, a structured synthetics phonics programme is the recommended approach to use for remediation. Synthetic phonics is a method of teaching where words are broken up into the smallest units of sound which are called phonemes. Children learn to make connections between the letters of written texts (graphemes, or letter symbols) and the sounds of the spoken language. Essentially they are being taught the ‘code’ by which reading, spelling and writing work. Examples of high quality synthetic phonics programmes include Sounds-Write and MultiLit. Sometimes your child’s school can provide this remediation and sometimes parents will need to obtain a tutor to work with their child.
Accommodations for specific learning disorders include providing extra time to complete tasks, offering alternative methods of assessment, providing a reader or scribe to help with literacy tasks and structuring activities into small sequential steps. Assistive technology is another example and it can ease the burden of having a specific learning disorder. This comes in many forms including the use of computers, reading pens, electronic spell checkers, speech to text and text to speech software.
Butterfly Psychology for Kids conducts assessments for specific learning disorders and can diagnose Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia. Following a diagnosis, the implications are discussed in a parent meeting and professional recommendations are provided in a psychological report. Detailed information is given to parents regarding the remediations and accommodations required to support their child’s specific learning disorder.