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How to Spot Dyslexia

How to Spot Dyslexia: When to “Wait and See”, When to be Concerned, and When to Take Action By Laura Webb, Educational Therapist Have you noticed that your student is “guessing” when they are reading along with you in their favorite book? We want our readers to use the subject they…

How to Spot Dyslexia: When to “Wait and See”, When to be Concerned, and When to Take Action

By Laura Webb, Educational Therapist

Have you noticed that your student is “guessing” when they are reading along with you in their favorite book?

  • Do they fill in the letters at the end of a word that make it a different word but one that could make sense? However, it is not what the author wrote.
  • Do they make up entire words in a sentence?
  • Do they switch around words like “and”, “but”, “the”, “it”, “he” and “they” but they seem to get the gist of the story?
a child with dyslexia trying to read a book

We want our readers to use the subject they are reading about and the pictures they see to make reading easier for them, AND… we want to support the development of their phonics skills!

Using what is called “context clues” is an important part of reading, BUT when does it become a problem area? They may have missed some key aspects of reading. This is a big debate right now in the reading instruction community.

Phonics skills are key to a good reading foundation.

But pointed, multisensory phonics instruction is missing in most classrooms past the 2nd grade. The “wait and see” advice is given to parents because there is a SMALL percentage of kids who just “take off” or start to “get it” after around 2nd or 3rd grade. Only about 10% of readers who were struggling previously just “get it” and never need more help. Would you bet a  child’s scholastic well-being on 10%? 

If your student can not sound out unknown words or reads in a slow, choppy, breathy way, it is better to get them help sooner rather than later. They may be using “guess reading” as a reading strategy and it is now out of hand. We want them to integrate sight words (words that do not follow rules) and decoding skills (for words that do follow rules).

They need BOTH. 

Certain reading struggles can be present early on in school, but there are things that children may actually grow out of, like letter and number reversals. They may not be great spellers early on, but they are able to learn the rules in class and become good spellers by 3rd or 4th grade. These are all valid possibilities. 

teacher tutor providing educational therapy to children with dyslexia

However, if your reader is continuously and consistently struggling, this is when you need to take action.

Dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in reading in an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader. While people with dyslexia are slow readers, they often, paradoxically, are very fast and creative thinkers with strong reasoning abilities” says Yale University.

The dyslexic mind is an amazing and beautiful thing with MANY strengths, including big-picture 3D thinking, creativity, and the ability to innovate. It is not a bad thing in the least, but rather just requires extra attention. 

Even though most schools will not test or diagnose Dyslexia until the 3rd grade, early intervention is key. The dyslexic mind MUST HAVE enough repetition and review of phonemic concepts in order to overcome reading struggles and truly become literate. In fact, “they need 20 times the repetition and review of reading rules and concepts.” (Adapted from Howe, Kathryn 2004 from the Orton Gillingham manual)

If you have questions about any of the indicators I have mentioned above, please reach out and I can help you sort out what is going on for your student.

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