Is your child displaying symptoms of dyslexia?
Do you suspect your child has dyslexia, but you aren’t sure about the symptoms of dyslexia?
Are you wondering where to begin–with glasses, colored paper, a reading program for dyslexia, neurological training, evaluations, etc.?
In addition to knowing the symptoms of dyslexia, it’s important to know what dyslexia IS and what it is NOT. You have to know the difference to help your child. Without identifying the true cause of your child’s reading difficulties, you could miss the boat altogether!
Watch this short video to learn more about what diagnosable dyslexia actually is..
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Symptoms of dyslexia are varied in degree. However, true dyslexia has a specific definition. It can easily be diagnosed by a qualified examiner. Not all difficulties with reading are ‘dyslexia’. Check out the definition of dyslexia in order to understand what true dyslexia is and is not.
One of the MAIN symptoms of dyslexia is an inability to remember the sound-symbol relationships between the letters and sounds. This skill is called “phonemic awareness.” Children who are clinically diagnosed as having dyslexia have phonemic awareness issues. They also frequently have memory-recall difficulties, processing speed difficulties, or executive function deficits. You’ll note here–there is NO involvement of vision in the diagnosis of true dyslexia. That is because true dyslexia is a neurological learning disability.
If your child sees words jumping around on the page, sees wavy lines, or has difficulty maintaining his place while reading, these are NOT symptoms of dyslexia. There is a huge likelihood that your child has some OTHER reading problem besides true dyslexia. He may have true dyslexia ALSO, but dyslexia is a neurological, language-based learning disability, not specifically a visual-perceptual problem.
Sometimes reading problems can be caused by visual development problems (Ocular Motor deficits, or Scotopic Sensitivity), or they can be caused by cognitive processing problems (Issues with short-term memory, executive functioning disorder, or even true dyslexia).
The true origin of your child’s reading problems has everything to do with the type of help your child needs. Therefore, it is important for you to know what type of problem is causing your child’s symptoms of dyslexia. Often children have problems in more than one area, so a comprehensive evaluation can really save time and frustration in meeting your child’s needs.
Finding and working to solve one problem will not necessarily be the end of your child’s reading struggles if he has multiple areas of difficulty. A child often has true dyslexia as well as visual perception problems and/or developmental eye difficulties
Whatever your child’s issue(s) may be, children with dyslexia often reverse numbers and letters. Most kids have a few random reversals here and there. However, random problems are usually outgrown by time the child is 7. If your child is older than 7 and still has symptoms of dyslexia, there is a good chance your child will need direct help to overcome his difficulties.
Also, problems vary in degree, so some kids may not have big enough problems to propel parents into action until the child gets older. When the child encounters more difficult multi-syllable words on a regular basis (4th grade and above) problems become more obvious. Past the third grade, most words have two or more syllables, so a child may seem to be fine until the third, sixth, or even the ninth grade. See a writing sample of a child with diagnosed dyslexia at age 7.
Many people want to wait to see if their child outgrows the problem, but only 15% of children do. The other 85% end up needing some kind of help. Waiting is a bad bet! The sooner remediation is begun, the less time it will take to ‘rewire’ your child’s brain. Functional MRIs do show that the brain does change with remediation.
Thus, I always recommend early exploration for the origin of the symptoms of dyslexia rather than waiting. It doesn’t hurt anything to give your child help early. However, a lack of help can mean struggling, lowering of self-esteem, frustration with academics, the development of phobias over schoolwork, tantrums, etc.
While NOT MEDICAL OR PROFESSIONAL advice, there are some simple things you can do to see which direction you may want to go in first in assessing your child’s symptoms of dyslexia. You will find additional information about steps you can take to help figure out the root cause of your child’s reading problems on our page with additional information about true dyslexia. You’ll find three basic steps to take on the second half of the page.
Other than these less complicated steps, a complete neuropsychological or psychoeducational evaluation would be advised as soon as possible if your child’s symptoms of dyslexia exist after 7.5 to 8 years of age. It is worthwhile to note that early remediation (as early as age 5 or 6) can improve a child’s outcome, particularly the level of reading fluency achieved.
Even if your child is only suspected of having dyslexia, using a remedial reading program for dyslexia can improve your child’s reading skills. Using such a program will not be detrimental to your child.
Similarly, you can play games like Set: The Family Game of Visual Perception to try to improve your child’s skills while having some family fun. While this isn’t a therapeutic solution, it is one way to work on visual perception skills.
Remember, children with symptoms of dyslexia often have multiple issues. So, finding one problem may not be the complete solution. Considering a complete evaluation if your insurance will cover it, just to be sure, will give you a good grasp on what kinds of learning disabilities your child needs help with.
A great place to ask questions about where to find a good evaluator is the Yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IEP_guide/ . While much of the IEP info does not pertain to homeschoolers, there are MANY special education advocates on this list from most states. It is a great place to ask, “Who is a good evaluator near