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Recognizing the Signs of Dyslexia in Children: Early Detection Matters



Dyslexia, a specific learning disability that affects reading, writing, and spelling skills, is more common than one might think. Yet, despite its prevalence, dyslexia often goes undiagnosed or misidentified, leading to frustration and academic struggles for children. Recognizing the signs of dyslexia from a young age is crucial for early intervention and support. In this blog post, we'll explore the symptoms and signs of dyslexia in children, highlighting the importance of early detection.


Understanding Dyslexia


 Dyslexia is not a reflection of intelligence; rather, it's a difference in the way the brain processes language. Rather than using all 3 areas of the brain to read, they only use 1. People with dyslexia may have difficulty with reading fluency, decoding words, spelling, and even speaking to some extent. 



Signs and Symptoms by Age


Preschool

1. Difficulty with Rhyming: Children with dyslexia may struggle to recognize and produce rhymes, such as identifying words that sound alike (e.g., cat, bat, hat).


2. Delayed Speech Development and “Baby Talk”: Some children with dyslexia may exhibit delays in speech development, including difficulty pronouncing words correctly or forming coherent sentences. They often baby talk like mispronouncing words and dropping the r sound for longer than is developmentally appropriate.


3. Difficulty Learning Letters and Their Sounds: While learning the alphabet, children with dyslexia may find it challenging to associate letters with their corresponding sounds. 


Early School Age (Kindergarten to Grade 3)


1. Reading Below Grade Level: Despite receiving instruction, children with dyslexia struggle to read at the expected level for their age. The reading struggles are also often NOT connected to the letters at all (confusing m and p, changing entire words/guessing).


2. Difficulty with Phonological Awareness: Dyslexic children often have difficulty decoding words the simplest of words, leading to errors or hesitations while reading aloud. They also struggle to recognize that words break apart (“sunset” is sun + set), or that certain phrases are several separate words (“have to go” is “hafto go”).


3. Reversals: Confusing the order of letters ("b" and "d"), reading and writing letters and words backward ("was" written as "saw"), and swapping letters (“first” written as “frist”) is a common sign of dyslexia. It is important to note that reversals are common in all children. If reversals are constant and do not reflect remediation and correction, then the student may have dyslexia. 


4. Poor Spelling: Dyslexic children may have difficulty spelling words correctly, often making consistent spelling mistakes even with common words. Some dyslexic children continue to struggle spelling their own name, making mistakes or forgetting it periodically despite intervention.


5. Avoidance of Reading and Writing: Due to frustration or embarrassment, children with dyslexia may avoid activities involving reading and writing. They will also complain about how difficult and tiring it is. They may act goofy, ask to use the bathroom when their turn is coming to read, or refuse to read entirely. 


Later School Age (Grade 4 and Beyond)


1. Slow Reading Speed: Despite efforts to improve reading skills, dyslexic individuals may read slowly and with difficulty. If trying to read faster, they will swap and change sight words, guess the word/replace with a similar looking one. 


2. Difficulty with Comprehension: Understanding and retaining information from written text may be challenging for dyslexic children, impacting overall academic performance. Several readings are required to comprehend the text and the information may be quickly forgotten when the next section is read.


3. Poor Handwriting: Dyslexia can affect fine motor skills, leading to messy or inconsistent handwriting. Often, the stroke order of letters is backwards or uses several more strokes than necessary (the letter g is written with a hook first, then the circle is added in a separate stroke).


4. Low Self-Esteem: Frustration and repeated academic struggles can lead to low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy in dyslexic children.


Conclusion

Recognizing the signs of dyslexia in children from a young age is crucial for providing appropriate support and interventions. Early detection allows for tailored instruction and accommodations that can help dyslexic individuals thrive academically and socially. If you suspect that your child or a student may have dyslexia, it's essential to seek evaluation and support from educators and specialists trained in dyslexia identification and intervention. By understanding and addressing dyslexia early on the reading gap can be closed and the student can catch up faster. This also prevents bad compensation habits from forming; these are much harder to break when the student is past 4th grade. 


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