Although 1 in 5 children is dyslexic, less than 30% are ever identified. Most schools and parents wait to evaluate a child with reading difficulties because they assume that it is just a temporary problem and that they will outgrow it. Data from the Connecticut Longitudinal Study conducted by the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity show that, “at least three out of four children who read poorly in third grade continue to have reading problems in high school and beyond. Without identification and proven interventions, virtually all children who have difficulties early on will struggle with reading when they are adults.” The importance of identifying these children and young adults and then providing them with evidence-based reading intervention cannot be overstated. As a country, we cannot afford the economic impact of undiagnosed dyslexia and lack of appropriate interventions.
So how can we identify the signs of dyslexia in an elementary student and beyond? One sign is that the difficulty in naming the letters of the alphabet during the preschool years is followed by trouble with naming the sounds of each letter in elementary school. Blending sounds is even more difficult. I had difficulty in actually hearing the differences between some of the vowels. Children with dyslexia often find reading very difficult and try to avoid it. They often have a terrific fear of reading out loud. Their oral reading may be choppy and slow. There is often a history of poor spelling and they may even find that spell check is unable to autocorrect with the appropriate word. Many dyslexics have difficulty with the rote memorization of information. They often need a little extra time to respond verbally. There is often a history of reading problems in parents or siblings as dyslexia often runs in families. These difficulties are unexpected because their IQ is average to above average. It isn’t a matter of intelligence. Dyslexics have excellent reasoning abilities and seem to get the big picture.
In successful adults, dyslexics can be identified by their lack of reading fluency. They often have trouble pronouncing unusual or uncommon names and words. They prefer books with figures, charts, or graphs. Their spelling often remains disastrous. They continue to avoid situations where they are required to read aloud. These young adults are successful because they have learned to accommodate. Successful dyslexics include people like Steve Jobs, Charles Schwab, Steven Spielberg, and Alexander Graham Bell.
It is important for teachers and parents to educate themselves on the signs of dyslexia. With this knowledge, they have the ability to intervene in the life of a child and ensure that they receive the appropriate intervention necessary for them to succeed. They truly have the power to change the life of a child.