STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. According to the International Dyslexia Association, one in five people are affected by dyslexia, making it the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties.
While children are unique and develop and learn at their own pace, there are some common signs that they are struggling with acquiring these skills. If your child is falling behind his or her peers academically, especially in reading and spelling, it is possible that he or she has a learning disability known as dyslexia.
The signs of dyslexia can appear as early as preschool. The earlier intervention begins, the easier it is for children to learn these skills. Ideally, by understanding what to look for, children can receive support before they begin to struggle. According to dyslexia researcher Sally Shaywitz, M.D., these are some signs to look for, starting in the earliest years through adulthood. Her book “Overcoming Dyslexia” is an excellent resource.
Common signs of dyslexia
- Trouble learning nursery rhymes
- Difficulty learning letter names, including letters in their own name
- Mispronounces familiar words
- Difficulty rhyming
- Family history of reading and/or spelling difficulties — dyslexia is hereditary
Kindergarten and first grade
- Reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters on the page (saying “puppy,” instead of the written word “dog”)
- Complains that reading is hard
- Cannot sound out even simple words, like “cat”
- Does not associate letters with their sounds
- Difficulty learning sequential information, like months of the year
Second grade through high school
- Very slow in acquiring reading skills
- Difficulty reading unfamiliar words
- Trouble remembering dates, names and lists
- Struggles to finish tests on time
- Poor spelling
- Messy handwriting
- Low self-esteem
- Childhood history of reading/spelling difficulties
- Reading is slow and effortful
- Rarely reads for pleasure
- Suffers extreme fatigue when reading
Strengths often shown by people with dyslexia throughout life
- Great imagination
- High level of listening comprehension
- Sophisticated vocabulary
- High capacity to learn
- Excellent writing skills when focused on content, not spelling
- Thinks outside the box
While every person with dyslexia is unique, these are some common behaviors to look for. If you notice that your child is struggling, start by reaching out to your child’s teacher. Many people with dyslexia have gone on to be leaders in their fields, not in spite of but because of being dyslexic.
Joy McIntosh and Kim Schulz are part of the team of reading experts at Steamboat Reading. Visit steamboatreading.org for more information.