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Dyslexia symptoms vary depending on age and no two people with dyslexia are alike. If someone demonstrates one or two of the problems below, it does not necessarily mean that he or she has dyslexia, however if someone demonstrates several of the dyslexia symptoms listed below it may be worth exploring the need for an evaluation by a language and literacy specialist.
No one wants to be an alarmist and put a child through an evaluation for frivolous or trivial reasons. However, there is no question that early identification and intervention is far more efficient and cost effective than intervention at a later stage. We cannot wait until a child falls seriously behind in their reading growth to provide necessary reading intervention!
We strongly advocate in our practices both privately and in public education to move from "remedial" models to "preventative" models in order to defeat reading problems.
Waiting to see if a child's reading difficulties will be outgrown is a mistake. Reading problems are not outgrown, they are persistent. There is a 90% probability that a poor reader at the end of first grade will be a poor reader at the end of fourth grade. These are the children who suffer and experience long term academic difficulties. If we catch them early we can ensure their growth!
Luckily, early identification of reading problems is easy. In addition to teachers, parents can also play an active role in the early identification of reading problems. You just have to know what dyslexia symptoms to look for!
Dyslexia symptoms will vary according to the age and educational level of any given person. If you suspect a child may be at-risk for or already experiencing reading difficulties please seek out the advice of a qualified professional. No website, including this one, can diagnose or take the place of an in person consultation with a speech-language pathologist or other qualified professional.
A pre-school aged child may:
- Talk later than most children – As a general rule children say their first words around one year and phrases around 18-24 months. Children at-risk for literacy problems may not begin saying their first words until fifteen months and may not speak in phrases until approximately 24-26 months.
- Use persistent baby talk
- Have unusual difficulty pronouncing words - "aminal" for animal, "pisgetti" for spaghetti, "lephant" for elephant
- Have trouble recalling words or finding the right words when speaking
- Be less sensitive to rhymes and have trouble reciting common nursery rhymes or may confuse words that sound alike
- Experience difficulty learning the names and the sounds of the letters of the alphabet
- Have trouble remembering the letters in their own name
A kindergarten or first grade child may:
- Have difficulty separating syllables in words and blending syllables to make words
- Have difficulty separating sounds in words and blending sounds to make words
- Experience difficulty with learning the names of the letters of the alphabet
- Leave kindergarten without knowing the sounds of most of the letters
- Leave first grade without fluent reading skills, reading is slow and effortful
- Demonstrate the inability to read common one-syllable words or to sound out simple words such as mat, sat, tap, hop
- Consistently make reading errors demonstrating a lack of awareness to the relation of sounds and letters such as "like" for milk, "left" for felt, and "house" for "home"
**Note** – Reading errors such as "sit" for set, "hit" for hat, or "cop" for cup demonstrate an attempt to match letters to sounds and are much more typical than the previous examples.
A child from second grade on may:
- Mispronounce long, unfamiliar words or use imprecise language instead of the proper names of objects
- Demonstrate very slow progress in acquiring reading skills
- Fail to systematically sound out words
- Make unusual guesses at reading a word
- Spell the same word differently at different times
- Avoid reading aloud
- Have better listening comprehension skills than reading comprehension skills
- Skip over small words (like, an, the) while reading
- Have terrible spelling
- Avoid reading for pleasure
- Spend unusual amounts of time on homework
- Have a family history of reading and spelling problems
Adults with dyslexia may:
- Hide reading problems
- Lack fluency in reading
- Spell poorly and prefer to write words that are smaller and easier to spell
- Experience extreme fatigue from reading
- Have a listening vocabulary that is larger than spoken vocabulary
- Prefer professions such as engineering and architecture which require “big picture” thinking
- Have a high learning capability
- Demonstrate strengths in reasoning and thinking
Associated symptoms of dyslexia:
There are a number of associated symptoms of dyslexia. While they are not directly connected to reading or writing, they can affect some people with dyslexia. They include:
- Problems with number skills, such as counting, comparing two sets of numbers, or carrying out sums in their head
- Poor short-term memory
- Problems concentrating
- Short attention span
- Organization and time management problems
- Physical coordination problems - some people with dyslexia can appear unusually clumsy, and younger children can find it difficult to carry out tasks that require a degree of physical coordination
Again, these are not direct dyslexia symptoms but can be associated with dyslexia.
RECOMMENDED READING FOR PARENTS
Hall, S. L., & Moats, L. C. (2002). Parenting a struggling reader. New York: Broadway Books
Moats, L. C., & Dakin, K. (2008). Basic facts about dyslexia and other reading problems. Baltimore: The International Dyslexia Association
Shaywitz, S. (2003). Overcoming dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level. New York: Knopf.
Hurford, D. (1998). To read or not to read: Answers to all your questions about dyslexia. New York: A Lisa Drew Book/Scribner.
Stories about Learning Disabilities in Children
Hall, S. L., & Moats, L. C. (1999). Straight talk about reading. Chicago: Contemporary Books.
Cicci, R. (1995). What’s wrong with me? Baltimore: York Press.Ford, A. (2003). Laughing Allegra. New York: Newmarket Press.
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