Updated: Mar 4
To help a child who has dyslexia, you first have to recognise that there is a problem and trusting your intuition can be invaluable here.
Recognition is the first step to getting the appropriate help for your child. If the school doesn’t recognise that there is a persistent, underlying issue behind your child’s difficulties in reading, spelling or writing , then they will not be using appropriate programmes which can help your child to progress.
In many cases, it has been the parent who has flagged up a problem to the school and asked if the signs their child shows could be dyslexia.
How do you recognise the signs of dyslexia?
First of all think about your child's medical history. We know that premature babies tend to have more difficulties with their learning. Glue ear and persistent ear infections at an early age can also lead to your child not being able to hear speech sounds correctly which will hinder them acquiring literacy skills. Prematurity and glue ear don't always lead to dyslexia but you should be aware that they can at least lead to difficulties in acquiring the first skills required for reading.
The very first signs that your child may have dyslexia are not being able to march/clap in a rhythm to nursery rhymes and they may have had speech difficulties from an early age. Not all children with speech difficulties have dyslexia but it is another early warning sign and you should keep a close eye on their learning development.
Professor Goswami has led much research into rhythm and why this is a problem. She believes it is because the brain is slightly out of time with the rhythm of language which leads to dyslexic people hearing words slightly differently to the rest of the population.
Goswami has also led a lot of research into the skills children initially develop to become good readers and one of these skills is understanding and being able to produce rhyming words. So another first sign is your child being unaware of rhyme ( end sounds are the same) and alliteration ( start sounds are the same)
Reading problems can be the most obvious sign once your child has started school.
To be able to read fluently, your child will need to be able to decode words by looking at the letters in a word and recognising the sounds that those letters make. Eventually, they will recognise ( visually) the whole word and know what sounds the letters make ( automatically without having to think about it).
A dyslexic child will find it difficult to put sounds and letters together and then find it difficult and slow to recall whole words they have learnt.
You will see varying degrees of difficulty - some will find it very difficult to move on from sounding out ( and may experience real problems with sounding out too), others learn the whole word but can't split words up into individual sounds.
However, some children appear to read well but other signs of dyslexia can be more obvious. These can include:
Not being able to spell ( either single words in a test, or words in a longer piece of writing or both)
Not being able to get their ideas written down
Not understanding what they have just read
Taking longer than normal to understand and follow instructions ( meaning class work is never finished)
Having difficulty learning times tables and not understanding maths word problems
Taking much longer to complete homework ( especially written work)
Being disorganised ( and their written work being disorganised)
Your child may not show all of these signs, but some can be prevalent.
If there is a problem with understanding what has been read, then they will need help to develop certain skills to overcome the weaknesses which lead to this. If they can’t get their ideas down on paper, then they need a good writing model to follow.
If you are concerned that your child may have dyslexia, then please contact me to discuss this further. I offer full diagnostic assessments as well as more informal screenings.
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