If you don't see your questions listed below, feel free to contact us.
When should I have my child assessed for dyslexia?
To assess or not to assess, this is a question most of our clients must debate. The main reason for assessment is for confirmation. If you have completed a dyslexia checklist and many of the common characteristics are noticeably impacting your child, a diagnosis will help you confirm what is going on, and will help plan your next steps.
Families commonly need a diagnosis if they are planning to seek services or accommodations from the school. A good diagnostic report will be very helpful in making decisions regarding services for a student.
Finally, if your spouse, family or friends think you are crazy...it might be time for diagnosis. Typically, a mother's (or father's) instinct picks up on the presence of a language-based learning disability such as dyslexia long before grandparents, peers or educators will validate your concerns. Trust your gut; nobody knows your child like you do, and homework should never be a traumatic undertaking for a family.
Can my child be a good reader, but be dyslexic?
Yes. Having dyslexia does not mean a student cannot read. In fact, they may appear to be very good readers, and can be benchmarked as "at or above grade level". Many additional factors must be taken into account beyond how well a student appears to be reading.
My child has good grades / above average standardized test scores, can dyslexia still be causing problems?
There is a common misconception that people with dyslexia cannot read, or cannot be successful in school. The fact is that many dyslexic processors are very effective readers. Frequently, standard tests in the school systems will fail to root out underlying language (reading, writing, spelling) issues that are being cause by the language-based learning disability, such as dyslexia.
I thought dyslexia was just seeing or writing letters backward.
Letter reversals are a common characteristic of dyslexic processors, but that is a very small piece of the puzzle. Frequent reversals after grade 2 are often an indicator of a deeper language processing issue. Dyslexia is not tied to vision, so it is not a matter of seeing anything backwards, rather is it is a matter of processing language.
A color overlay seems to help my child read... does that mean it is or isn't dyslexia?
We frequently see students who have been given color overlays to "cure" dyslexia. The fact of the matter is that every person has preferences regarding reflectiveness of paper, and every person would have a preference to use or not use a color overlay when reading, just as they may not like to read text on certain colors of paper for some reason. If a student indicates that using a color overlay makes reading easier, then let them use it, but do not mistake this for remediation. No color overlay will help a student understand the phonemic structure of the English language. This is the same with fonts. If a font makes things easier to read...use it, but you need to work on the bigger problem, that is being able to read, no matter what font the language is presented in.
Is it too late to intervene?
It is never too late to intervene. The remediation program that is necessary for a kindergartner contains the same content that is necessary for a high school student, college student, or an adult. The pace and presentation are different, but the core information is still information that needs to be, and has never been, taught.
We were told our preschool/kindergarten/1st grader needs time to "bloom".
Children naturally "bloom" from birth to age 5. By the time a student is headed for kindergarten they should have a pretty good grip on the foundational skills of language - that is hearing and manipulating the sounds of language. If a child has been exposed to language, and by kindergarten still cannot recognize or manipulate phonemes at all then waiting for them to "bloom" is the worst thing you can do. It is better to teach them the skills they need early, before their peers surpass them by leaps and bounds.
What causes dyslexia?
Dyslexia is biological in origin. It is a brain-based difference, just as is being left or right handed. Neither is correct or incorrect, it is simply...different. Dyslexic processors do not process language the same way that a non-dyslexic processor will. Since non-dyslexic processors are the majority of the students in our school, we teach to the majority. This is a very unfortunate situation for those students that are in the minority and it can make school seem like an overwhelmingly impossible task.
Does dyslexia only effect reading and spelling?
No, the impact of dyslexia is not limited to reading and spelling. Dyslexia may also significantly impact writing, speaking, math, organizational and social skills. Often times the social emotional fallout from undiagnosed dyslexia becomes the overriding issue that must be dealt with.
What is the difference between dyslexia and auditory processing disorder?
This is a bit of sticky wicket. Auditory processing disorder is real, but needs to be assessed for by an audiologist. A student with an auditory processing disorder (APD) will struggle to hear things correctly. If a child is constantly misunderstanding the words you say to them, you may want to consider an APD assessment. Beware though, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a phonological awareness weakness, and APD. APD will cause many of the same difficulties in school that a phonological weakness will cause.
Can dyslexia be cured?
Can left-handedness be cured? Better yet SHOULD left-handedness be cured? Dyslexia is a part of who a person is. It is the way we think and process information, and it is wonderful. It is a horrible inconvenience in a classroom though. Just like a left-handed person can learn to shoot right handed layups, a dyslexic processor can learn to read and write in a classroom. They are still who they are, with some additional skills.
How do I tell dyslexia from ADHD?
Again - this one is tough! Even trained professionals may have a big job to sort through avoidance strategies that look like ADHD, to override that suspicion and then find dyslexia in the underlying weaknesses. There is a documented comorbidity between ADD/HD and dyslexia as well. As a general rule of thumb, if the ONLY time ADHD characteristics are surfacing is when there is academic work to be done, hold off on medication and dig a little deeper.
Are there different degrees of dyslexia?
Yes. Dyslexia occurs on a spectrum. There are no dyslexic processors that do things exactly alike, but there are many commonalities between all dyslexic processors. Dyslexia can be considered mild, moderate, severe or profound. Mild dyslexia most often goes undocumented and may be an adult who didn't like school at all, or relies on spellcheck to get anything accomplished on a computer. Profound dyslexia can look much like mild autism.
Can my school test for dyslexia?
There are many informal screens and assessments that a knowledgable educator may be able to do with a student to check into core language abilities and weaknesses. Diagnostic allowances vary greatly between states, and in the state of Iowa, no diagnostic assessments are performed by a school district. Standardized testing given on a state-wide level will rarely catch dyslexia.
Is it possible for a person with dyslexia to learn a foreign language?
Dyslexia is not an "English only" issue. A person who is dyslexic, will be dyslexic no matter what language they speak or learn. That being said, some languages will be easier than others for a dyslexic processor to learn, and some dyslexic processors may even find an affinity for spoken languages - though reading and writing may remain difficult in any language.