Does My Child Have Dyslexia?

Part One

If you are wondering about this, you are not alone. The first time your child identifies “b” for “d”, reads “was” for “saw”, that thought usually pops into mind. This article will try to separate fact from fiction and give some solid, though initial, information about dyslexia.

First of all, there are as many different manifestations of dyslexia as there are letters in the alphabet, so no two dyslexics present the same. There are many differing degrees of severity, also. Because it is a highly individualized disorder, individual analysis needs to be sought for each person.

Simply stated, “dyslexia” means difficulty with reading, writing and spelling, with average intelligence being present.

In more depth, it is a neurologically-based, often inherited, disorder that interferes with acquiring and processing language skills. Symptoms include difficulties in receptive (understanding what is said) and expressive (ability to verbally communicate) language. It covers phonological understanding and processing and is sometimes evident in math.

Depending on the age of the child, difficulties may manifest as a struggle with accurate and quick word recognition, poor spelling and difficulty decoding words. Older students may have difficulty with reading comprehension. This often leads to the secondary issues of poor vocabulary development and the growth of necessary background knowledge to support more complex learning.

Symptoms

What makes dyslexia particularly “tricky” is that many of the symptoms are also somewhat developmentally appropriate for a particular age. Generally speaking, however, if a child has THREE or more of the following, diligence is indicated and a screening should be done at age five or at the time a concern is present.

  • Delayed speech: Didn’t speak any words by first birthday. Didn’t start speaking until 2 or later.
  • Mixing up sounds in words: hogspetti for spaghetti, amblance for ambulance, hangaburg for hamberger, etc.
  • Many ear infections: these interfere with language and sound development, a precursor for reading and language development
  • Difficulty tying shoes: often a weakness in fine motor skills can be an indicator
  • Confusion with directional words: left/right, up/down, over/under, etc.
  • Difficulty memorizing phone number or address, alphabet
  • Difficulty rhyming
  • Handwriting difficulties
  • Reversals past the end of first grade
  • Non-fluent or choppy reading
  • Skips “small” words. While this is not as worrisome with more established readers (the tendency to skim and skip prepositions is a development skill that actually makes for more efficient reading in older individuals), early readers should be focusing on every word on the page.
  • Inability to “sound out” unknown words
  • “immature” speech. Differentiation between R’s, L’s, M’s, N’s should be solid prior to 2nd or 3rd grade.
  • Weak spelling ability
  • Difficulty remembering sight words
  • Late establishing a dominant hand
  • By about 4.5 years of age, scoring poorly on phonemic awareness tests and tasks (ability to identify the first/last sound in a word, omitting a sound in a word, identifying same initial sounds in words, creating new words by substituting sounds, blending, creating and identifying rhymes.)

The next article will cover Reading and Spelling difficulties, so be sure to look for it in the next newsletter!

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