Warning Signs

Reading disabilities - warning signsWho is at risk?

Preschool
Grades K-1
Grades 2-5
Middle School and beyond

Preschool

Speaking:

  • Late learning to talk or slow to learn new words
  • Trouble producing speech sounds (Is your child in speech?)
  • Mixing up sounds and syllables in long words
  • Mispronounced words; persistent baby talk
  • Difficulties with word retrieval
  • Pausing or hesitating often when speaking
  • Slow vocabulary growth, often unable to find the right word

Reading:

  • Avoids letters or confuses them
  • Cannot recall sounds of letters
  • Difficulty in learning (and remembering) names of letters, learning numbers, and the day of the week
  • Failure to know the letters in his/her own name
  • Unable to break words into separate speech sounds
  • Difficulties with rhyming words
  • Trouble learning common nursery rhymes such as “Jack and Jill” and “Humpty Dumpty”

School and Life:

  • Late establishing a dominant hand
  • Constant confusion of left versus right
  • Poor ability to follow directions or routines
  • Difficulty learning to tie shoes
  • A close relative with dyslexia
  • Trouble memorizing (For example: address, phone number, the alphabet, days of the week, or learning numbers)
  • Extremely restless and easily distracted
  • Trouble interacting with peers

Grades K-1

Speaking:

  • Late Learning to talk or slow to learn new words
  • Trouble producing speech sounds (Is your child in speech?)
  • Mixing up sounds and syllables in long words
  • Mispronounced words; persistent baby talk
  • Difficulties with word retrieval
  • Pausing or hesitating often when speaking
  • Slow vocabulary growth, often unable to find the right word
  • Low on phoneme awareness tests (taking apart speech sounds in words)

Reading

  • Trouble Learning phonics (sounds of letters)
  • Poor spelling
  • Cannot remember “sight” words (flashcard words)
  • Poor Handwriting
  • Failure to understand that words come apart; for example, that batboy can be pulled apart into bat and boy and later on, that the word bat can be broken down still further and sounded out as /b/ /a/ /t/.
  • Inability to learn to associate letters with sounds, such as being able to connect the letter b with the /b/ sound
  • Makes multiple reading and spelling errors including;
  • letter reversals (b/d)
  • inversions (m,w),
  • transpositions (felt/left)
  • substitutions (house/home)
  • Reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters; for example the word big is read as goat
  • The inability to read common one-syllable words or to sound out even the simplest of words, such as mat, cat, hop, nap
  • Complaints about how hard reading is, or running and hiding when it is time to read

School and Life:

  • Transposes number sequences confuses arithmetic signs (+, -,x, /. )
  • Late establishing a dominant hand
  • Constant confusion of left versus right
  • Poor ability to follow directions or routines
  • Difficulty learning to tie shoes
  • A close relative with dyslexia
  • Trouble memorizing (For example: address, phone number, the alphabet, days of the week, or learning numbers)
  • Extremely restless and easily distracted
  • Trouble interacting with peers
  • Indicators of Strengths:
  • Curiosity
  • A great imagination
  • The ability to figure things out
  • Eager to embrace new ideas
  • Getting the gist of things
  • A good understanding of new concepts
  • Surprising maturity
  • A Large vocabulary for the age group
  • Enjoyment of solving puzzles
  • Talent at building models
  • Excellent comprehension of stories read or told to him

Grades 2-5

Speaking:

  • Searches for specific word and ends up using vague language such as “stuff” “thingy” instead of the intended object
  • Pauses, hesitates, and/or uses lots of “umm’s” when speaking
  • Confuses words that sound alike, such as saying “tornado” for volcano, substituting “lotion” for ocean
  • Mispronunciation of long, unfamiliar words, or uncomplicated words
  • Common sayings come out slightly twisted
  • Seems to need extra time to respond to questions

Reading:

  • Very slow in acquiring reading skills
  • Letter & number reversals continue past the end of first grade
  • Reading is slow, choppy and awkward (sounds like reading a foreign language):
  • Guesses based on the shape or context
  • Skips or misreads prepositions (at, to, of)
  • Ignores suffixes
  • Trouble reading unfamiliar words, often making wild guesses because he cannot sound out
  • Doesn’t seem to have a strategy for reading new words
  • Avoids reading aloud Reading is tiring
  • Reading is tiring
  • Cannot recall sight words even after practice (they, were, does) or homonyms (their, they’re, there)
  • Poor spelling characterized by omitted speech sounds for letters, poor recall of even the commonest “little” words.
  • Weak reading comprehension when compared to listening comprehension
  • Poor handwriting or written expression
  • Avoidance of reading and writing

School and Life

  • Trouble with remembering dates, names, telephone numbers, random lists.
  • Slow recall of facts
  • Slow to learn new skills, relies heavily on memorization
  • Difficulty telling time with a clock with hands
  • Poor ability to follow directions or routines
  • Trouble with math
  • Memorizing multiplication tables
  • Memorizing a sequence of steps
  • Directionality
  • Impulsive, lack of planning
  • Unstable pencil grip
  • Poor coordination, unaware of physical surrounding, prone to accidents

Middle School and beyond

Speaking:

  • Searches for specific word and ends up using vague language such as “stuff” “thingy” instead of the intended object
  • Pauses, hesitates, and/or uses lots of “umm’s” when speaking
  • Confuses words that sound alike, such as saying “tornado” for volcano, substituting “lotion” for ocean
  • Mispronunciation of long, unfamiliar words, or uncomplicated words – get tongue tied
  • Common sayings come out slightly twisted
  • May have difficulty processing complex language or a series of instructions at speed
  • May have difficulties with oral or written expression or Verbal skills may be noticeably superior to written expression

Reading:

  • Usually reads below grade level and may have difficulty with comprehension compared to listening comprehension
  • May have poor grades in many classes
  • Slow to discern and learn prefixes, suffixes, root words and other reading strategies
  • May reverse letter sequences – “soiled” for “solid,” “left” for “felt”
  • May avoid reading aloud

School and Life:

  • Disproportionate poor performance on multiple choice tests
  • May spell the same word differently on the same page
  • Poor handwriting: pencil grip is awkward, fist-like or tight
  • Difficulty planning and writing essays
  • Seems to need extra time to respond to questions
  • May have slow or poor recall of facts
  • May have difficulty with planning, organizing, and managing time, materials and tasks
  • May have inadequate vocabulary & or store of knowledge
  • May have trouble with math, especially math fact speed, word problems, and solutions requiring several steps in sequence
  • Printed music may be difficult
  • May not be able to work fast enough to cope and he lacks effective strategies for studying
  • Has trouble with finishing tests on time—doesn’t finish or rushes and makes careless errors; final test grade does not reflect the person’s knowledge of the topic
  • Homework that never seems to end; parent recruited as reader
  • Requires a quiet environment to concentrate on reading
  • Relies on other sources of information that does not require reading
  • May become hostile or resistant to school
  • -complains of stomach aches or headaches
  • -may have nightmares about school
  • May be overwhelmed by multiple assignments
  • Extreme difficulty learning a foreign language
  • Messy handwriting
  • May have an extremely messy bedroom, backpack, desk
  • Low self-esteem that may not be immediately visible or manifest in defiance and defensiveness
  • Development of anxiety, especially in test-taking situations
  • History of problems in reading, spelling, foreign language learning in family members

Strengths:

  • Excellent thinking skills: conceptualization, reasoning, imagination, abstraction
  • Often good “people” skills
  • Often spatially talented
  • Could be a nontraditional, broad, global, thinker
  • Learning that is accomplished best through meaning rather than rote memorization.
  • Ability to get the “big picture”
  • A high level of understanding of what is read to him
  • The ability to read and to understand at a high level overlearned (that is, high practiced) words in a special area of interest; for example, if his hobby is race cars, he may be able to read auto mechanic magazines.
  • Improvement as an area of interest becomes more specialized and focused; he develops a miniature vocabulary that he can read.
  • May have a surprisingly sophisticated listening vocabulary
  • Excellence in areas not dependent on reading, such as math, computers, and arts,

Additional Resources: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/296/, http://www.readingrockets.org/helping/target/, http://dyslexia.yale.edu/when2act_preK.html