The Urgency Behind Dyslexia Interventions

Sunday, June 25, 2023 by Catherine Gilliland | Dyslexia Support

"Dyslexia is a persistent, chronic condition, and … it does not represent a temporary lag in reading development," (Shaywitz, 34-5). These claims, substantiated by significant scientific research, answer three long-term questions: whether parents and educators should be concerned about temporary snags in a child's reading development, whether there is a real importance to identifying dyslexia in children early on, and what is the exigency for ensuring a dyslexic reader receives the interventions.

"The differences in reading between typical and dyslexic readers not only appear as early as first grade but, importantly, persist through adolescence. … [D]yslexic readers do not catch up (emphasis added) with typical readers primarily due to large differences observed as early as first grade. (Shaywitz, 35) Thus, every conscientious parent and educator will recognize the value of early dyslexia screening and the implementation of immediate, evidence-based interventions. Early screenings and immediate intervention are the only way the persistent reading achievement gap between dyslexic and typical readers will be diminished. 

If time is of the essence, how can parents identify the possibility of dyslexia? Dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in reading. Individuals with dyslexia do not have a concurrent deficit in IQ. Sometimes dyslexics can be gifted. In other words, your child can be incredibly bright and be an unexpectedly slow reader. Kids are also masters at masking their struggles in reading and will develop personal coping skills for their phonological deficits. Still, there are early warning signs that can belie looming reading challenges. Parents are wise to note the following:

  • delays in learning to speak

  • persistent pronunciation difficulties

  • difficulties in detecting rhyme

  • confusion with words that sound alike

  • 'jumbling' up words when speaking

  • word retrieval struggles

  • becoming that 'quiet child' or exhibiting a hesitation to speak  

  • habitual use of words that lack specificity

Parents just learning about the persistent gap in reading abilities between typical and dyslexic readers are justified to find this information alarming! Simply considering the long-term downstream effects of this gap is a reason for great pause. Sadly, there are often accompanying social-emotional hardships and other painful effects when dyslexia is not addressed early and seriously. 

There is great news, however! First, research agrees that there can still be a bright future for dyslexic readers. The positive results of securing evidence-based intervention from a trained interventionist early in a child's life are well documented. Participating in that instruction frequently and consistently can facilitate mastery of reading fluency, comprehension, and spelling skills. Self-esteem usually increases; former socio-emotional challenges often slowly clear up. 

Possibly of greatest importance are the outcomes resulting from dyslexic readers walking the path required for learning to read fluently: growing personally as they develop skills of diligence, endurance, and teamwork to overcome their dyslexia. Their dyslexia often becomes their superpower! Simultaneously, these individuals become fluent readers and specially equipped to face life's other challenges with tenacity and grit, proven skills in problem-solving, and a can-do attitude that, when embraced, will equip them for success for the rest of their lives.

Shaywitz, Sally and Jonathan Shaywitz. Overcoming Dyslexia, Second Edition, Sheldon Press, 2020, London. (34-35).