The early signs of dyslexia can be overlooked because doctors and teachers claim the child will “outgrow” the struggles and develop reading skills in their own unique time. However, dyslexia researchers have discovered that early reading interventions give all children, especially dyslexics, the best chance at academic success. As a medical doctor, Sally Shaywitz, studies brain images of dyslexic and non-dyslexic readers in her book,Overcoming Dyslexia.
Signs to look for in your young child are:
- Trouble with concepts of time. Although this may be developmental to a degree, time concepts are expressed in unusual ways. For example, when my son was 5 or 6 or even 9, he would talk about anything in the past as “when I was 4”. That could have been last week or years ago. A 10-year-old neighbor boy has been saying “It is 11 hundred of the clock” since he was three.
- Unable to follow 2 or 3-step directions. Sequencing processes into first, second, then, next… do not register with dyslexics frequently.
- Reversal of syllables and phonemes (letter sounds) within a word. The cute words all children make up as they learn the language can indicate dyslexia. For example, “flutter-bye for butterfly, magaruffin for ragamuffin, or bamhurger for hamburger” can be a sign.
- Unable to recognize or produce rhymes. I used to play the rhyming game in the car as we drove to preschool each morning. I would say “cat” and my dyslexic son would say “tiger” and when I asked if those words rhymed he said he did not know.
- Cannot sequence rote memory concepts such as days of the week, months of the year, alphabet, and numbers. My son will say, “ I’ll give three reasons to buy that thing, Mom, one- you like it, three – it is not expensive, and two – it is pretty”. In preschool he, like many dyslexics, could not tell you what letter went after “a”.
- Trouble recognizing letters in words or even in their names. As they are first being exposed to the alphabet in any formal way in preschool, it is all new to them, but most children will recognize their name’s letters by age 4, and possibly more letters than that.
- Handwriting is new to children in this young age, but the way they hold their pencil may indicate dyslexia. One researcher noted a young dyslexic held a pencil like an ice pick. My son gripped all pencils at the very tip in order to control it better, but he could not write well because his fingers got in the way.