When my daughter was finally acknowledged to have a learning disability, I was relieved she could get some help. I kept getting told she was normal, but I knew she was a lot further behind than my other two children were at her age.
A lot of people mistakenly believe dyslexia is just about backwards letters but it is much more than that. I knew what to look for because my husband is also dyslexic.
The problem is dyslexics learn to adapt, so it is difficult to tell if there is a problem. I remember trying to convince my daughter’s kindergarten and first grade teachers that she had books memorized and was not actually reading. That was one way she learned to adapt so her peers did not know she could not do what they could do.
- Difficulty recognizing shapes. My daughter could get some, but a lot she could not seem to tell the difference between.
- Reading and writing were not just about the reversal of letters, but also involved repetitions, additions, transpositions, omissions, and substitutions of letters. Often a dyslexic will substitute a letter or letters that look similar to the letter they want to write.
- Difficulty putting thoughts into words; speaks in halting phrases; leaves sentences incomplete; stutters under stress; mispronounces long words, or transposes phrases, words, and syllables when speaking. My daughter consistently says “by accidently” rather than “by accident” or “accidently”. Her father makes similar verbal faux pas.
- Trouble with writing or copying. Rewriting a word was often a struggle for both my husband and my daughter, even if the word was right in front of them.
- Computing math shows dependence on finger counting and other tricks. My daughter’s teachers were constantly complaining that she did not have her math facts memorized.
- Can do arithmetic, but fails word problems. Word problem comprehension is a nightmare. I often have to rephrase word problems so that my daughter understands.
- Poor memory for sequences, facts and information that has not been experienced. When helping my daughter do book reports I have to literally ask her, “What happened first?” and “What happened after that?”
- Had unusually early or late developmental stages (talking, crawling, walking, tying shoes).
- Often complain of stomach aches or headaches to avoid going to school.
- Difficulty learning nursery rhymes and rhyming in general. My daughter just did not get that whole concept.
- Difficulty comprehending rapid instructions and processing and understanding what he or she hears.
- Trouble understanding jokes or expressions that have a meaning not easily understood from the specific words (idioms), such as “piece of cake” meaning “easy”. Everything is taken literally!
If you think there is something going on with your child, observe them. Keep a diary of those observations. Keep pushing both the school and your child’s pediatrician for answers. Don’t just let them tell you there is nothing wrong. Dyslexia is often known as word blindness. Graphic designer, Daniel Britton, created typefaces so that the non dyslexic can get a taste of what reading is like for a dyslexic.
There is hope for the dyslexic. Researcher, Christian Boer, has created a free font called the dyslexie font which makes it easier to read and spell. It can be found here or here. There are also thousands of apps available through the internet.