Parents and educators need to know how to recognize dyslexia in children. It is a problem that affects as many as one in six people in the United States and can have devastating effects on a person's life.
Although it is possible for it to go undiagnosed into adulthood, it is more common to diagnose dyslexia in children. By looking for these signs, it is possible to recognize dyslexia early and the earlier a child gets help, the more quickly he can overcome its limitations. Contrary to what many think, dyslexia doesn't only affect reading and writing. It can affect spoken language and gestures, and this can help parents recognize dyslexia before their child is of reading age.
Characteristics to be aware of include:
- Directional Confusion This is the most common symptom people think of when they hear about dyslexia. Confusing letters such as b/d or m/w, or writing words backwards such as "tac" for "cat" are typical signs. However directional confusion is common for any child learning to read or write. Other examples can include being unable to read a map, not being able to tell left from right by the age of five, or being unable to mirror the movements of others.
- Sequencing This is also a common perception of dyslexia. This may mean mixing up letters or syllables in a word, or mixing up words in a sentence. Your child may not be able to recite the days of the week in the correct order.
- Little Words Often dyslexic children have more trouble with small words like "and" or "the" than longer words.
- Late Talking Since dyslexia affects more than just written word, the confusion it creates may inhibit a child from learning to speak. Difficulty learning to talk can also be a symptom of hearing or other disorders and should not be taken lightly.
- Family History Children of a dyslexic parent have a much higher chance of having the condition themselves.
- Left-Handedness Obviously being left-handed by itself is not a symptom of dyslexia, but this is one of several language disorders that are more common in left-handed people.
These tips on how to recognize dyslexia in children merely indicate the possibility of dyslexia. Many of these can be symptomatic of other learning disabilities and a misdiagnosis can delay your child's access to needed help. Neither your child's teacher nor even your child's pediatrician is qualified to diagnose dyslexia, but they can refer you to an appropriate professional (generally a psychologist) who will conduct a comprehensive examination. Dyslexia cannot be cured, but with the right help, many of its limitations can be overcome.