Dyslexia is a condition which makes it difficult for a person to read or write. Many people believe that this learning disorder, sometimes marked by the reversing of letters or numbers, means that the person has an overall low IQ, but that is not the case. Dyslexics are typically intelligent, creative people who, due to a genetic predisposition, have difficulty with accurate word recognition. Many dyslexics will find that one of their parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles also has dyslexia.
People with dyslexia can learn to read, but it is more difficult for them than for their peers. Typically, the younger the person is when diagnosed, the easier it is to help them to learn to read. Although even adults who are first diagnosed can be taught to read and process information more efficiently, studies show that if training begins by age five or six, dyslexic children often can be taught to maintain a reading level equal to that of their classmates. Clearly, the earlier that a diagnosis is made and special help is offered, the better the chances that the dyslexic will not lag behind their peer group.
Depending on age, signs that may point to a diagnosis of dyslexia include:
- May begin talking later than other children and be slow to add new words to their vocabularies.
- Often have a hard time thinking of the word they want.
- Typically have difficulty rhyming.
- May have a hard time learning the alphabet, colours, days of the week, or numbers.
- Have difficulty following directions when given several steps at a time.
- May not be able to retell a simple story in the correct sequence.
Five to Ten Year Olds:
- May have difficulty learning new words.
- Often confuses “b” and “d” in words such as “bog” and “dog.”
- May reverse words, for example, “pot” for “top.”
- Sometimes sees “u” for “n” or “m” for “w.”
- Habitually guesses at words that their peer-group has mastered.
- May have trouble remembering facts.
- Grips a pencil in an awkward way.
Eleven to fourteen year olds:
- Usually reads below grade level.
- Tries to avoid reading aloud.
- Typically has trouble with word problems in math.
- May have poor recall of facts.
- Often has difficulty with spelling – may even spell the same word differently in the same composition.
- May have a hard time understanding prefixes, suffixes, and root words, making it difficult to read and write well.
- Often has hard-to-read handwriting because of awkward pencil grip. Tends to grip the pencil tightly or in a fist.
- Typically has difficulty with reading comprehension.
- May have difficulty with planning and organizing their time, materials, and assignments.
Secondary School and College Students:
- Are often slow and inaccurate readers.
- Tries to avoid reading and writing assignments.
- Displays consistent difficulty with spelling.
- May have trouble learning a foreign language.
- Often has a hard time answering essay questions.
- May have a limited vocabulary.
- Often works slowly and must reread information several times.
- May not retain information that was previously learned to apply to new situations.
- Often hides reading problems due to embarrassment.
- Typically has excellent people skills and is verbally adept.
- Has developed an excellent memory but does not learn new materials easily, especially from books.
- Avoids writing or may be unable to write.
- Is frequently employed below their intellectual capacity.
- May have difficulty organizing their time, materials, and tasks.
Testing by a trained professional is vital for accurate diagnosis and effective educational intervention. Just because someone shows some of the above signs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are dyslexic. Children develop at different rates, which is perfectly normal. If you have concerns about your child’s ability to speak, read, or write well, check with your child’s pediatrician or ask for advice at your child’s school. They will be able to give you the necessary referrals so that you can help your child to make the most of their abilities.