It is never too late to identify a learning challenge and seek intervention. However, early detection provides your child with more time and opportunity to overcome his or her learning difficulty. Addressing the obstacles to learning presented by dyslexia is particularly important for young learners, as traditional education settings rely heavily on text-based instruction.
As your child progresses through each grade, he or she will find compensating for an undetected learning disability more taxing.
Early detection and intervention is the key to staying on track
Dyslexia intervention may take from three to five years. Awareness of the condition permits you and your child’s instructors to craft a learning environment that allows him or her to succeed and thrive.
When intervention begins in preschool or kindergarten, your child can spend less of his or her educational time catching up and more time developing a love of learning.
Students who receive early intervention are able to develop the skills needed to progress through each subsequent grade level. This helps them avoid learning gaps and the loss of self-confidence associated with learning difficulties.
Additionally, understanding the causes of the difficulties he or she is facing empowers your child.
What are some signs that your child might benefit from dyslexia screening?
The earliest indicators of dyslexia may appear before your child enters kindergarten. Because dyslexia is a language-based disorder, early signs of dyslexia involve your child’s ability to process the spoken word.
A young child with dyslexia may have difficulty learning to speak or learning letter sounds. He or she may be unable to identify rhyming words. Also, he or she may often misunderstand your instructions. As your child approaches age five, he or she may not have an interest in books or learning to read. Your child may still have difficulty associating letter sounds and quantities with the appropriate symbols (letters and numbers). Games that involve letters, numbers, or sequencing may have no appeal for your child.
If your child has begun reading, you can watch for additional indications of dyslexia. For example, when reading, your child may make sound substitutions such as replacing the sound for “p” with the sound for “b” (making a bear a pear). Or, he or she may skip words in a sentence, lose his or her place from line to line, or reverse the letters in a word. For instance, the word “no” might be misread as “on.”
Because reading is just one part of the dyslexia picture, your child may have dyslexia despite being able to read at grade level. Other signs include difficulties with handwriting and spelling. A child with dyslexia may spell a word correctly and minutes later misspell the same word. Or he or she may be impulsive and disorganized. Memorization may be a challenge for your child as well, particularly memorizing math facts. Unfortunately, these signs are sometimes misinterpreted as a lack of attention or care.
Dyslexia runs in families, so if you have relatives with dyslexia, you may wish to be especially on alert for these symptoms in your child.
If you suspect that your child may have dyslexia, consider seeking a professional evaluation. With professional help, you can identify what challenges, if any, your child will face as he or she begins a lifetime filled with learning. With awareness of the challenge, you can begin working toward a solution.
Phonological Awareness: What It Is and How It Works, Understood.org
The Parents’ Guide to Specific Learning Difficulties: Information, Advice and Practical Tips, Veronica Bidwell (2016)
Dyslexia Basics, International Dyslexia Association
Dyslexia: What You’re Seeing, Understood.org
Debunking the Myths of Dyslexia, Christine Thorwath
Common Signs of Dyslexia, Reading Rockets
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