Do Speech Problems in Children Lead to Dyslexia?
You know that your child is mixing up words they say - for example they are saying 'gog' for 'dog' and 'hoptal' instead of 'hospital' amongst others. That is really endearing, isn't it? Actually, it's a sign of dyslexia and one that shouldn't be ignored. Here are 5 signs that could indicate that your child has dyslexia.
Your child can't form words and sounds properly, leading to unclear speech.
This is, perhaps, the most obvious sign of a speech and language issue but it actually does not follow that all children with this problem will have dyslexia. There are many reasons why a child may not be able to form certain sounds in their mouth and a speech therapist is the go to person to sort this out. I recently taught a child with this issue, but over time it became clear that he just had a problem physically forming the words rather than any problems with speech sounds therefore not indicating dyslexia.
However,I also taught a child with speech problems where it soon became clear that not only could they not physically form the words but they couldn't identify speech sounds either or understand how sounds matched letters that we write. This was a clear indication of dyslexia in that child.
Therefore a speech problem in your child should flag up the possibility that they could have dyslexia.
Your child mixes up sounds in words or misses out parts of a word in speech.
You may not realise that dyslexia is a language based difficulty and that speech is the first place that the difficulty can show itself. I would say that all of my students mix up their sounds in words to some extent, some more obviously than others. When you listen to your child speak, do they avoid certain words because they know they can't say them? When they try and use longer words, do they miss out parts of the word when they say them? Rather than viewing this as 'sweet' you really need to see what other signs of dyslexia they may be showing you.
You can read more about other signs of dyslexia here.
Your child often seems to have words ' on the tip of their tongues' but has difficulty in retrieving it to say.
This is another sign of dyslexia which you may not recognise. All of my students do this when they are talking about something - does your child do this too? This is because they have a poor working memory which forms part of the difficulties that a child with dyslexia has. Working memory is the channel we use in our brain to retrieve information and words in speech; if this is weak then you will see problems like this occur in your child. You can read more about how working memory affects a child here.
Your child is unable to identify or say words which rhyme with each other.
This is an early sign of dyslexia and is worth mentioning under speech problems. Your child is unable to do this because they don't understand what the sounds are at the ends of the words. Therefore, they can't identify when they are hearing the same sounds, as you do in rhyming words. Your child will also be unable to give you rhyming words. A lot of parents miss this one because they think their child can do it, but do double check as I have found that they can't even when I've been told that they can!
Your child can't do spoonerisms.
Spoonerisms are where you change the start sounds of words around - 'Bob cat becomes Cob bat'. If your child has difficulty in doing this( after a couple of practices!) it can also be an indicator of dyslexia. This is because it shows a lack of awareness of sounds in words and that your child is unable to manipulate speech sounds.
You may be wondering why this matters so much.
As I stated earlier, not being able to identify speech sounds in words is an indicator of dyslexia and one of the key reasons why your child will have difficulties in picking up reading. Your child will also have problems with spelling as well as writing.
What should you do?
First, you should talk to your child's school and ask them to carry out an informal screening for dyslexia. This should enable your school to put an appropriate intervention into place for your child and help them with their speech difficulties. If your child is having difficulties in forming words, then you should get a referral through the NHS or by referring your child privately, to a speech therapist.
Next, I would follow a programme such as 'Sound Linkage' by Peter Hatcher so that you can help your child identify speech sounds in spoken words.This will then help your child with their reading and spelling skills.
If you would like further help with this, then you can contact me here for a Dyslexia Deb Assessment where I can check whether your child has a problem with speech sounds as well as indicating whether your child has dyslexia ( please note that this is not a formal dyslexia assessment which are carried out by educational psychologists).
You can also download my free Reading Checklist which checks whether your child has problems with speech sounds here.
You may be interested in reading ' How Your Dyslexic Child Can Become a Fluent Reader' here which looks at the key areas you need to address to help your child.