Advertisement

HomeLearning DifficultiesLearning Disabilities & ADHDIdentifying a Learning Disability

Should My Child Be Evaluated for Dyslexia?

Page 3 of 4

By Sally Shaywitz, M.D.

Clues to Dyslexia From Second Grade On

Problems in Speaking

  • Mispronunciation of long, unfamiliar, or complicated words; the fracturing of words-leaving out parts of words or confusing the order of the parts of words; for example, aluminum becomes amulium
  • Speech that is not fluent-pausing or hesitating often when speaking, lots of um's during speech, no glibness
  • The use of imprecise language, such as vague references to stuff or things instead of the proper name of an object
  • Not being able to find the exact word, such as confusing words that sound alike: saying tornado instead of volcano, substituting lotion for ocean, or humanity for humidity
  • The need for time to summon an oral response or the inability to come up with a verbal response quickly when questioned
  • Difficulty in remembering isolated pieces of verbal information (rote memory) - trouble remembering dates, names, telephone numbers, random lists

Problems in Reading

  • Very slow progress in acquiring reading skills
  • The lack of a strategy to read new words
  • Trouble reading unknown (new, unfamiliar) words that must be sounded out; making wild stabs or guesses at reading a word; failure to systematically sound out words
  • The inability to read small "function" words such as that, an, in
  • Stumbling on reading multisyllable words, or the failure to come close to sounding out the full word
  • Omitting parts of words when reading; the failure to decode parts within a word, as if someone had chewed a hole in the middle of the word, such as conible for convertible
  • A terrific fear of reading out loud; the avoidance of oral reading
  • Oral reading filled with substitutions, omissions, and mispronunciations
  • Oral reading that is choppy and labored, not smooth or fluent
  • Oral reading that lacks inflection and sounds like the reading of a foreign language
  • A reliance on context to discern the meaning of what is read
  • A better ability to understand words in context than to read isolated single words
  • Disproportionately poor performance on multiple choice tests
  • The inability to finish tests on time
  • The substitution of words with the same meaning for words in the text he can't pronounce, such as car for automobile
  • Disastrous spelling, with words not resembling true spelling; some spellings may be missed by spell check
  • Trouble reading mathematics word problems
  • Reading that is very slow and tiring
  • Homework that never seems to end, or with parents often recruited as readers
  • Messy handwriting despite what may be an excellent facility at word processing-nimble fingers
  • Extreme difficulty learning a foreign language
  • A lack of enjoyment in reading, and the avoidance of reading books or even a sentence
  • The avoidance of reading for pleasure, which seems too exhausting
  • Reading whose accuracy improves over time, though it continues to lack fluency and is laborious
  • Lowered self-esteem, with pain that is not always visible to others
  • A history of reading, spelling, and foreign language problems in family members

In addition to signs of a phonologic weakness, there are signs of strengths in higher-level thinking processes:

  • Excellent thinking skills: conceptualization, reasoning, imagination, abstraction
  • Learning that is accomplished best through meaning rather than rote memorization
  • Ability to get the "big picture"
  • A high level of understanding of what is read to him
  • The ability to read and to understand at a high level overlearned (that is, highly practiced) words in a special area of interest; for example, if his hobby is restoring cars, he may be able to read auto mechanics magazines
  • Improvement as an area of interest becomes more specialized and focused, when he develops a miniature vocabulary that he can read
  • A surprisingly sophisticated listening vocabulary
  • Excellence in areas not dependent on reading, such as math, computers, and visual arts, or excellence in more conceptual (versus factoid-driven) subjects such as philosophy, biology, social studies, neuroscience, and creative writing

Sally Shaywitz, M.D., is the Audrey G. Ratner Professor in Learning Development at the Yale University School of Medicine. She and her husband are codirectors of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. Recognized as one of the country’s top doctors, Shaywitz has devoted her career to helping children and adults who are dyslexic.


Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

07/22/2009:
"Want some additional information, answers to questions, or support? Please consider joining and posting them at the 'Learning and Attention Difficulties' group found here at GS to receive to receive practical suggestions from parents who have faced similar challenges: http://community.greatschools.org/groups/11554"
06/23/2009:
"'Want some additional information, answers to questions, or support? Please consider joining and posting them at the 'Learning and Attention Difficulties' group found here at GS to receive to receive practical suggestions from parents who have faced similar challenges: http://community.greatschools.org/groups/11554'"
04/20/2009:
"I think this article was helpful and accurate except for the the pre-school years section. My daughter was a very early talker, knew all her letters by 18 months (much earlier than my other children), and could rhyme without any trouble. The only noticeable word that she couldn't pronouce as a baby was 'mule'. It was 'mool'. She breezed through kindergarten and first grade,then started having problems reading in 2nd grade. She was tested through the school system, and diagnosed with a non-specified learning disability. Because I wasn't happy with her progress in reading, I finally had her tested outside of the school system when she was entering the 6th grade. She was diagnosed as a 'gifted-dyslexic'. If you have any doubts or concerns about your child's ability to read, have them tested. I know from experience that the early clues are not the same for every child. "
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT