Dyslexia is a condition that affects about 20% of human beings. People in every nation, language, and culture have been identified as having dyslexia. It is not a disease to be cured, nor a childhood malady which can be outgrown. It affects how the person processes language, in other words, how the person communicates and receives communication. So, dyslexia affects how well and how quickly a person understands what someone tells them as well as what they read. It also affects how well and how quickly that person can write and spell. Like almost every condition, people are affected to varying degrees.
Some children display characteristics of dyslexia at a very early age. They may not be able to follow simple instructions or have difficulty remembering things that other children their age can remember, such as the names of shapes, or the alphabet song.
Most children with dyslexia are identified when they exhibit difficulty learning to read. Some children seem to read in reverse (b for d, or was for saw), some can't seem to remember the sounds certain letters or patterns make, some simply don't understand what they have read, but understand everything read to them, and some have difficulty reading fluently. A few children with dyslexia seem to have no trouble reading, but have serious difficulty spelling. Over the years, teachers working with students with dyslexia have discovered that multisensory techniques, practiced daily over several years are best to develop the skills these students need so they can be independent life-long learners. Again, the problem is how the person processes language, so glasses and vision therapies will have no effect on the dyslexia problem itself.
Occasionally, a student is not identified until fifth grade, or later, when the language requirements become more complex. Sometimes these students developed basic reading skills, but because they must read a passage multiple times to gain understanding, they are unable to keep up with the volume of reading necessary in the upper grades, or college. These older students respond to intervention as well as younger students respond. Sometimes these older students are highly motivated and seem to respond faster.
"Multisensory techniques" mean that more than one sensory mode is used to develop language processing. In our dyslexia learning lab, when learning or reviewing a pattern, such as digraph ck, we see the digraph, we hear the sound it makes, we say the sound it makes, we write the digraph in the air, and we say the keyword associated with that digraph. We may also write the digraph in shaving cream, on a partner's back, or even on the table with erasable markers when we practice our spelling.
To better understand dyslexia or encourage someone who has it, the following resources may be helpful.
The Everything Parent's Guide to Children With Dyslexia by Abigail Marshall
Overcoming Dyslexia by Dr. Sally Shaywitz
HBO Documentary The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia
What is Dyslexia? by Kelli Sandman-Hurley (a brief introduction on You Tube)
There are many good apps out there for practicing phonics skills. However it is important to check the app first for appropriateness, before allowing your child to use it.