By Eve Glicksman, Staff Writer, myOptumHealth
As a preschooler, Hunter was slow in adding new words to his vocabulary. When he started school, he couldn't understand the connection between letters and sounds. By fifth grade, this child who was bright in many other ways was reading below grade level and had trouble with writing and spelling.
Hunter's mother thought something might be wrong and brought her son to a learning specialist. Testing showed that Hunter had dyslexia, a learning disability that made it hard for him to process words and numbers.
Dyslexia is a condition of the nervous system. Children are born with this condition and it can run in families. Recognizing and sounding out words is a struggle. People with this disorder cannot easily pair up sounds with the letter symbols for the sounds. They mix up letters in words, such as reading "not" as "ton," for example. They read slowly and do not understand much of what they read.
How to recognize dyslexia
Dyslexia is usually spotted in children by a school psychologist or learning specialist. It is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties among children in school. Kids with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have dyslexia than other children.
Signs that a child might have dyslexia include:
- High intelligence, but poor reading skills
- Repeated reading and spelling errors, such as letter or word reversals
- Difficulty finishing tests and assignments on time
- Poor memory skills
- Problems with writing and composition
- Confusion with directions, such as left from right, up from down
If dyslexia is suspected, a physical exam is recommended. In addition, standardized tests are often given to measure language, reading, spelling and writing skills.
There is no cure for dyslexia, but you can help your child to work around it and become successful. A trained teacher or reading specialist can show your child strategies to improve common reading and spelling problems.
- Dyslexia Awareness and Resource Center. What is dyslexia? Accessed: 12/02/2008
- University of Maryland Medical Center. Developmental reading disorder overview. Accessed: 12/02/2008
- International Dyslexia Association. Is my child dyslexic? Accessed: 12/02/2008