Dyslexic children are not “dumb”, they have a learning disorder

Dyslexic children tend too experience a low self-esteem, parental and teacher support is essential to boost their confidence.

Dyslexic children tend too experience a low self-esteem, parental and teacher support is essential to boost their confidence.

Published Mar 31, 2024


What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is classified as a learning disorder where an individual struggles to read. The disorder affects a person's ability to decode words, break them down into syllables and then, read. With the presented difficulties, they experience challenges in reading, writing and spelling. However, the learning disorder is not a determinant of one’s intelligence.

Prevalence of Dyslexia

Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disorders, it affects close to 7% of people globally, but it is prevalent among children. Child Mind Institute (CMI), a mental health service provider for children and their wellbeing, states that approximately 90% of children with learning disorders have dyslexia, and research noted dyslexia affected more boys than girls; however, current research says both genders are equally affected by the learning disorder.


It often happens that children are diagnosed later with dyslexia into adulthood, because of limited knowledge of the disorder especially, in poor households and schools, hence, undiagnosed children are attributed to be slow learners and are not intelligently inclined. Disability Info South Africa (DISA) notes indicators of dyslexia are speech delay, trouble following directions, challenge to learn simple rhymes and sounding out new words; reading in reverse, the struggle to read and spell, and children find reading and writing tiring and frustrating, which affects their emotional state.

Furthermore, CMI says when parents notice reading challenges in their children, they must conduct an evaluation test for diagnosis for early intervention with the school, and if results show reading difficulties, further assistance must be sought. The parent must perform an evaluation with a speech therapist, neuropsychologist, a reading specialist and psychologist. Also, for early intervention, with the support from the child’s school accommodating his/her needs, CMI writes “a child, as soon as a gap between intelligence and reading skills is apparent — and evidence shows it can be seen in first grade — it’s a good idea to get help [reading evaluation]. Earlier intervention is important not only to help kids catch up but to boost their fragile self-image, which is damaged by continuing struggle in school and comparisons with peers.”

Treatment/emotional support

DISA states that children living with dyslexia tend to have confidence issues and emotional instability, they have low self-esteem, especially the undiagnosed ones. Support from parents and teachers is essential for these young minds, hence, parents should enrol their children in dyslexic friendly programmes. These programmes feature repetition and review of skills; small group or individual instruction, teaching decoding skills and comprehension strategies, to help children understand what they read; and multi-sensory instruction in decoding skills.

CMI further says schools can provide “accommodations” known as exceptions for dyslexic children. They can give extra time on tests, a quiet space to work, the option to record lectures and write answers verbally, instead of written form; they can most importantly, boost their confidence for every reading milestone- parents also. Children can also listen to audiobooks as an alternative to reading, use a ruler to help kids read in a straight line, which can help keep them focused and typing on a computer or tablet, instead of writing.

Saturday Star