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Dyslexia: What to Look for

September 5, 2015

by Sue Douglass Fliess

Is it normal for a child to have delayed speech or letter identification? A lack of interest in books with a lot of text? When should parents be concerned that their child has dyslexia?

First of all, be careful. Dyslexia in preschoolers is extremely hard to diagnose because many of its symptoms are developmentally common for all preschoolers. However, the more symptoms that are present, and the longer they persist, the more likely it is that your child may need some help. True dyslexia is often marked by a combination of signs and a lack of progress over time.

What kind of combination are we talking about? Laura L. Bailet, Ph.D., and executive director of Nemours BrightStart! Dyslexia Initiative, says a family history of dyslexia, serious reading and spelling difficulty, and delayed speech and language development could be signs that when combined, are a red flag of possible dyslexia. Other early symptoms include:

As a parent, you can help in a number of ways. But in general, any activity that builds vocabulary, listening skills, and understanding of print will be beneficial. Dr. Bailet suggests the following:

Even if you do all of these activities, Dr. Bailet says, you won’t be able to ensure that your child doesn’t struggle with dyslexia. “But by engaging in daily activities to build language and literacy skills, your child will be better prepared for school and you may prevent serious reading difficulty for him or her.” At the very least, you’ll be able to recognize ready trouble early on. Most dyslexia isn’t recognized until the 3rd grade, or later.

That’s unfortunate. Because beginning early “with appropriate reading methods, starting in kindergarten, gives each child the best chance for becoming a successful reader,” Bailet says. So stop worrying and start rhyming! Anything you can do to build a love for words will help your preschooler, dyslexic, or not.

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