Is my Child Dyslexic?
Home schooling over the past few months has meant that more parents have been contacting me wondering if their child is dyslexic. This new world we find ourselves in has highlighted to some parents that their child is struggling with reading, retention, and spelling.
Many children display dyslexic tendencies, which with some intervention in school may not require further investigation. Others need to be assessed by an educational psychologist, as only they can give a formal diagnosis. Schools have a number of free assessments available to them each year, but these are allocated on a strictly needs basis. Therefore, a child who is masking their difficulties or who is displaying only mild traits might never get assessed through the school system.
The alternative is to get a private assessment done, which financially may not be an option for everyone.
The signs that a child may have dyslexia will look different depending on their age. In pre-school, the child may have a hard time with rhymes or the words of songs. They may struggle with naming things, even though they are familiar with it, and instead use words like thing or stuff or yoke. They might also have trouble remembering things in order like the days of the week or singing the alphabet.
In primary school, the pupil may find sounding out letters and words tricky. They might confuse letters that look similar (b, d, p, q) and letters with similar sounds (b/p, d/t, f/v). Spelling can be difficult for them and when reading, they often struggle to recognise frequently used words.
As they move through primary school, the child may lack fluency in reading; reading slowing and not being able to recall what they read. Spelling can still be an issue, perhaps phonetically correct but the word still spelled incorrectly. A word could be spelled both correctly and incorrectly on the same page. Essays and other assignments cause a lot of stress and tend to be brief.
In secondary school, the issues above continue. I don’t know or I can’t do it become automatic responses. Reading for pleasure happens less and less. On their phone, rather than using word recognition in text, abbreviated text speak is used.
If you do think that your child might be dyslexic then don’t worry. People with dyslexia can be incredible problem solvers and innovators. The ideal characteristics in business leaders and entrepreneurs. They are fantastic with machinery and engineering. They are amazing crafts people, golfers, builders, and snooker players because they can see angles and potential in lumps of rock and clay.
This very ability though, is not a great strategy to run when reading, writing & spelling. The ability to move & manipulate images in your head means that you can also do this with words & letters. Words & letters, however, must remain visible, still and keep their shape for us to read, write and spell. So, a person who does dyslexia needs a different strategy to be able to do this with ease.
A visual strategy, where they learn to control their images works like magic for people who do dyslexia and indeed for anyone who struggles with spelling. The beauty of a visual strategy is that it works for every language as it doesn’t depend on sounds, so the student’s Irish, French, Spanish, Japanese, or any other language also improves. Add meaning to the word and now reading and writing become easy, as does recall.
In school, the reading curriculum is taught with a massive emphasis on phonics – even though English is not a particularly phonetic language. It works reasonably well for most children but for others it doesn’t. They need a completely different strategy, one that compliments their natural abilities. Not shoehorning them into a size that doesn’t fit. Yes, if you push hard enough, they can squeeze into phonics, but they will be hobbling along for the rest of their lives.
It is expected that with intervention and, as happens in schools, focus on phonological awareness, 70% of children will improve their literacy skills. The other 30% will need a different approach. One that focuses on what is called the Direct Access Route. This is crucial to developing fluency in reading & writing. This is what we do at Hummingbird Learning Centre.
To learn more about how Hummingbird Learning Centre can help with Dyslexia, contact Elaine on 087-2996054 or through their website www.hummingbirdlearning.com