In the quiz “Is My Child Dyslexic” there are ten questions. Knowing the purpose of each of these questions can help you to best determine what your best next steps are. Below, I’ll be going into each question and what it means.
How old is your child?
Your child shouldn’t be expected to do anything that isn’t developmentally appropriate for their age. Keeping in mind their age and exposure to reading, writing, and spelling are an important aspect of evaluating if your child is actually struggling with any of these skills.
If you have a child 5 or less and you’re worried about dyslexia, I encourage you to practice a lot of phonemic awareness skills with them and be sure they have a solid phonics foundation when they are taught reading. These approaches are actually perfect for EVERY child so there’s no risk of doing the wrong thing with your kiddo!
If your child is beginning to read and is struggling, keep in mind that there can be so many reasons for it. Yes, there may be a learning disability such as dyslexia, but first consider how much time they’ve had to practice the new skills. Have they been exposed as much as other kids their age? Also consider- how interested are they in learning to read? If they have no interest, then there will probably be some struggles! Check out this episode on motivating through a child’s interests!
If you have an older child who has been trying to learn to read for years and is still behind peers in reading and spelling, then you have good reason to be concerned and an intervention as soon as possible is important! Finding out the root cause of that struggle is the best first step in figuring out how to approach the struggles.
How strong is your child with rhyming?
Rhyming is a fun childhood game, linguistic tool, and more. It also requires good phonological processing! Rhyming requires the phonemic awareness skills of segmenting the word to be able to then delete a sound and replace it with a new sound and THEN blend it back together.
The more your child struggles with these skills, the more likely that they have a phonological processing disorder, which is directly tied to dyslexia. Intensive practice in breaking these skills down is important! You can work on these with a tutor, do it yourself, or as a hybrid in my new program: Word Warriors. If you want to do it all yourself, check out my episode on Phonemic Awareness for some step-by-step instructions to get you started!
How is your child doing with reading?
There are many reasons for a child to struggle with reading, and a struggle with learning to read doesn’t have to mean that your child has dyslexia. There can be a lack of exposure, a lack of practice, a lack of interest, a different learning disability, or another factor!
So a struggle with reading is a CLUE, but only a small one! Before worrying too much, consider if your child just needs more practice and start by finding books they want to read! Check out the podcast episode: Learning Should be Fun! Part 1- Reading.
When shown a nonsense word such as “lasp”, can your child read it?
A child’s approach to unknown words gives us a clue as to whether or not they have a strong phonemic awareness and phonics foundation. If your child sees “lasp” and changes it “last” or “lisp”- let them know that it’s not a real word and you just want them to use the sounds of the word to figure it out.
Kids who struggle with using phonics to decode words can, again, just be suffering from a lack of practice or insufficient instruction. It may or may not be dyslexia, but you’re going to want to up your phonics game!
If your kid is older, try a more complex nonsense word like “prelasper”. How do they do? You might need to work on some multi-syllable phonics skills!
Does your child have difficulty with producing speech sounds?
Early difficulty with speech production can be an early indicator of dyslexia. Again, there can also be a lot of other reasons for speech difficulty, such as a tongue tie or other medical condition.
For their age, how well does your child converse?
Many children with dyslexia also struggle with language in general. They may struggle to put thoughts into words, or to follow a conversation. Keep in mind that children are all developing and comparing them to just one other kid their age won’t give you enough perspective regarding their ability. If you have any doubts or concerns, look into a speech and language evaluation.
What is your child's approach to spelling?
As discussed with the reading component, being able to spell can be difficult for children with dyslexia because it requires phonemic awareness and phonics. If kids don’t have the word memorized, they need to say the word, think about each sound in the word, and apply their phonics knowledge to write a letter that represents each sound, IN ORDER!
This is super hard for a lot of kids with dyslexia and should be tackled head-on with direct instruction in phonics-based spelling. And, of course, kids can also struggle with this because of a lack of sufficient phonics instruction, so that same intervention will still be highly valuable!
How neatly does your child write?
Many children with dyslexia struggle with printing or cursive. Their letters don’t follow letter formation rules and are very difficult for others to read. If this is the only “symptom” your child is exhibiting, there is probably a reason other than dyslexia. On the other hand, if they have poor phonemic awareness, poor phonics, poor spelling, poor reading, struggle with language, and have poor hand-writing, you might just have a dyslexic on your hands!
As with phonics, writing instruction should be explicit. Some dyslexia programs have letter formation practice built into the program, and there are also stand-alone programs. You can also just work carefully and intentionally on it yourself!
How is your child's memory?
Dyslexia often brings with it difficulty with memory. The picture/word connection can be challenging for kids with dyslexia. This will lead them to taking a lot longer than peers to learn the sounds of letters, “sight words”, and even the names of objects they use every day.
How well can your child follow directions?
This question is related to a child’s language capacity. If they are able to converse easily, they can probably follow directions easily. However, conversation can sometimes be more about the child’s ability to talk and following directions is more about a child’s ability to listen. There is also a memory component to this one. So this question is designed to look at the connection between language and memory, both of which can be a struggle for kids with dyslexia.
What did you learn?
If after going through all of that, you are thinking, “I’ve got to help my kid!”, know that help is available! There are tutors such as myself who specialize in working with children with dyslexia. They are phenomenal and worth every penny. But it’s a big time and money commitment. You can also teach your child yourself, possibly with a high-quality dyslexia-specific program as your guide. Or, you can join my new hybrid tutoring/coaching program: “Word Warriors”, where you will learn how to tutor your child while I get you both started on the right foot with live tutoring sessions! Just click here to find out more!