The research is clear. The sooner a child is identified as dyslexic and receives the right kind of help, the better that child’s chances for long-term academic, emotional, and career success. That’s why in recent years dyslexia experts, educators, advocacy groups, and policy makers have come together to urge that all children be screened for dyslexia.
Although many states have now passed laws requiring dyslexia screening, very few schools currently have good screening programs in place. For now, the responsibility of ensuring good dyslexia screening falls largely upon parents.
While screening is important for all children, it is essential for children who show certain signs which indicate that their likelihood of dyslexia is especially high.
What are the signs that you should screen your child for dyslexia?
Signs You Should Screen Your Child: Signs Independent Of Reading
One common and especially important risk factor is a family history of dyslexia.
• Dyslexia has a very strong inherited component
• Every child who has a parent, sibling, or grandparent with a history of dyslexia or other language-based learning challenge should be screened for dyslexia
• Even when other family members have shown signs suggesting dyslexia but have never been appropriately tested, all children in that family should be screened
• Screening children who have such family risk factors for dyslexia is essential, whether or not those children show obvious signs of dyslexia (which we’ll discuss below).
Here are several other risk factors that if noticed by first or second grade should also lead screening:
• Lack of interest in or understanding of rhymes
• Frequent or unusual errors pronouncing or hearing words
• Stuttering or special difficulties putting thoughts into words
• Lack of interest in being read to
Signs You Should Screen Your Child: Signs During Reading or Pre-Reading Activities
Other signs of higher dyslexia risk are more directly connected with reading or “pre-reading” activities. Some signs may be seen early in the process of learning to read. Others (lower down in our list) become apparent only after months to several years of schooling. These reading-related signs of dyslexia risk include:
• Difficulty learning the names of the letters of the alphabet, and/or the sounds that go with each
• Difficulty learning to recognize simple words “by sight”
• Difficulty learning to recognize that words can be broken down into their component sounds (for example, that the word “bat” can be broken down into the sounds /b/a/t/)
• Difficulty learning to manipulate the component sounds in words (for example, reversing the sounds in words, such that “tar” becomes “rat”; or switching the sounds in words, such that “tar” becomes “bar”)
• Difficulty learning to decode (sound out) or encode (spell) words using the rules of phonics
• Difficulty developing fast and accurate oral reading
• Persistent slow silent reading
• Problems with reading comprehension despite generally good comprehension of spoken language
• Reading resistance, avoidance, or refusal
• Underperformance in school or inability to “show what they know”
• Consistently taking longer to complete work or tests than expected
• Greater difficulty keeping up or succeeding with work each year as the load and pace intensifies
If your child shows any of these signs, you should screen your child for dyslexia. We discuss some of the important characteristics of good dyslexia screeners in other blogs.
If you are looking for a dyslexia screener to discover your child’s risk for dyslexia, visit our website at www.neurolearning.com. There you can learn more about how our affordable, accessible, and accurate Dyslexia Screening Test App, and how it can help screen your child for dyslexia