Aug 022013
 

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Q: My child can sound out words, but she has to sound them out every single time even though she’s just read the word. She has some reversals of b’s and d’s too. Do you think she is showing signs of dyslexia?

Answer:


What you describe could very well be a milder case of dyslexia.  Dyslexia varies in degree. There are also a number of signs of dyslexia.

We also have to be aware that there are learning difficulties that can cause signs of dyslexia, but they aren’t really the clinically diagnosable form of dyslexia.

Signs of Dyslexia : The Diagnosable, Neurological Learning Disability

True, diagnosable dyslexia it is mainly characterized by a lack of phonemic awareness. That is a difficulty with the ability to hear or segment individual sounds within a word. For example, the word “cat” has three phonemes in it– the sound of hard c, the sound of short a, and the sound of t.

The specific learning disability diagnosed as dyslexia also includes a deficit in short-term working memory. There are also other issues with vision and perception that appear like they may be dyslexia. However, those conditions require treatment of a very different type, so you don’t want to assume your child has true dyslexia without an evaluation.

You’ll want to reference our page providing information about the Symptoms of Dyslexia to become more aware of signs of dyslexia, what dyslexia is, and what it is not.

Other Reading Disabilities that May Not Signal Signs of Dyslexia

Whatever your child’s issue may be, children often have random reversals in their writing. However, a child usually outgrows the tendency by time he’s 7. If your child is older than 7 and still has reversals, he may have some visual perception difficulties. These often accompany true dyslexia, but the conditions aren’t quite the same thing. Visual perception difficulties are not the same thing as the neurological dyslexia because visual perception deficits are treated in a different way.

Again, check out the information about the Symptoms of Dyslexia to find out if your child’s problems are significant enough that you should seek help.  Should you “wait” for your child to “outgrow” his problems? DEFINITELY NOT! The Symptoms of Dyslexia page also discusses advice about seeking help too.

Signs of Dyslexia and Early Intervention

Early intervention is key to keeping your child on grade level across all subjects. Your child will fall further behind in ALL subject areas if he still can’t read past the third grade and isn’t given assistive technology to learn. 

A lack of reading help can set your child up for years of educational struggling and lower his self-esteem. Kids often start feeling “dumb” because they have difficulty with reading. It also affects your child’s access to the curriculum in all subjects. If your child doesn’t receive help, he will experience frustration with academics. He may learn to hate schooling. He may even develop a “couldn’t care LESS” attitude towards schoolwork. Many kids develop anxiety about learning.

Signs of Dyslexia – Where Do You Begin?

While NOT MEDICAL OR PROFESSIONAL advice, there are some simple things you can do when your child is showing signs of dyslexia. You’ll want to decide which direction you want to pursue in first. 

Why do I say you need to decide what to pursue first? Because symptoms can be caused by a wide variety of conditions. You MUST identify the RIGHT cause of your child’s signs of dyslexia in order to get the RIGHT treatment. Your child may need colored glasses, vision therapy, visual-perception training, phonemic awareness instruction, etc. OR.. He may even need more than one type of help!

As an example, my son had problems with reversals and his eyes hurting when he read. It turned out he needed vision therapy and visual-perception training. He also had the neurological lack of phonemic awareness and some attention deficits. Therefore, he had to have specialized reading instruction. Addressing ALL of those areas was required to get him reading on grade level.

SO, you’ll need to pursue all probable or possible problems through testing. Then you will need to get solutions for the specific problems your child has. 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.

Where to Get Testing When Your Child Shows Signs of Dyslexia

Take steps to obtain a complete neuropsychological evaluation. Continue pursuing solutions for your child’s reading difficulties in each area that appears to be a problem. Keep in mind children often have multiple issues. Therefore, finding one problem may not be the complete solution to your child’s reading struggles.

A great place to ask questions about where to find a good evaluator is through the Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys. Locate an advocate or attorney in your area. Then contact them. Ask for the name of a highly qualified independent evaluator near you. Most of the time they can refer you to one or more neuropsychologists who will provide a comprehensive evaluation for your child. The evaluator will evaluate the signs of dyslexia you see and pinpoint the causes of your child’s difficulties.

Hope the info helps !!
Best Wishes
Sandy

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Aug 012013
 

There is SOOO MUCH Confusion about the Dyslexia Definition!

Dyslexia Definition by dictionary and diagnosis

Is the Dyslexia Definition THAT difficult to understand? … NO!

Does your child have TRUE dyslexia, or perhaps some OTHER condition causing his difficulty in learning to read? Not all problems that manifest themselves in an inability to read are ‘dyslexia’, so it’s important for you to put on your detective cap. Consider the possible causes of reading difficulties, which are not all dyslexia.

Dictionary Dyslexia Definition

The dictionary Dyslexia Definition is basically “difficulty with words” or “difficulty with reading.” SO, by the dictionary definition of dyslexia, any child who has reading problems has dyslexia. However, the specific learning disability called dyslexia does NOT include ALL reading difficulties. True dyslexia has specific conditions for diagnosis. This is where confusion about the Dyslexia Definition comes into play.

Diagnosis Dyslexia Definition

Symptoms of dyslexia are varied, but true dyslexia has a specific definition and can easily be diagnosed by a qualified examiner.  The International Dyslexia Association gives the following Dyslexia Definition:

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.”

Therefore, TRUE dyslexia is neurological — not visual. The Dyslexia Definition for the DIAGNOSIS is rooted in your child’s cognitive functions.

Other Conditions that Fit the Dictionary Dyslexia Definition

Your child’s reading problems could be caused by:

  • Ocular motor developmental problems (treated with vision therapy),
  • Scotopic Sensitivity (treated with colored glasses or dyslexia overlays),
  • Visual processing problems (treated with visual processing programs),
  • Visual perception issues (treated with vision therapy, weighted fonts, or colored overlays),
  • or Executive functioning disorder (treated with cognitive enhancement programs),
  • OR, TRUE dyslexia (characterized by a lack of phonemic awareness and requiring special reading instruction).

After Clarity on the Dyslexia Definition: What’s Next?

Have you had your child tested for phonemic awareness issues?
Or taken him to a developmental optometrist to see if he has ocular motor deficits?
What about visual perception or processing problems?

I can’t stress strongly enough that it is imperative that you consider different possible causes for your child’s reading difficulty.  You really NEED a comprehensive evaluation to get to the CAUSE of your child’s reading problems before you can FIX those problems.

When your child has been evaluated and has a deficit in phonemic awareness, he has true dyslexia. Otherwise, if your child does not have a phonemic awareness deficit, you may need a comprehensive neuropsychological exam, developmental eye exam, etc. to determine the true causes of your child’s reading difficulties.

The specific origin of your child’s problem with reading has everything to do with the type of remediation your child needs. It is important to know what type of problem is causing your child’s difficulty with reading, and often children have problems in more than one area. Finding one problem will not necessarily be the end of the struggles.

The most common symptom doesn’t necessarily fit into a Dyslexia Definition!

Whatever the main cause may be, children with reading problems often reverse numbers and letters. Most kids have a few random reversals here and there. However, problems with reversals are usually outgrown by time the child is 7.

However, these reversals are often based in visual perception or visual processing issues, not clinically diagnosable dyslexia! Don’t misunderstand. Kids with true dyslexia often have visual processing issues TOO. That means the child needs TWO kinds of help–one for the lack of phonemic awareness and another for the visual processing issues.

If your child has visual perception problems, playing family games like Set: The Family Game of Visual Perception can be a fun way to work on those skills. This is a “light weight” way to work on visual perception. Therefore, it’s recommended for fun more than actual remediation, but it’s one thing you can do to move in the right direction. 😉

I think there is a great deal of overlap between the Dyslexia Definition and Dyslexia Diagnosis as far as a child’s brain goes. That is why I think that so many kids display symptoms of several different types of reading issues.

Getting clear on the Dyslexia Definition and Dyslexia Diagnosis will help you get clear on how to help your child read!

Also, problems come in varying degrees, so some kids may not have big enough problems to propel parents into action until they encounter more difficult multi-syllable words on a regular basis (4th grade and above). To see a writing sample of a child with diagnosed dyslexia at nearly 7, and to Learn more about Symptoms of Dyslexia.



Many people think you should wait to see if a child outgrows the problem, but only 15% of children do. The other 85% end up needing some kind of help. The sooner help comes, the less time it will take to ‘rewire’ your child’s reading problems.

Early exploration for the cause of your child’s problems is better than waiting. It doesn’t hurt anything to give extra 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. for every year your child does not get the help he needs.

While This is NOT MEDICAL advise, the following are simple things you can do to see which Dyslexia Definition your child fits into:

1) Get a “developmental eye exam” –find a physician at the College of Optometrists in Vision Development at http://www.covd.org/ — the eye exams are among the cheaper options and it is good to have your child’s eyes checked anyway… note: you do not want JUST a vision check as many children with developmental ocular motor problems have 20/20 vision, so you do need a developmental specialist. You also have the option of trying to do vision therapy at home. The Optometric Extension Program Foundation provides assistance with home therapy for relatively less than you’ll pay someone else to provide vision therapy.

2) Vary lighting as you read — bright light vs. dim light, white light vs. yellow light can help determine if a light spectrum sensitivity is causing problems with reading. Also you can get some colored transparencies and try laying them over the pages as your child reads to test a variety of color spectrum choices.. this can help determine if Scotopic Sensitivity is an issue for your child. You can order a set of the Irlen overlays on Amazon. (See http://www.irlen.com/ for more information about Scotopic Sensitivity.)

3) Go through a systematic testing like found at the back of the book Reading Reflex to find out if your daughter knows her phonemes automatically or not. If not, you can get something like The Language Tool Kit & Manual378520: Language Tool Kit & Manual to work with your daughter on automatic recall of letter/sound combinations. IF your child doesn’t do well with the Reading Reflex testing, there may be some kind of neurological processing difficulty such as dyslexia.

A complete neuropsychological or psychoeducational evaluation is advised if your child’s problems exist after 7.5 to 8 years of age. Remember, children often have multiple issues. Finding one problem may not be the complete solution.

You might want to consider a complete evaluation if your insurance will cover it. That way you will be sure you have identified the processing issues your child has. 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 the IEP info does not pertain to homeschoolers, there are MANY special education advocates on this list from most states. That makes the group a great place to ask, “Who is a good evaluator near ?”

You might want to look at our Reading Programs recommended for home use in addressing dyslexia and Proven Packaged Reading Programs for more information.

Aug 012013
 

Is your child displaying symptoms of dyslexia?

Help with 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..

(YouTube video opens in new window)

What is dyslexia?

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 ?” You can also find therapy resources through the group.

Check out our Reading Programs for Home Use and Proven Packaged Reading Programs for more information about overcoming true dyslexia.

Jul 102013
 

Are you trying to determine if your child has true dyslexia and need to know exactly what the dyslexia symptoms are?

Dyslexia Symptoms:

While reversals of letters are common among kids with dyslexia, there is a lot more to true dyslexia than an occasional reversal of letters. Below are the common symptoms of true dyslexia, which is (not a vision-based problem):

  • Difficulty with rapid naming or recalling names of objects, people, etc.
  • Speech-Language mispronunciations using incorrect sounds or syllables in words.
  • Difficulty hearing a new word and properly speaking the word.
  • Inability to properly name rhyming words.
  • Inability to remember simple words when reading even after multiple encounters.
  • Inability to recall what a word is when the child just read the same word in a prior sentence or paragraph.
  • Inability to remember simple word spellings even after multiple teachings.

Dyslexia is primarily characterized by a lack of phonemic awareness, where a student does not understand the sounds that relate to a specific letter or set of letters.

True dyslexia does not involve visual difficulties that interfere with reading.  Those are an entirely different matter than true dyslexia, which requiries specialized instruction in reading.

About Dyslexia Symptoms: What is a Lack of “Phonemic Awareness”?

Basically, the sound represented by the letter “c” could be pronounced with the same sound as either “s” or “k”.  These sound bites and their relationships to letters used while reading are considered “phonemes.”  The phonemes themselves are the little sound bites that make up words.

A child with phonemic awareness deficits, can’t remember which sounds are represented by which letters, and may confuse the sounds in words when speaking.  Therefore a child with true dyslexia will frequently mix up sounds and letters in words when writing, and sometimes when speaking.

As an example, my son with severe dyslexia used to say things like “kapano” for piano, “bebra” for zebra, and “windshiper” for windshield wiper.  Indeed, any tot has such cute little expressions, but when your child misspeaks words even as he reaches elementary school, he may not be aware of the differences in the sounds.   Using the Lindamood-Bell LiPS program is often the first step for children with the most severe reading issues and notable speech-language issues.

It is very important to remember, TRUE dyslexia is a language-based learning disability.  I can’t stress enough that dyslexia is not a vision problem. There are visual perception problems, ocular motor deficiencies, etc. that cause difficulty with reading, but they are corrected through cognitive training, vision therapy, etc.

Different conditions that cause difficulty with reading, and dyslexia symptoms don’t show the complete picture. Therefore, getting a comprehensive, neuropsychological evaluation is highly recommended.

A child with dyslexia symptoms often has accompanying difficulty with working memory skills, which means he will not be able to hold and manipulate information in his mind very easily.  For example, if a child is going to write a sentence, he may forget what he was writing before he gets the sentence written down.  He may not be able to perform math calculations in his mind very easily or remember the sounds in a word long enough to write it or decode it.

A third dyslexia symptom is difficulty with processing speed.  A child may not be able to find information he wishes to recall and use very quickly or easily.  It becomes laborious for him to find and use information he may have learned before, therefore he will often seem very inconsistent in his recall and usage of information.

It’s important to know that True “Dyslexia” (as defined by the International Dyslexia Association) is indicated when a person has a lack of phonemic awareness and deficits in short-term working memory. Regardless of the dyslexia symptoms, true dyslexia is not a vision problem.

However, some children with language-based dyslexia symptoms also often have visual-perception difficulties with letter orientation.  Their brains are built for 3-dimensional thinking, which is a gift except when it comes to trying to learn the proper orientation of letters on a page!  To understand what is it like to have dyslexia, you may want to check out this other article about what it is like to have dyslexia.

MANY other conditions can also cause difficulty with reading.  These other conditions are often lumped in together and labeled as “dyslexia” because of the definition of the word dyslexia, which is “difficulty with reading”. However, all conditions that manifest as difficulty with reading are NOT clinical dyslexia.  It is the definition of the word “dyslexia” that confuses people because the word is casually used in marketing all kinds of reading products.

Other conditions which can cause difficulty with reading may exist in conjunction with or separately from a lack of phonemic awareness and short-term working memory difficulties. Some of these conditions are:

It is nearly impossible for an untrained professional to determine EXACTLY what is causing a child’s difficulty with reading. You can’t tell just from the dyslexia symptoms. Also, overlapping conditions may exist making an observation-based diagnosis virtually impossible.

Often a child will have multiple conditions. People will jump on the most evident problem. Unfortunately, unless all or most of the problems are addressed, your child will not benefit completely from instruction he/she is receiving.

If you are concerned your child may have dyslexia based upon dyslexia symptoms, also consider the quality of reading instruction your child is getting. When looking at your child’s dyslexia symptoms, also look at how persistent and pervasive his problems are. Pay close attention to whether your child omits or inserts sounds within words when reading, has inconsistent reading performance, and strongly resists reading activities. Those can be symptoms of milder dyslexia.

A LOT of people would tell you to “wait” and see if your child outgrows his difficulties but that his highly unlikely (check out this article that shares “late bloomers” research). The cost of waiting is tremendous if your child does have dyslexia or some other learning difference. It takes a long time to remediate a child who has dyslexia. You can’t get started too soon if he does have it.

You should know that 85% of children who have difficulty acquiring reading skills have learning disabilities that require special reading instruction. Thus, only about 15% of children will “outgrow” their difficulties.

Put another way, it won’t harm your child to give him extra read instruction if he has dyslexia symptoms. However, it will make learning more difficult if you delay getting an evaluation or giving help. It IS ‘typical’ for a child of 6 to reverse letters sometimes, but not very often, and all children should have outgrown this propensity by age 8.

Here is the writing of a 7 year-old child with significant dyslexia symptoms:

WARNING: ©COPYRIGHTED Image: It is ILLEGAL to use this image without permission. You may LINK to THIS PAGE. You can tell people to come HERE to see the handwriting sample, but you may NOT copy or embed the image in your own website. You may NOT link to the image directly or use it for any other purpose whatsoever without consent.

Copyright 2000, Sandra Cook dyslexia writing sample

As you can see in this dyslexia writing sample, every word except for one has a reversal or is oriented incorrectly.  On the last line, the word “Spout” has a backwards “s” and “t”, and an upside down “p.”  This child’s reversals are pervasive and affect most letters at different times.

While the visual-perception issues that cause the reversals are not part of the primary clinical definition of dyslexia, these visual-perception difficulties with letter orientation are often present in children with true dyslexia. Functional MRIs (fMRI) show differences in the brains of children with true dyslexia, and I think this means they are a different kind of thinker.  With their differences in brain processing, the co-existence of letter reversals is common.

In this dyslexia writing sample, you can also see evidence of phonemic awareness issues.  In the center word on the bottom line, the word is “water,” but the child thinks the sound of /t/ is the sound of /d/.  Children with true dyslexia will often confuse letters and sounds when writing.

Determining whether your child has dyslexia, or some other related condition, can be tricky. There are other developmental disabilities that mimic dyslexia. It is difficult for an untrained person to determine what a child has based solely upon dyslexia symptoms.

A child may have developmental vision problems, Scotopic Sensitivity, Attention Deficits, or other developmental delays which can manifest themselves as dyslexia.

Scotopic Sensitivity is a sensitivity to reflective light from the pages of a book and is less common than true dyslexia or vision problems. You can order a set of the Irlen overlays on Amazon and try them (for relatively little cost) or find out more about Scotopic Sensitivity at the **Irlen Institute website.

For an initial screenings, I recommend taking your child to a developmental optometrist and an educational evaluator, generally a psychologist, neuropsychologist, or educational consultant.

You can find a develpmental optometrist through the College of Optometrists in Vision Development at **http://www.covd.org/. If your child does have an occular motor deficiency (difficulty with smooth eye movements), then there are home therapy programs available. One that we have used is called **Home Vision Therapy.

You can call your pediatrician to get a recommendation for a qualified psycho-educational evaluator or call the local chapter of **CHADD or International Dyslexia Association for additional guidance.

If your child consistently, and persistently, mis-orients letters or numbers, or interchanges them with each other, you will want to pursue the possibility of developmental vision difficulties and dyslexia. They frequently co-exist even though dyslexia is not a vision problem.

If your child does have dyslexia, you will want to fund and use a reading program for dyslexia that is based upon the Orton-Gillingham methodology.  Researched and proven reading programs for dyslexia are based upon this methodology.