Recognizing symptoms, getting help early key to treating dyslexia

Dyslexia often creates difficulty with spelling, writing and reading.
Dyslexia often creates difficulty with spelling, writing and reading.

ORLANDO, Florida – Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects areas of the brain that process language.

The disorder has no effect on intelligence, so children with dyslexia can grow up to be very successful.

But undiagnosed dyslexia can lead kids to feel that they are less intelligent than their peers.

Recognizing symptoms and getting help early can make a world of difference.

Jacquelyn Brown was diagnosed with dyslexia at age seven.

"For every person, dyslexia is a little bit different. For me, it's very specific to language-based learning disability," said Jacquelyn Brown, of the Department of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University.

Dyslexia often creates difficulty with spelling, writing and reading.

"It looked like I was trying to read a foreign language, the letters just never made sense," Brown said.

The first symptoms of dyslexia are problems remembering letters, names, and colors, struggling with new words and talking at a later age.

School age children might be unable to pronounce unfamiliar words, have difficulty telling two similar words apart or try to avoid reading all together.

So, what can parents do?

Stay organized with checklists, color coding and routines. Talk to your child's teachers so they know they're dyslexic. Use pictures when reading and writing to link words to images and remind them that dyslexia doesn't have to limit them in life. Just ask Brown, who earned a PhD in neuroscience with her dyslexia.

"It doesn't just magically go away when you become an adult, you just learn better strategies to deal with it," Brown said.

Most dyslexic children will need some special education.

Multisensory structured language education is what many experts consider the gold standard. It uses sight, sound, movement and touch to help kids connect language to words.