The major risk factors that “can” indicate dyslexia

Discussions on dyslexia, Part 2

This post is by Dana Ross Stanke. She is a Reading Interventionist, who lives and teaches in Waco, Texas.

In my last blog, I talked about how dyslexia is defined, as well as risk factors to look for in the birth to pre-school years. In this blog I will discuss the risk factors to look for in the early schooling years (K-2) as well as some research based interventions that can be used with ALL students, but are especially important for those who struggle to learn to read and write.

Again, I am learning along with you. I am taking a course on causera.org entitled Supporting children with Difficulties in Reading and Writing by University of London, UCL Institute of Education & Dyslexia International. This is a free course, with the option of receiving credit for the course at a nominal fee.

Before listing the behaviors to look for in a school-aged child whom you see having difficulty learning to read and write, I want to reiterate from my first blog: As a classroom teacher or as a reading interventionist as I am, we cannot diagnose dyslexia. Only a diagnostician can do that. However, we can keep our eyes and ears tuned toward behaviors and risk factors that might indicate dyslexia or another language-based disorder, provide interventions that support the learning needs of these children, and take good observational notes to pass on to a diagnostician.

I am going to list risk factors that “can” indicate that a child is dyslexic or has another learning disorder. I warn you that ALL chlldren learning to read and write can manifest one or several of these factors. The key words for deciding if a child might be heading down the road of a learning disability are:

  1. COMBINATION—You will see a combination of these factors.
  2. FREQUENCY—You will see these factors often despite instructional support
  3. PERSISTENCY over time.

Now, here are the major Risk Factors that “can” indicate a child is dyslexic or has another learning disorder:

  • Auditory confusion of phonemes (A phoneme is the smallest unit of SOUND.)
  • Confusion of similar sounding phonemes
    • /b/, /d/, /p/.
  • Visual confusion of similarly shaped letters.
    • b – d, p-q, n-u, m-w, f-t
  • Inversion of letters and syllables
    • aminal for animal
    • emeny for enemy
  • Addition of letters, syllables, affixes
  • Omissions of elements of words
  • Substitution and guessing of words
  • Contraction or de-contraction of word boundaries when writing
    • remem ber
    • tothesea
  • Lose thread of meaning while reading.
  • Reread same line over again without noticing.
  • Miss words without noticing a break in meaning..
  • Read text written in past tense in present tense.
  • In writing, past and future tenses brought back to present tense.
  • Same word written two or three different ways in a single piece of writing
  • Ignoring punctuation when reading, producing a flat intonation.
  • In writing, forgetting capital letter at beginning of sentence and punctuation at end. (This is even difficult for adults with dyslexia.)
  • Writing slow and laborious. Often the first two or three sentences will be correct. But by the end of the text will be full of mistakes. The task becomes too overwhelming for a dyslexic.

In my next blog, I will write about informal assessments that a teacher can use in the early years to help determine that a child may have dyslexic tendencies, as well as research-based interventions that can support all children, but especially those who find reading and writing difficult.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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