It can be difficult to find out whether a young child shows signs of dyslexia.
One of the key signs is that other family members have been identified as dyslexic learners. Dyslexia tends to run in families. The chances of a young child being identified as a dyslexic are much greater today than they were in their parents' or grandparents' days when it was less well known.
However, early signs include difficulties with the sounds in language. Dyslexic children are often rather late to develop complex speech. They may muddle up sounds – like “par cark” or “aminals”. They are likely to have problems with rhymes. They may find it hard to repeat stories in the right sequence. They are likely to muddle everyday sequences such as days of the week or months of the year. They will probably find very hard to remember simple lists of instructions or procedures like tying laces or telling the time. The child may be “clumsy” and have issues with putting together sequences of actions such as kicking a ball.
Of course, all these signs may be just part of normal development. The thing to look for is that the difficulties remain while others in the same age group move on.
What can you do?
Make sure that the child’s hearing and vision are satisfactory. Make sure there are no medical reasons for any delay in learning.
The thing to do is work in a fun way to develop the child’s memory, phonic skills (sounds) and general approach to books and reading. Most children love to copy and this is an important way for them to learn and try out new skills. If they see mum, dad or their brothers and sisters looking at books, then they will want to do the same.
Playing memory games can be fun for children. Keep the games very easy at first – everyone needs to experience success. If their memory skills are a problem area, the child will soon being to think they are not very good and will not want to play again. Try playing picture lotto, or “My Grandmother’s Basket”. There are some good examples at www.learninggamesforkids.com Remember, young children learn best through play!
If you are very concerned about your young child (age 3+), the Code of Practice on Special Educational Needs says that you can ask for extra help through Early Years Action or Early Years Action Plus. In severe cases, a Statement of Special Educational Needs can be drawn up. Ask your local Parent Partnership Service through the Local Education Authority. Good advice can also be found at www.ace-ed.org.uk