Where do I start, I think my child has dyslexia?

Before we say to much, Your child can read, just in a different way.

This question comes up all the time. First off you have to know if your child truly has dyslexia and as a special educator, I can tell you that psychologists and teachers, including myself can not diagnose your child with dyslexia. The hard part is that many doctors will say they can’t diagnose and send you back to the school but there are some that will send you to a neurologist and they will do testing to determine diagnosis. I can give you a few warning signs to help you determine diagnosis.

Warning signs:
1. When they begin to read and someon is teaching them phonics they learn the sounds well but are unable to blend them. They will say /d/, /o/, /g/ and say it slow or fast and over and over but they can’t put it together. Someone ends up telling them it is dog.
2. Your child was unable to improve reading with phonics or even learn to read with phonics but they can read through sight words. This is because a child with dyslexia will learn to memorize what the word looks like. For instance dog, after they have been told and get to feel stupid will do their best to look at that word and memorize what it looks like but not the letters. They see the first letter d and then that it goes across and there is a dip in the word downward at the end. This is the same way they memorize all the sight words. This is why many of them are not caught until closer to 3rd, 4th, even 5th grade. They learn to cope and do ok. So lets talk about what you will see in the kids that have made it past K,1 without everyone pulling their hair out.
3. Spelling is atrocious. They struggle to spell because they have been learning to read visually as to what the word looks like not the letters. So this is frustrating. If they create a word that looks pretty well like the other word, that is a sign, but only if that word is in their sight word vocab.
4. When reading, usually around 4th grade, they hit a block and start skipping words that are long or filling in a word that makes since in context. This is a major warning sign. Sometimes they will fill in a word and see that it doesn’t make since and go back and fix it to a word that does make since, could be right, could be wrong.
5. They comprehend really well when someone reads the story to them. They are very good with comprehension usually.
6. When they start to read, they will many times give a deep breath out or something that shows they are tired before they even start.

Take these things and then add the usual strenghts for a child with dyslexia.
(usually strong in one of these areas)

Mechanical- take things apart and can put them back together, fixes things in creative ways that work, strong logic skills
Artistic- Paint, draw, fashion design, architecture, hair design, etc.
People skills- very sensitive, compassionate, think political, pastor, counselor, psychologist
Athletic- Really good at a sport
Intuition- strikes you that they can be so in tune with things
Musically gifted- they don’t read printed music, but they play by ear. Comes natural
3D visualization- they think in pictures. They can see things from a very different perspective visually.
Very curious- want to know the why for everything. (beyond 3 years old)
If you truly feel your child has dyslexia, skip this next section (scroll to the ***)

If you are reading this and you were sure you were right but don’t think so reading this then you can try some simple things that are more related to a students vision and issues going on there. Sometimes people will think that a child has dyslexia and they really don’t. If you are pretty certain they have dyslexia do not try anything from this next section, it WILL NOT WORK. These kids will sometimes respond to things like #1 colored overlays. These are what we use to use for overhead projectors to write on, but now we use powerpoint. Anyhow, they still sale them at office depot and such. The rose, purple, blue colors usually work best. Cut them down to smaller size for easier use in books. Have your child cover the pages they are attempting to read with these overlays. This lowers the contrast of what they are reading. Lowering the contrast makes it easier to read because it is the contrast that typically causes this population to suffer. #2 tracking skills, have them use an index card or ruler to follow line by line or even cut a hole out of the index card and let them only see one or two words at a time to read. #3 Vision Therapy. #4 Brain Gym Activities- helps create more connections between left and right side of the brain.

************Dyslexia Solutions***************

Children with dyslexia need to be taught reading differently. Phonics based programs will not work because they don’t have the essential tools they need for phonics to work and if you are at this point, you probably know they know the sounds, they just can’t do what they need to with them.

There was a great deal of research done a while back on reading where a couple of researchers developed a program. Their last names were Orton and Gillingham. The program they originally developed was Orton-Gilligham. You can google Orton-Gillingham and find a whole list of programs that have been adapted and based off of their practices. You can locate the original Orton-Gillingham program, but here is the list of some of the others.

Language!
Teach 1st
Slingerland
Barton Reading and Spelling
Alphabetic Phonics
Project Read

Personalized Tutoring: Read about Kids of the King Tutoring Services Online

This is a few of them. You can google any of them and find them and others. You can’t just have the program though. Whoever is working with your child needs to be well trained and using the program correctly. These programs have intensive training and if not used correctly, then they still won’t work. I should note that if you want to teach your child yourself, and not find someone to help you usng an Orton-illingham based program then you will want to go with the Barton Reading and Spelling because she sends you the training videos to watch and get yourself well trained to do it on your own. I wish I could give you a simpler solution, but this is the best solution. If you want to find a school that uses Orton-Gillingham because you have school choice, then after finding one that says they use it, ask if their teacher that they are assigned is certified for the Orton-Gillingham program being used. If not, they may not use it correctly and this won’t get you anywhere.

If your child has dyslexia, please don’t use phonics programs, they are good and will work with other kids but not them. I won’t list these, but if you are wandering about one and whether or not it is phonics based or orton-gillingham based, feel free to reply to this post and I will give you an answer.

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2 Responses to “Where do I start, I think my child has dyslexia?”


  1. 1 Lesley June 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    This sounds like my son. He is 6 and did horrible on Dibels screenings all last year (in Kindergarten). He knows all his letters and letter sounds (he does confuse d and b a little, but not bad).

    I started working with him a lot when school got out 2 weeks ago. I am using All About Spelling. I had ordered Barton Level 1 — and I am going to start it soon.

    After 2-3 days with the letter tiles from All About Spelling he could start to segment words. He can blend now.

    He couldn’t blend 2-letter words like at, up, it, an, am — that he knew the sounds for, and he could say the sounds. He can now for 2- and 3- letter words.

    He’s about to get to consonant blends in All About Spelling — if he can do them, great, if not I am going to try Barton for it.

    It is so frustrating b/c there are all these things to have him learn to segment words and he can’t do it, and then it is like — do these things with your child, he is failing assesments, and they don’t work. I am glad to be finding something that helps.

  2. 2 Gail September 10, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Thank you! This was most helpful.


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Lynnette Crawley M.S. Ed

As an educational consultant, I work with families, students, adults, parents, teachers, schools and corporations in relationship to the many disabilities affecting their lives. Many times all anyone needs is a little coaching, direction or tools to close the gap between where they are and where they should be. Making progress is not good enough. We must be closing the gap. Email: everyonecanlearn@ymail.com

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