Does My Child Have Dyslexia?

Reading a picture book

Reading a picture book

“Does my child have dyslexia?” is a common question for parents who’s children are struggling in reading. Some parents have never heard of dyslexia. Some people have heard of dyslexia, “isn’t that seeing backwards?”  Children with dyslexia often have written difficulties associated with letter reversals, but that does not mean that a child reads backwards. Below is a list of things that can be seen in children struggling with dyslexia, that is beyond writing reversals.

Guesses at a word: Children may see the beginning letter is a b and guess any word that starts with b. In the beginning of their reading journey the guessed word does not make sense to the context – bat, ball, bag, bear when the word is bicycle. As they get more savvy, the guessed word could fit the context – boat, bat mobile, hot air balloon, or any other vehicle that goes. A child who is guessing is not decoding words.

Unable to Rhyme: Early reader books and many picture books are written to rhyme. Stop before the second rhyming word and ask the child to guess what word is next. They have to think of a rhyming word that fits the context. The cat in the ____. Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder where you ____. Up above the sky so high, like a diamond in the _____. Inability to rhyme is very common for children with dyslexia. They can often struggle with the end sounds of a word, which is what rhyming is all about.

Inability to read a word more than once correctly. A dyslexic reader reads inconsistently. When they are beginning, not tired, they do better, but after a couple pages (or paragraphs…or even sentences) they get tired and aren’t able to use their coping strategies as well. A student may be able to read a word on one page (or line) but on the next page (or sentence) they cannot, as if it is a foreign word they have never encountered before. There can be a few reasons for the this. It’s possible that at the first encounter of the word they guessed correctly and the second they guessed incorrectly. Another possibility is that they decoded the word properly the first time, but when needing to decode it a second time they have become tired from decoding all the words in between (and before encountering that first word).

Little words are skipped or stumping. Prepositions don’t contain content, such as for, that, with.  The reader is just skimming to the next important word to give context to what they are reading. Prepositions seem insignificant to them, especially if they are an irregular word that can’t be decoded such as “of.”

Blending strain. A reader may be able to sound each sound out, but not retain in working memory their sounds to blend all the words together. If the reader sounds out a blend, they may not see “pl” blends and sounds out each letter separately. This makes for a more exhaustive reading experience.  Another blending error that is common is to use a sound from the previous word into the current word. So if the phrase is “wild frog,” they might say “wild dog.”

Loving pictures in books. Looking at pictures in a picture book gives clues to the story. It is why picture books exist. Most dyslexic children prefer picture books and as they get older will gravitate to graphic novels and comics. It may also due to the fact that they are typically right brained processors as well. You may find that when you turn a page, they put their hands on the page over the words in order to look at the pictures. This could be unintentional or intentional. One may also find that even though all the words are read by the adult, the child insists on continuing to review the picture prior to turning the page. They are reading the story by picture and most likely be able to tell you the story without ever reading a single words.

There are so many other signs, but I find these to be huge in the initial phase of learning to read.

If you want more information about dyslexia or want your child to be screened for dyslexia, contact Lisa.

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