Dyslexia Part One: Recognition and Diagnosis

            Dyslexia is a relatively common disorder. Studies suggest that anywhere from five to fifteen percent of children and adults in the United States have dyslexia. Despite the prevalence, dyslexia often goes unrecognized. This is especially tragic because when children with dyslexia remain undiagnosed they often end up feeling that their difficulties come from not trying hard enough. These feelings can be exaggerated by well meaning teachers and parents who do not understand why the child is struggling. This can lead to long term self esteem problems. Even for children who don’t suffer from low self esteem, it is important for them to be diagnosed early because the earlier treatment is started the easier it is for the children to adapt and reach their full academic potential. Because of that it is important for parents, caregivers, grandparents, teachers, and anyone else who works with children or has a child in their life to be familiar with the most common signs of dyslexia.

In very young children (preschool and younger)  these signs are:

  • Late talking
  • Learns new words more slowly than expected
  • Reversing sounds in words
  • Difficulty learning the letters of the alphabet
  • Difficulty learning and remembering nursery rhymes
  • Not understanding words break apart into sounds
  • Struggles to learn left and right
  • Difficulty following directions with more than one step

In slightly older children (kindergarten and olders)

  • Reading well below grade level
  • Frequent complaints about reading and avoiding reading
  • Difficulty reading that are not related to vision problems
  • Problems with speech and pronunciation
  • Difficulty sounding out basic words
  • Reluctance to read out loud
  • Difficulty with new words
  • Confusing words that sound alike
  • Using a vocabulary that is too simple for the child’s age
  • Difficulty remembering details such as names and dates
  • Difficulty remembering sequences

If a child in your life is exhibiting some or all of these symptoms it is probably a good idea to have them evaluated for dyslexia. For school age children, the first step is probably to talk the issue over with their teacher or school. In many cases, schools are willing to evaluate the children at the parents request. Additionally, teachers will often be able to offer insight on the child’s behavior at school that the parent may not be aware of. Alternatively, you can also discuss the issue with your child’s pediatrician. There is no one test used to diagnose dyslexia. Instead, it is usually diagnosed using a more holistic approach. Often this includes, but is not limited to: academic and developmental history, questionnaires to be filled out by parents and teachers, reading test, psychological test, and/or vision and hearing test to rule out medical problems. Once a child has received a diagnosis the parents and child can begin working with the school and other professionals to help the child improve their reading and writing and learn new skills to help them adapt. With the proper intervention most children with dyslexia end up performing the same as their peers academically and professionally.

Stay tuned for the sequel on treatment for dyslexia!

If you would like more information The Mayo Clinic, The Child Mind Institute, and Health Line all offer articles with excellent information on the topic.

This blog was written by our intern, Hannah Shaffett

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