Many times as parents we do not begin to see early dyslexia symptoms that our children have been displaying. My child was diagnosed at the age of six. This was when I began studying more about dyslexia. The more I read and researched the more I realized that the clues began at an early age. Although six is still considered early for diagnosis, I could not help but to feel a little guilty at my ignorance.
Here are some of the signs I missed:
* Difficulty Retrieving Words – my child would often say “have you seen my blue thing?” To which I would always have to reply. “What thing?” What I did not understand or know to pick up on was that my child was demonstrating the difficulty that some dyslexics have with word retrieval. Instead of having to come up with the word he would use generic words such as “thing” or “stuff”. He would also have a tendency to describe an item in detail, without having to recall a specific word. For example, if he could not come up with the word car. He would describe it as “the thing with wheels, that we get into, and we go.”
* Difficulty Rhyming Words – around the age of three many of my sons friends would happily play around the playground, singing out rhyming words. Sometimes they were real words, and sometimes they were nonsense words, but they still rhymed nonetheless. Although my son would say a few words here and there he did not show the delight that the other children had in creating these rhymes. Because the part of dyslexia can include difficulty isolating the sounds of words, it is often hard for these children to isolate early sound in order to change it to make the rhyming word.
* Directional Words – directional words may include right, left, up, down, before, after, yesterday, or today. I can remember at the age of three, my son would tell me things that he did. The sentence would sound something like, “I went swimming tomorrow and had a lot of fun.” I thought this was cute and comment for a three year old. However, it was yet another red flag that I messed.
* Sees Every Word for the First Time – as my son entered and progressed through kindergarten, it is no surprise that reading became a frustrating event in our house. Very often, my son would come to a word in a book that he needed to sound out. He could do this successfully, then turn the page and would run into the same word. However, instead of recognizing the word he just read, it was as if he had never seen the work before. This is an extremely common trait among children with dyslexia.
* Sight Words – “Sight words” are very important in today's curriculum. Sight words are small words that are often used in the written language. For example, be, what, are, with, etc. The idea is that reading will be much more fluent if a student can glance at these words, and know them by sight, rather than having to sound it out. These can be extremely difficult for the dyslexic student. Nightly homework in kindergarten involved training, how fast my son could read a list of 30 words. The goal is 30 words in 30 seconds. My son tended to average around a minute and 30 seconds.
Every child at some point may display one or more of these signs. It does not mean they are all dyslexic. However, if I had known what to look for, each of these signs should have been setting off a bell in my head along the way. In hindsight, by the end of kindergarten, I should have had enough evidence to have my child tested. I allowed myself to fall into the “give it a little more time” excuse. If you suspect a child has dyslexia or any other type of learning disability, you should take action immediately.