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Dyslexia in Children

  • Overview

    - Nadine Gaab, PhD, Division of Developmental Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital

    Dyslexia is a learning disorder that makes it difficult for a child to read, write and spell. If your child has dyslexia, he may have a hard time keeping up with his classmates at school. This can be very stressful for him—and for you. 

    As you read the information on the following pages, keep in mind that you’re not alone: dyslexia is quite common, and it’s a very treatable condition. You might find it comforting to familiarize yourself with the basics about the condition: 

    • Approximately 5 to 17 percent of children have some form of dyslexia.
    • A child with dyslexia has low reading levels, yet often average  or above-avergae cognitive abilities.
    • Dyslexia is also referred to as a “reading disorder and belongs to the family of learning disabilities..” The two terms are often used interchangeably.

    Dyslexia symptoms can include:

    • difficulty sounding out letters and words
    • problems with recognizing letters
    • challenges with reading comprehension

    Some kids with dyslexia also have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

    • It’s very important to get the right diagnosis—and to obtain it promptly—so you can ensure that your child receives appropriate treatment at school.

    Although dyslexia can be a lifelong condition, modern treatment methods can be very effective.

    How Children’s Hospital Boston approaches dyslexia

    The expert clinicians in the Children’s Hospital Boston Division of Developmental Medicine have helped hundreds of children and families living with dyslexia. We are highly attuned to the fact that dyslexia not only makes learning difficult for children—it can also affect a child’s self-esteem and impact the entire family, too.

    Children’s offers a wide range of services to diagnose and treat dyslexia, including comprehensive testing for the condition and for related disorders like ADHD. Our clinicians will:

    • meet with you to discuss your child’s diagnosis
    • address any questions or concerns you may have
    • work with you to formulate the right approach to treating your child’s learning disability

    We have seen time and time again how treatment can help a child with dyslexia feel capable and confident again, and we have watched countless kids with dyslexia go on to lead happy, healthy and enriched adult lives.

    Your child’s treatment team will create a customized plan of care that draws from Children’s multidisciplinary expertise. When treating dyslexia, we involve specialists in such fields as:

    Children’s has experts available across departments to meet all of your child’s needs—as well as a dyslexia resource specialist who can help you find support for your child in many ways: from selecting the right tutor to making the best use of computer-based dyslexia programs.

    While Children’s is known worldwide for our science-driven approach—our researchers are pioneering several pivotal studies on dyslexia—we never lose sight of the fact that your child is an individual … and never “just a patient.” Beginning with your very first visit at Children’s, you’ll work with a team of experienced, compassionate professionals who are committed to supporting your family’s medical, emotional and psychosocial needs.

    Dyslexia: Reviewed by Nadine Gaab, PhD
    © Children’s Hospital Boston; posted in 2011

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO