One of the things children with dyslexia need most is support and advocacy.
Someone to understand and fight for them in a system that's often not there yet.
Helping Your Child
Step by Step
Know the Signs
The signs of dyslexia can appear as early as preschool. Parents often notice the potential indicators. If your child is experiencing several of these symptoms, you should speak to your child's pediatrician, teachers and school psychologist about dyslexia
Learning to speak (delayed compared to his peers)
Learning the alphabet, numbers and days of the week
Naming people and objects
Speaking precisely and using a varied, age-appropriate vocabulary
Staying on topic
Getting or staying interested in stories and books
Understanding the relationship between speaker and listener
Pronouncing word correctly (Example: says “mazagine” instead of “magazine”)
Learning and correctly using new vocabulary words
Distinguishing words from other words that sound similar
Repeating what has just been said
Recognizing letters, matching letters to sounds and blending sounds when speaking
Learning to read as expected for his/her age
Associating letters with sounds, understanding the difference between sounds in words
Accurately blending letter sounds within words
Recognizing and remembering sight words
Remembering printed words
Distinguishing between letters and words that look similar
Learning and remembering new vocabulary words
Keeping ones place—and not skipping over words—while reading
Showing confidence and interest in reading
Learning to copy and write at an age-appropriate level
Writing letters, numbers and symbols in the correct order
Spelling words correctly and consistently most of the time
Proofreading and correcting written work
Making and keeping friends
Interpreting people’s non-verbal cues, “body language” and tone of voice
Motivation and self-confidence about learning
Sense of direction/spatial concepts (such as left and right)
Performing consistently on tasks from day to day
Signs of dyslexia from the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity
“Early screening is so important for our students with dyslexia…because it begins the process of quickly connecting students with the powerful
interventions that can help them overcome dyslexia, or even prevent it from ever being a factor of their lives.”
-Jan Hasbrouck, Conquering Dyslexia, (2020)
Too many educators still whisper the word dyslexia, too few students get identified early, and many don’t get identified at all. We know that about 20% of the population has dyslexia, yet only about 5% get identified in school.
One thing you can do is push for early screening. Ideally by kindergarten, but it's never too late. The sooner you know the if your child is at risk for or exhibits characteristics of dyslexia, the soon you can get a diagnosis, and the sooner intervention can begin. Individuals with dyslexia can become terrific readers with the appropriate intervention.
Screening are brief assessments of a particular skill or ability that is highly predictive of a later outcome. A screener might indicate that a child is at risk for dyslexia or not likely at risk, but it does not diagnose dyslexia.
There is currently no requirement for dyslexia screening in Nebraska schools, but state law does require reading assessment three times during each school year to all students in kindergarten through grade three. Parents must be informed of a reading deficiency and should then consider a screening for dyslexia or a full evaluation.
Ask your school or pediatrician if they can screen your child for dyslexia. If not, please contact the Nebraska Dyslexia Association and we will guide you to resources for screening and evaluation such as
Evaluation & Diagnosis
Why is evaluation important?
An evaluation is the process of gathering information to identify the factors contributing to a student’s difficulty with learning to read and spell. First, information is gathered from parents and teachers to understand development and the educational opportunities that have been provided. Then, tests are given to identify strengths and weaknesses that lead to a diagnosis and a tentative road map for intervention. Conclusions and recommendations are developed and reported.
When a student is having difficulties with reading and spelling, an evaluation is important for three reasons:
Diagnosis An effective evaluation identifies the likely source of the problem. It rules out other common causes of reading difficulties and determines if the student profile of strengths and weaknesses fit the definition of dyslexia.
Intervention planning An effective evaluation develops a focused intervention program. Students who have a specific learning disability in reading (dyslexia) need a specialized approach to reading instruction to make progress. It is crucial that this specialized instruction begin at the student’s current level of reading skill development, rather than at the student’s grade level. An effective evaluation helps parents and teachers see which specific skills are weak and where reading and spelling instruction should begin.
Documentation An effective evaluation documents the history of a student’s learning disability. One purpose of this documentation is to determine eligibility for special services, including special education. Documentation is also important for obtaining accommodations on college entrance exams (ACT, SAT), in college, or in the workplace. A comprehensive assessment should provide the documentation to determine eligibility under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), or the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
How and where to get an evaluation
In the United States, under federal law, public school districts are specifically required to identify children with dyslexia and provide appropriate services to them--even if a child does not attend public school.
This process varies by district and school and can be difficult to navigate. Please contact the Nebraska Dyslexia Association for assistance.
Even if the child is found as having a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) in reading, it is less common for a school to diagnose dyslexia or use the term "dyslexia." Many schools will give a generic diagnosis of SLD to describe a child "who struggles with reading." Such administrations can be reluctant to label a child as dyslexic as it may then hold the school responsible for appropriate reading interventions and accommodations.
It is important to know that in Nebraska, the use of an MTSS/RTI process should not delay or deny an evaluation for dyslexia.
Dyslexia testing at school may not be the best fit for everyone and may not be done soon enough--children who have dyslexia can be mislabeled or overlooked without getting the proper assessment and help they need. There are many outside resources available to obtain a full evaluation and diagnosis. Contact the Nebraska Dyslexia Association for guidance.
Intervention, Support & Advocacy
If, as a result of additional assessments, a child is found to have the characteristics of dyslexia, the Nebraska Dyslexia Statute states that the child shall be provided instruction that is systematic, sequential, and multisensory.
“Section 1. Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, unless otherwise provided in an individualized education plan for a student receiving special education services, each student who is identified as exhibiting characteristics of dyslexia shall receive evidence-based structured literacy instruction implemented with fidelity using a multisensory approach as provided in the technical assistance document for dyslexia adopted and promulgated by the State Department of Education pursuant to section 2 of this act.”
Structured literacy is characterized by the provision of systematic, explicit instruction that integrates listening, speaking, reading, and writing and emphasizes the structure of language across the speech sound system (phonology), the writing system (orthography), the structure of sentences (syntax), the meaningful parts of words (morphology), the relationships among words (semantics), and the organization of spoken and written discourse.
Evidence based methods are explicit, systematic, cumulative, and multimodal in that they integrate listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
The following fact sheet from The International Dyslexia Association, Structured Literacy: Effective Instruction for Students with Dyslexia and Related Reading Difficulties, (2020), describes the content of structured literacy (SL).
Support & Advocacy
One thing children with dyslexia need most is support and advocacy. Someone to understand and fight for them in a system that's often not there yet.
Understand that dyslexic children can and will learn to read, but it will take time. In the process, it is important to recognize their many strengths and accomplishments in spite of their weaknesses in decoding, spelling or handwriting. Prepare your children, inspire confidence and enable them to look forward to a proud future in which they understand their disability as well as their strengths, self-advocating for their unique learning style.
“For those with dyslexia, knowing that they are dyslexic provides direction and a starting point for self-advocacy and accommodations. It helps them feel that they are not alone—that they are part of a community of dyslexics contending with similar struggles. They can look to other people with dyslexia who are succeeding and know that they can do the same. They develop greater self-awareness about the specific challenges they face and what they can do to succeed, rather than assuming they are stupid or lazy. And they can learn to identify and utilize their strengths in both school and, later, in the workplace, bringing their best assets to the job at hand, knowing what tasks to delegate and when to allow themselves a little extra time.” -- Dr. Sally Shaywitz
The family handbook from the International Dyslexia Association will provide you with additional knowledge on the basics of dyslexia, valid assessments, identifying effective teaching approaches, managing the education of your child, transitioning into college, and additional resources.
SuperSummary.com provides a comprehensive resource guide with many different resources for parents, educators, and students.
The Dyslexia Guide from the Nebraska Department of Education provides information, resources, guidance, and support to schools, families, and caregivers in understanding dyslexia.
Helpful technology is available to make reading and learning easier, faster, and more accessible. Keep in mind there are benefits and limits to all assistive technology. You may have to try a few before you find the best solution for you or your child. Check out this article from WIRED for more.
One of the best text-to-speech apps. Also has scanning and editing apps
One of the most popular text-to-speech apps
More than 80,000 audiobooks designed for anyone with dyslexia
An intuitive pen used to scan text and hear natural sounding speech
Free access to millions of digital texts for people and students with disabilities
Tools for everyday tasks like reading text out loud, understanding words, researching and proofing
If you are interested in joining or starting a support group in your area, please contact NDA. The following are support groups that are meeting around the state:
Parent Support Group - Elkhorn - Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kids Support Group - Elkhorn - Contact: email@example.com
Adults with Dyslexia Connect - Lincoln - Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Dyslexic Kids Connect provides opportunities for youth, ages 8-18, to get together, have fun, and learn more about their learning difference. It’s finding a place where they can speak freely and connect with others who have similar experiences. It’s a sense of belonging that can lead toward building self-esteem, and building that self-esteem can lead to success in school and life.
For more information on Dyslexic Kids Connect in Nebraska, call Gwelda at 402-423-4490 or contact the Nebraska Dyslexia Association.
Become a Member
to help us support struggling readers