It has only taken until the middle of year 8 for someone to agree with me and say my youngest has dyslexic tendencies!!! I had suggested this way back in her primary years- where her spelling was creative to say the least.
Suffice to say no testing happened in the primary setting- which is not unusual with budgets and resources being what they are. Testing can be done privately but at a cost of around £1000!
Finally, now in year 9 things are beginning to happen, including extra time in classroom assessment, coloured resources, and extra prompts. The next step is for her processing skills to be assessed to enable her to have extra time in her GCSEs in a couple of years.
Ever since she was young, we have often referred to her as our ‘butterfly’ flitting from one thing to another. Starting a conversation and then going off on a tangent. We had always noticed her focus was not great and that she could appear to be listening but be absolutely miles away!
Realising your child is struggling is not easy and although I had concerns when she was at primary, she hid her difficulties well. However, the more independent structure of secondary school started to take its toll. For example, after ‘reading’ a whole class text for over 6 weeks she could not tell me anything that had happened in the book at all.
So, what general traits might your child show that might lead to a possible diagnosis of dyslexia or dyslexic tendencies?
If you think that your child shows 10 or more from the list below, then you may wish to monitor them and maybe have a chat with their teacher/form tutor.
Children with dyslexia may:
- Seem to “Zone out” or daydream often; gets lost easily or loses track of time. On the flip side some become ‘hyper’.
- Isn’t “behind enough” to be helped in the school setting.
- Feels dumb; has poor self-esteem; hides or covers up weaknesses with ingenious compensatory strategies; easily frustrated and emotional about school reading or testing.
- Have a high IQ, but may not do well in written academic tests; performs better orally.
- Appear bright, highly intelligent, and articulate but unable to read, write, or spell at grade level.
- Talented in art, drama, music, sports, mechanics, story-telling, sales, business, designing, building, or engineering.
- Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation, and visual aids.
- Have excellent long-term memory for experiences, locations, and faces.
- Have poor memory for sequences, facts and information that has not been experienced.
- Think primarily with images and feelings, not sounds or words (little internal dialogue).
Developmentally they may:
- Be extremely disorderly or compulsively orderly.
- Have been unusually early or late reaching developmental stages (talking, crawling, walking, tying shoes).
- Be prone to ear infections; sensitive to foods, additives, and chemical products.
- Be an extra deep or light sleeper.
- Have unusually high or low tolerance for pain.
- Have a strong sense of justice; emotionally sensitive; strives for perfection.
- Struggle more under time pressure, when suffering emotional stress or poor health.
In school they can often be thought of as being:
- Lazy, careless, immature, “not trying hard enough,” or a “behaviour problem.”
- The class clown, a trouble-maker, or too quiet.
In reading and writing they may:
- Read and reread with little comprehension.
- Spell phonetically and inconsistently.
- Transpose, repeat, omit, substitute and/or reverse letters, numbers and/or words.
- Get confused by letters, numbers, words, sequences, or verbal explanations.
- Complain of feeling unwell when reading.
- Struggle to copy from whiteboards in lessons and read black ink on white paper.
- Seem to have vision problems, yet eye exams don’t reveal a problem.
- Be ambidextrous, and often confuses left/right, over/under.
- Have trouble with writing or copying; pencil grip is unusual; handwriting varies or is illegible.
- Be clumsy and struggle with co-ordination; and fine and/or gross motor skills and tasks; be prone to motion-sickness.
In their hearing and speech, you may notice that they:
- Hear things not said or apparent to others; easily distracted by sounds.
- Have difficulty putting thoughts into words; speak in short phrases; leave sentences incomplete; stutter under stress; mispronounce long words, or transpose phrases, words, and syllables when speaking.
In their mathematical studies they:
- May have difficulty telling time, managing time, learning sequenced information or tasks, or being on time.
- May show dependence on finger counting and other tricks; know answers but can’t record this on paper.
- Can count but may have difficulty counting objects and dealing with money.
- Can do arithmetic but may fail word problems; and find algebra or higher math difficult.
So, what can you do?
- Read about dyslexia and the possible difficulties it often causes. There are plenty of books about dyslexia, here are a few to get you started:
- The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald David;
- Dyslexia Wonders: Understanding the Daily life of a Dyslexic From a Child’s Point of View by Jennifer Smith;
- The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning by Ben Foss
- Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz.
- Offer help and support. Make sure your child understands that their brain works in a different way and that there is nothing wrong with this. Help your child to create strategies to help them.
- Talk to the school. Ask for help and strategies you could use to help your child.
- Invest in some resources to help your child with areas in which they struggle.
This is only guidance. If you wish to have your child assessed for dyslexia, you will need to get in contact with their school.