Warning Signs of Dyslexia

*Taken from the Bright Solutions for Dyslexia website

Susan Barton warns that if your child has 3 or more of the following warning signs, you should encourage the child’s parents and teachers to learn more about dyslexia.

Preschool:

-delayed speech

-mixing up the sounds and syllables in long words

-chronic ear infections

-stuttering

-constant confusion of left versus right

-late establishing a dominant hand

-difficulty in learning to tie shoes

-trouble memorizing their address, phone number, or the alphabet

-can’t create words that rhyme

-has a close relative with dyslexia

Elementary School:

-dysgraphia (slow, non-automatic handwriting that is difficult to read)

-letter or number reversals continuing past the end of first grade

-extreme difficulty learning cursive

-slow, choppy, inaccurate reading:  guesses based on shape or context; skips or misreads prepositions (at, to, of); ignores suffixes; can’t sound out unknown words

-terrible spelling

-often cannot remember sight words (they, were, does) or homonyms (their, they’re, there)

-difficulty telling time on a clock with hands

-trouble with math:  memorizing multiplication tables; memorizing a sequence of steps; directionality

-when speaking, difficulty in finding the correct word

-extremely messy bedroom, backpack, and desk

-dreads going to school:  complains of stomach aches and/or headaches

High School:

All of the above symptoms plus:

-limited vocabulary

-extremely poor written expression

-unable to master a foreign language

-difficulty reading printed music

-poor grades in many classes

-may drop out of high school

Adults:

Education history similar to above, plus:

-slow reader

-may have to read page 2 or 3 times to understand it

-terrible at spelling

-difficulty putting thoughts on paper

-still has difficulty with right and left

-often gets lost, even in familiar settings

-can still confuse b and d, especially if tired or sick

TO LEARN MORE, go to http://www.brightsolutions.us

Some Definitions of Dyslexia

*These definitions were taken from the Bright Solutions for Dyslexia website.  http://www.dys-add.com/dyslexia.html#anchorDefinition

Simple Definition

Dyslexia is an inherited condition that makes it extremely difficult to read, write, and spell in your native language—despite at least average intelligence.

Revised Definition from the International Dyslexia Association

Dyslexia is a neurologically-based, often familial, disorder which interferes with the acquisition and processing of language. Varying in degrees of severity, it is manifested by difficulties in receptive and expressive language, including phonological processing, in reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, and sometimes in arithmetic.

Dyslexia is not the result of lack of motivation, sensory impairment, inadequate instructional or environmental opportunities, or other limiting conditions, but may occur together with these conditions.

Although dyslexia is lifelong, individuals with dyslexia frequently respond successfully to timely and appropriate intervention.

Research Definition used by the National Institutes of Health

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin.

It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.

These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.

Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

When I First Found Out About What Dyslexia REALLY Is….Part 1

When my youngest son, Noah, entered Kindergarten, there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to be successful.  Noah was a very bright child…he used great vocabulary and in the right context.  Imagine my surprise when about a month into the school year, the teacher started sending home notes that he was unable to identify the sounds of the alphabet.

This began a 2 year struggle to find out what was wrong with Noah.  We hired lots of tutors, including taking him to some very well known tutoring centers.  We paid a lot of money and received very little help.  Most of the tutors told us that he needed to be put in Special Education because he just could not grasp reading and spelling.  He could remember everything you told him practically verbatim.  His intelligence was above average.  So why wasn’t he learning English?  We were dumbfounded.

He struggled with remembering words like “the”.  He might read it fine in one paragraph but did not recognize it in the next.  He would transpose letters in words, including his name.  For many years, he wrote his name as “Noha”.  Now, I realize that letter reversal is common in young children.  However, when it continues after age 7, it becomes a concern.  For many years, he added, dropped, or mixed up sounds in words.  For example, spaghetti was bisgetti, and so on.  He had great difficulty with rhyming.  He also did a lot of language cluttering.  Instead of stuttering, which is when the flow of speech is broken, i.e., (li-li-like this), or prolonged (lllllike this), he would clutter his words.  Cluttering is when there are excessive breaks in the normal flow of speech.  He might speak like this…”Mom, did you…mom, did you….mom, did you….make me a sandwich?”.   Noah did this all the time and for many years.  His handwriting was also atrocious.  He would write very large letters and then very small letters.  He would write above the lines and below the lines.  He might spread the words out very far and then on the next line have them all bunched up together.  This was all on the same page!  It was very unusual.

Many times when Noah was trying to read, he would substitute similar words.  If it said “dog”, he would say “puppy”. If it said “stick”, he might say “log”.   He would also substitute words that looked the same by shape.  If it said “look” or “bake”, he might say “took” or “fake”.  He did not read for meaning; he read because he was told to and he spent so much time trying to figure out what the letters meant, that he did not have any clue what the content was.  It was not that he did not have good comprehension or understanding; rather, he had no idea what the meaning was because he couldn’t even read the words!  If you can’t read it, you can’t comprehend it!

I will share something here that is very sad for me to admit.  Because of Noah’s high intelligence, we thought many times that he was goofing off.  I would get frustrated with him and tell him to stop goofing off….pay attention….focus.  He would start crying and say that he wasn’t goofing off and he was paying attention.  I would sit there bewildered.  I became very afraid of what the future would hold for my little Noah.  Would he ever go to college?  Would he be a success in life?  How can you get a good career when you can’t even remember the word “the”?  Would he work menial jobs all his life?

We tried for several years to find out what was the problem.  There was a major disconnect somewhere but we could not find it.  I never thought of dyslexia; I was under the impression that dyslexia was when you read backwards.  In fact, most people believe that is what dyslexia is.  The teachers and school administration were at a loss.  They could not figure out how he could be so intelligent yet struggle with reading and spelling.  They never said the word “dyslexia” either.

One day my husband was at work and was voicing his frustration about Noah’s situation to a co-worker.  His co-worker stopped and told him that his high school daughter was exactly the same way.  Her junior year in high school, her English teacher pulled her aside and told her that she believed her to be dyslexic.  The English teacher had a dyslexic child and was also a dyslexia tutor.  She did some testing on this high school girl and it was confirmed that she was dyslexic.  She began a remediation program with her English teacher after school and began making significant progress.  That young lady has graduated college and become quite a success in her life.  Before her tutoring, her parents worried that she wouldn’t complete high school let alone complete college!

We got in touch with this English teacher/dyslexia tutor.  She met with us; reviewed Noah’s academic history; family history (my husband always struggled in school and with reading too); did extensive tests; and, lo and behold, Noah was dyslexic!  We couldn’t believe it!   Truth be told, we were so relieved; I never thought I would be so happy to have my son “labeled”, but I was.  Now we had something to work with.

Stay tuned for Part 2.