Frequently Asked Questions
What does dyslexia look like?
The difficulty is that symptoms are different for each person, but there are similar patterns of learning that consistently suggest testing for dyslexia may be necessary. Some of them are:
- Difficulty following directions
- Grammar is confused, either when speaking or writing, or both
- Makes spelling mistakes
- Slow, laborious oral reading
- Does not retain word knowledge, has to be taught the same words over and over
- Misreads or omits common small words when reading (the, where, who, etc.)
- Difficulty putting words on paper
- Difficulty proofreading
- Poor or slow handwriting
- Difficulty memorizing math facts
- Difficulty copying
If my child has dyslexia, what can I do?
As a parent, you want to be certain that the teachers and the school program understand the uniqueness of this learning pattern, and that trying a few things is not sufficient. There is a great deal of research now on proven methods of instruction to help poor readers who do not decode well, have difficulty with mainstream school, and need more.
- Instruction from trained reading instructors is critical, teachers who are trained in methods that have proven success for poor readers.
- Two times a week is not usually sufficient; progress can only be made if reading and language arts instruction is intensive and consistent; daily is best.
- If a child works with a reading instructor in school, but is in a mainstream classroom all other parts of the day, the school team must coordinate how to expect the same child to succeed in the regular classroom if he/she reads below grade level.
- Step by step methods to introduce sounds, review them, and practice them must be taught.
- Instruction must be explicit, that is, methods used to teach reading, spelling, and writing are designed for this poor reader.
- Instruction must be systematic, not varying week to week.
- Multisensory is a key word to engage one’s ability to learn visually, auditorily, and kinesthetically as well as appealing to the child’s ability to reason. (Most people who are diagnosed with dyslexia are intelligent and reason well).
How is the diagnosis of dyslexia made?
The diagnosis must be made by a skilled, doctoral level clinician who has been trained to assess difficulties with learning, attention, and language. Sometimes a team works together, like a psychologist and a speech/language therapist. An extensive combination of tests to assess processing, school achievement in reading, math, and other areas, and numerous language tests must be included. Detailed anecdotal information is essential to describe the patterns one observes in the person, as well as an extensive family background to investigate patterns in other family members.
What is ADHD, and what does it look like?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has two major types, inattentive, or, impulsivity with hyperactivity. The inattentive type is the most difficult to diagnose because there are few easily observable actions. The impulsive/hyperactive type can still be subtle such as kicking one’s foot under the school desk, needing to move frequently, overly chatty, difficulty staying at school desk or the dinner table. Hyperactivity does not mean out of control, some children/adults show poor attention with movement, some do not, to say it in the simplest form. Some hallmarks are:
- Poor attention span, daydreams
- Variable attention and restlessness
- Impulsivity, fidgets
- Difficulty planning activities
- Loses track of thoughts
- Distracted by noise or motion
- Difficulty focusing on details
- Struggles to follow directions, need them repeated often
- Difficulty starting and stopping
My child can read but does not succeed in school. Why?
Learning is complex. Your child may be struggling because of underlying language problems which can include difficulty in thinking, speaking or writing language. Dyslexia is a language-based learning problem in the language center of the brain. Your child may also struggle with planning schoolwork, completing assignments, and keeping up with directions. Any of these difficulties will show in his/her performance. A good and thorough evaluation will sort out all these questions.