For a small percentage of children (10-15% is a conservative estimate), the process of learning to read does not proceed smoothly. Parents may read to these children, but find they have little interest in learning letter names, letter sounds, sight words, or other early reading skills. These children are often exposed to letters, print, and phonics for several years, but the skills don’t seem to “stick”. They can’t remember the information, or they reverse letters that look similar (b,d,p,g,q), or they substitute words that look or sound similar (cat/car, in/on, bed/dad, etc). These are bright children who want to learn to read. They put out such effort, but the ability to recognize words does not become automatic. When they scan a line of text, their pace is slow and hesitant as they try to “pull” words from memory. They lose their place and skip lines. They can only work for a few minutes before becoming tired or “bored”. Their ability to write letters and words is often as inaccurate as their reading.
What should parents do? Many parents are aware that there is a problem before their child even starts kindergarten. They’ve been watching and working with their child for years. Maybe there are older (or younger!) siblings who have picked up these skills with ease. By the time a child finishes one or two years of formal schooling, he or she is well aware that their skills are not at a level with their peers. Don’t believe anyone who tells you “kids don’t compare”—it isn’t true! ALL the children in a class can tell you who is the best reader, and who is the worst.
Parents may try talking with school personnel, but there is a strong culture of not “recognizing” dyslexia or a significant reading disability until a child is at least in third grade. By this time, not only has valuable time for remedial instruction been lost, but most children are seriously discouraged and feel bad about themselves as learners. For any child with a reading disability, sooner is always better in terms of diagnosis. A skilled, comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation along with appropriate academic testing is the best way to find out whether your child has a reading disability, how significant it is, and what types of remedial instruction will give your child the best chance of learning to compensate for the problem. This type of testing is reliable as early as kindergarten.
Our services can provide the diagnosis parents seek, along with the best recommendations for remedial services. Click here to find out more.