Does My Child Have Dyslexia?
Updated: Mar 1, 2020
If a child is not reading by the end of Kindergarten many parents begin to ask the question, "Does my child have dyslexia?" Researchers for decades now have been trying to figure out what exactly dyslexia is, how to diagnosis it, what causes it, and how best to teach children with it. The prevailing consensus at the moment is that it is a weakness in the part of the brain that can associate symbols with sounds. Children who have dyslexia usually have a heightened level of visual awareness and can think in 3-D (thus backwards letters or words).
What Not to Look For:
1. If your child is 6 or 7 years of age, not being able to read is not an indicator. Many children do not learn to read until 8 or 9 without any signs of dyslexia. Schools push for reading by 6 for many reasons, and then stop teaching reading skills, so students in a school who have not learned to read by the end of 1st grade may fall behind without tutoring once their brains are ready to learn to read. Think - my child crawled 4 months later than my sister's, but that does not mean they both won't play on the baseball team. Studies show that learning to read late may actually be beneficial to some children, and that by middle school late readers are usually on grade level with their peers. The advantage of homeschooling is apparent here, as parents can teach reading when the child is cognitively ready.
2. Flipping letters or numbers is also not an indicator if your child is 7 or younger. Preschoolers seem to understand letters and numbers as objects like anything else. Take a chair for example. If I ask you what a turned upside-down chair was, you would answer, "a chair." Young children have not quite learned that we only view letters and numbers from one direction. If you have allowed your children to play with 3-D letters and numbers (haven't we all), then it may take them a little longer to understand that all the grownups around them are stupid and can only understand what letter it is if they turn it one certain way. Dyslexic children struggle with this much more because their brains work in such a 3-D fashion, consider that d,b,and p are all the exact same 3-D shape.
3. Not being able to remember things is also not necessarily a sign of dyslexia. Children with ADD and ADHD sometimes struggle with memory as well. However ADD and Dyslexia seem to go together. Many children who have one will have the other as well. Dyslexia improves memory on the one hand, as it is how children learn to navigate in a world surrounded by words which they cannot read, but they do have a hard time telling the difference in words that are similar. For instance the word "tornado" and "volcano" have similar rhythms and sounds and similar meanings, in that they are both bad, natural phenomenon. These kinds of words are confusing to children with dyslexia.
What to Look For:
The inability to rhyme
The inability to memorize letter sounds and keep them straight
The inability to "take apart" the sounds of words
Flips sounds around in words when speaking: "pasghetti"
Family history - most researchers now believe dyslexia is inherited
If you live in the Charlotte, North Carolina area and are interested in dyslexia screening contact Misty Spinelli at firstname.lastname@example.org