Detecting Dyslexia, p.2
Why Dyslexia Goes Undetected Knowing what recent studies have revealed, it seems odd that dyslexic children are still slipping through the cracks. One problem, experts insist, is that not enough attention is being paid to warning signs in the early grades.
"Across-the-board kindergarten screenings would lead to a greater degree of attention to children who are at risk," says G. Reid Lyon, Ph.D., chief of the child development and behavior branch of the NICHD. So far, 18 states require kindergarten screenings, but they vary widely in what they're looking for. "Many schools screen for whether kids can name colors or tie their shoes instead of looking for preliteracy skills, such as recognizing the sounds in words," says Susan Hall, a former board member of the International Dyslexia Association and author of Straight Talk About Reading, who became an advocate for kids with dyslexia when her son was diagnosed with it in 1995.
Then there are the children who get by when they're younger, so adults assume there's no problem. But there are critical points in elementary school when the curriculum shifts, and that's when a child with dyslexia may slip. "In first grade, kids receive formal reading instruction, and you may see a dyslexic child having difficulty sounding out words and relying more on guessing to get by," says Dr. Shaywitz. Still, teachers and parents are likely to think this is a temporary setback. By third and fourth grades, however, words are becoming harder to memorize, and kids are no longer learning to read; they're reading to learn. A dyslexic child who is not receiving scientifically proven reading instruction will slip even further.
Spotting Early Clues The goal is for educators to clue into key signs at earlier ages. But parents play an important role in making sure their kids get the help they need; in many cases, it's a parent, rather than the school, who identifies a problem.
By the time your child finishes preschool, ask yourself whether she is able to learn simple rhymes, has trouble recalling the right word to use in a sentence, mispronounces words (like busgetti for spaghetti), or has difficulty learning the names of the letters of the alphabet.
For children in kindergarten through fourth grade, common signs of dyslexia include being unable to associate letters with sounds, skipping over and confusing small words (like at, to, and in), mispronouncing long, unfamiliar words, and having a great fear of reading out loud. While these difficulties don't mean that your child definitely has dyslexia, experts suggest keeping a close watch and talking to your child's pediatrician and teacher.