Mobile apps and daily visual activities can encourage children with dyslexia to participate in reading exercises, says Lenin Grajo Ed.M., instructor of occupational science and occupational therapy at Saint Louis University.
"Reading has always been looked at as a skill you should be able to master," Grajo said. "My approach basically focuses on participation. I look at how much you like doing a task rather than how well you can do it."
Dyslexia is a learning disability, in which children have a neurological disorder that causes their brain to process and interpret information differently. But with the help of educators and therapists, kids with dyslexia can develop and enjoy reading and writing activities, and build confidence.
Children with dyslexia usually dislike highly-structured reading tasks, and therefore avoid taking part in reading activities. But with the latest technological innovations, kids with dyslexia have started using tablet and smartphone apps that make reading and writing more fun.
"This is the multisensory approach that makes books very interactive," said Grajo, who got his training in assessment of dyslexia and reading difficulties at Harvard University. "If you ask a child with dyslexia to read a book, they will say they can't. But through these apps, children actually like doing these reading activities."
Some of these interactive books have a built-in camera and recorder that engage kids. These apps play a big role in developing a child's reading, writing, spelling, studying and organizing skills, which eventually increases their self-confidence in the classroom, Grajo says.
Grajo says that parents and teachers should also incorporate arts and crafts into routine activities as kids with dyslexia are often instantly attracted to them. Instead of asking a child to read a book, he suggests involving them in a playful activity that includes lots of visuals as well as some reading and writing. For example, parents can create a treasure hunt for their children and ask them to read the clues to find the hidden items. Another way to encourage children to read is to cook with them. Parents can read the recipes with the kids and make cooking a fun process.
"Through these exercises, the child is reading without realizing it. This is the occupational performance approach to dyslexia," Grajo said. "When you realize you enjoy doing something, you participate in it more and become better with it."
The apps and routine activities form a strong foundation for dyslexic children, which enable them to develop their own strategies to read and write as they begin to like these activities.
"Once they are confident, they feel they can do these tasks without the help of a parent or teacher," said Grajo. "As therapists, we are empowering and enabling them to be able to do what they couldn't do earlier."
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