When does a struggling reader become a child with dyslexia? Not all poor readers have this so I have written down some useful pointers to help you decide whether your child has dyslexia.
1. Can your child break up words into their sounds?
When a child is aware of speech sounds then we say that they have phonological awareness. All children need to have this to become fluent readers.
The first check you need to do with your child is can they split up words they know into their sounds? So, for example, do they know what sounds are at the start of words such as train, sheep, pile and rabbit? Can they tell you the end sounds of those words too? Can they split the word up more verbally, into the different sounds so for train it would be tr – ai – n. If they are still quite young, can they split up train verbally as tr – ain ( called onset and rime).
This is one of the major indicators of dyslexia. If you’re child is unable to do this it should be noted down as one of the signs of dyslexia.
2. Was your child able to learn phonics in the time allocated at school?
If your child has attended school on a regular basis and participated in phonic instruction but hasn’t picked it up then this can be another sign that they have dyslexia.
Children with dyslexia take longer to learn phonic sounds than others in their class – and if they have problems with splitting words up into sounds verbally as well, then they won’t be able to learn their phonic sounds until they learn the first skill.
Phonic instruction has become common place in the UK primary schools ( kindergarten) and this has prevented a lot of children from becoming a struggling reader. However, a dyslexic child will need a lot more repetition of the sounds and which letters represent those sounds, which they don’t get to do at school.
If your child is having difficulty learning phonic sounds then this should be noted down as a sign of dyslexia.
3. Can your child identify rhyming words or clap and march in a rhythm to nursery rhymes?
Being able to identify rhyming words is part of becoming phonologically aware, which as stated above is important to develop to become a reader.
Many dyslexic children are unable to do this and have to be taught how to identify rhymes and be taught how to clap in a rhythm to words. Most of my students have been unable to give me their own rhyming words for simple words like cat or train until they have been specifically taught to listen carefully to the words and realise that the end sounds are the same.
So, if your child can’t give you rhyming words ( and don’t assume they can do this, actually ask them to do it) or maintain a rhythm then this is another sign that your struggling reader could be dyslexic.
4. Does your child miss out words, parts of words or skip sentences when they read?
A less well known aspect of dyslexia is that some children have difficulties getting their eyes to work together. To be able to read, your child’s eyes must track smoothly across the page and also work together.
A sign that this isn’t happening is when a child misses out words, letters in words or skips out sentences without realising. A child who is just struggling to read will not do this. It is equally true that not all children with dyslexia will do this – but a high proportion do.
If your child does this, you are adding to your list of signs of dyslexia in your child.
5. Does your child seem to be an anomaly – really intelligent to talk to yet struggling to read?
Dyslexia is assessed as a discrepancy between IQ level and actual reading ( spelling and writing levels). Dyslexic children are bright and yet they struggle with the basics at school.
This is a major discriminator between those children who are struggling to learn to read and those who are struggling because of dyslexia. Your dyslexic child may have strengths in areas that other children don’t – for example they may be able to think easily in 3D or be extremely empathic for their age.
If you are noticing a difference between your child’s general level of intelligence and their school work then this is another tick towards dyslexia.
A child may be struggling to read because they have missed a lot of school rather than any other reason. But , if your child has a good vocabulary for their age, they have attended school regularly and you have worked through the areas listed above and found some problems, you will have a pretty strong indication of whether they may have dyslexia or not.
Dyslexia impacts on other areas of learning too: so knowing if your child has dyslexia versus just struggling to read is important to know.
If you would like tips and strategies to make learning less frustrating for your dyslexic child, then come and join in the discussion in my Free Facebook Group - join here.