What is dyslexia?
The first signs of dyslexia can be visible as early as a child starts to speak. Dyslexia is a neurological condition that affects reading.
Struggling to match letters and sounds or vocabulary and reading is one of the first signs of dyslexia. This struggle becomes more prominent when attempting to develop reading fluency, comprehension, and writing skills. In addition to reading slowly, a common part of dyslexia is skipping words or taking long pauses between reading. As a result, they may often lose their place and find comprehension difficult.
Reading, writing, and spelling problems are most commonly due to dyslexia. Children who have dyslexia can still learn to read. They will have to work harder and longer than students who do not have dyslexia.
The First Signs of Dyslexia
1. Being a late-talker
One of the first signs of dyslexia is being a late-talker. A late-talker generally describes a child who can say fewer than 50 words by age 2. Boys are at a higher-risk of being late-talkers. Although many children eventually catch up and reach language milestones, if a child has not reached normal speaking and vocabulary levels by ages 3 and 4, they may be at risk for later issues involving listening, speaking, reading, and writing (Turnball & Justice, 2017).
2. Difficulty in pronouncing words
Another common sign of dyslexia is recognizing that a child has difficulty pronouncing words. In her book, Overcoming Dyslexia (2005), Shaywitz states that another sign of dyslexia is when a child has difficulties pronouncing words clearly by the ages of five and six. A child may leave off the beginning sound for a longer word. They may say pisgetti for spaghetti. They may rearrange the sounds in words. A child may say aminal for animal.
By preschool, children will depend heavily on their oral language-words they can speak to learn to read. If a child has difficulty with forming words clearly, they will not only have trouble with reading, but also experience difficulty with understanding what they read.
Rhyming is a telling first sign of dyslexia. According to Shaywitz, (Overcoming Dyslexia, 2005), children with dyslexia are less sensitive to rhyme. The rhyming patterns in words are not as clear as they are to a typically developing reader. For example, a child with dyslexia will not recognize that sat and mat share the same ending sounds. Children with dyslexia are not able to focus on smaller parts of words. Understanding that words are built from smaller speech sounds is an important skill when learning to read.
4. Trouble learning letter names and sounds
Another common sign of dyslexia becomes visible when a child begins going to school. Once children enter preschool, they start to listen to and sing songs about the alphabet. They memorize the alphabet letter names and sounds. Children can read familiar words after learning a few letter-sound relationships. But if children have difficulty relating the sounds to the letters, they will have difficulty learning to read.
At this point, you might receive a letter from the school that your child is behind in reading. If you are a homeschool parent, you are starting to notice that after many practices and repetitions, your child still has trouble remembering the alphabet letter names and sounds. Leanring to read is hard for your child and they may exhibiting signs of dyslexia.
Help for Dyslexia
Intervention must begin as soon as a problem becomes apparent. A speech therapist can help a child develop their oral language skills. Emerging readers will depend on their oral language when learning to read. The more words they know, the more words they can read!
Once children enter school, it’s important to closely monitor their progress. Letter naming and letter sound fluency is important. This means that children need to be able to recall the letter names and sounds quickly and accurately. Remember, children with dyslexia will need more time and practice. Stay the course.
The next step is to continue teaching the child to read using a structured literacy program. This means that a program should build from easy-to hard. It should teach kids to match letters to sounds to read words.
Schools typically provide additional support for older students who have dyslexia. Usually, learning and reading specialists create reading plans to support children who have dyslexia. As children get older, accommodations may include text-to-speech tools, audiobooks, extra time during testing, help with taking notes, along with other strategies.
Viva Phonics is a structured literacy program that helps kids with dyslexia learn to read. Our program resources have been optimized for online learning. Don’t wait. Schedule a free reading skills check today.