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Clues to Dyslexia in Early Childhood

By: Sally E. Shaywitz
The earliest clues involve mostly spoken language. The very first clue to a language (and reading) problem may be delayed language. Once the child begins to speak, look for difficulties with rhyming, phonemic awareness, and the ability to read common one-syllable words.

The specific signs of dyslexia, both weaknesses and strengths, in any one individual will vary according to the age and educational level of that person. The five-year-old who can't quite learn his letters becomes the six-year-old who can't match sounds to letters and the fourteen-year-old who dreads reading out loud and the twenty-four-year-old who reads excruciatingly slowly. The threads persist throughout a person's life.

The earliest clues involve mostly spoken language. The very first clue to a language (and reading) problem may be delayed language. Once the child begins to speak, look for the following problems:

The preschool years

  • Trouble learning common nursery rhymes such as "Jack and Jill" and "Humpty Dumpty"
  • A lack of appreciation of rhymes
  • Mispronounced words; persistent baby talk
  • Difficulty in learning (and remembering) names of letters
  • Failure to know the letters in his own name

Kindergarten and first grade

  • Failure to understand that words come apart; for example, that batboy can be pulled apart into bat and boy, and later on, that the word bat can be broken down still further and sounded out as: "b" "aaa" "t"
  • Inability to learn to associate letters with sounds, such as being unable to connect the letter b with the "b" sound
  • Reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters; for example, the word big is read as goat
  • The inability to read common one-syllable words or to sound out even the simplest of words, such as mat, cat, hop, nap
  • Complaints about how hard reading is, or running and hiding when it is time to read
  • A history of reading problems in parents or siblings

In addition to looking for indications of problems in speaking and reading, here are some indications of strengths to look for and applaud in your child:

  • Curiosity
  • A great imagination
  • The ability to figure things out
  • Eager embrace of new ideas
  • Getting the gist of things
  • A good understanding of new concepts
  • Surprising maturity
  • A large vocabulary for the age group
  • Enjoyment in solving puzzles
  • Talent at building models
  • Excellent comprehension of stories read or told to him

Many of these indicate strengths in higher-level thinking processes.

Excerpted and adapted from: Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level

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Comments

I think I have dyslexia and I want to get better at reading just don't know the steps to take.

I have a younger brother with dyslexia. It seems that my parents always focused on the positive sides of it when he was growing up; it is great to see that there are indicators that are both positive and negative.

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