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Praise for our resource site!

Dyslexia identifiable in 3 to 4 year olds?
Are there any possible signs of dyslexia in children as young as three or four and how early can it be determined? I have a parent whose dyslexia was not noticed until high school and she is very worried about her young daughter. (Mel C, USA)
Reply: It’s extremely difficult to diagnose dyslexia before the age of 7. Also, you have to be careful that any anxiety about whether the child might be dyslexic or not isn’t picked up by the child. The best recommendation is to try to do all the right things for developing early literacy and numeracy – stories at bedtime, counting the forks and spoons, etc. – and be very supportive of all the school work once she starts. If she’s noticeably below the rest of her age-group at 7, then have an assessment. Remember that, whilst dyslexia is an inherited characteristic, there are huge numbers of dyslexic adults whose children have not inherited it in the least.

Reply: I’m also concerned about my 3 year old grand-daughter being dyslexic. She writes from right to left and draws her letters backwards. If she is dyslexic, I would like to give her the learning tools now so she can learn in our public school system when the time comes. I don’t want her to fall into the cracks that sometimes exists in public schools. Can we help now? Are there things we can do that will aid our children and their teachers later? (Mona S., Oklahoma)

Congratulations on your valuable new web-site. I had spent nearly an hour going through it last night before I realized what the time was! (Ken, Yorkshire, UK)

What a brilliant web-site for teachers – much overdue. (Lucy, Georgia, US)

More thoughts from parents…

Resource support
Is there something wrong with the system in my school district? I see children every day who are clearly dyslexic and yet they get no support from the school at all. If you see a bright kid in your class and they cannot write or spell, there must be something wrong. The resource specialist is part-time and only seems to be seeing about three or four children. I think you have to be in a wheelchair to get to see her! It just seems really unfair – and I’m the one who has to spend extra time each day helping these dyslexic kids complete their work. It makes me really angry. (JJ., Texas, USA)

I couldn’t agree more, JJ. I seem to spend my evenings making materials and equipment that the school should have purchased if they placed any real value on resource teaching. (Rod, Birmingham, UK)

Yes, there is something wrong with the school system. I used to work for Howard County Public Schools in Maryland. We – the teachers – were instructed to hide problems from parents. Teachers are in trouble if they cost the school system money. Seems like the school board prefers to fund promotions so people don’t have to work with kids anymore. (Kristine, Columbia, Maryland, USA)

There are limits to a school’s budget. (Hilary, Washington, USA)

Could someone tell me how you assess a child for dyslexia? Are there any simple criteria you can use as a rough guide, or do you really have to have a psychologist come in for each child? Our school district seems to short on funds – as usual – and we never seem to see a psychologist in the building. I work as a Resource Specialist, and I really feel I need more guidance on individual children’s particular difficulties. (Rosemary, Vancouver, Canada)

I’ve worked with dyslexic children for years now, and, whilst you obviously need a proper assessment for each child, I’m beginning to get a feel for the signs of dyslexia. They have a lot of confusions with left and right. If you say to them ‘Point to my left foot with your right hand’, they find it very hard. They also have great difficulty sequencing, for example saying the days of the week backwards or counting backwards. You also notice the joy in physical co-ordination – they love all kinds of outdoor games – basketball, softball, football, and so on. There don’t seem to be one set of criteria that all dyslexic children fit, however, and you have to be careful. But these seem to be fairly common. (Kathleen, Yorkshire, England)

I’m disgusted at my school’s attitude to dyslexic students. They refuse to say that any student is dyslexic – in case it should cost them any extra money – and one parent told me that the psychologist went to sleep during a conference about her son last year. (Disappointed, USA)

I’m really sorry to hear that ‘Disappointed’ is having such a hard time. I hope that you’ve got some support outside of your school. I work as a Resource Specialist, and our psychologist is really excellent. He always includes my opinions in any assessments, and says that a child is dyslexic – or has a specific learning difficulty – if he thinks it. He makes a point of coming to see me after each conference, and I really feel I can always ask for advice. He’s a real gem! (Flora, Minnesota, USA)

Group size
How many pupils do other people take in their resource group? I have over six in most of my groups now and I find it impossible to give individual attention. I just don’t feel that the children are benefiting from the attention I give them because so many of them need one-to-one help. (Ken, Texas, USA)

I couldn’t agree more, Ken. I think two or three is quite enough if you want to see any improvement. (John Gardner, South-West Australia)

Maybe I’m lucky, but I only ever take one child at a time. Our school is fee-paying, so I guess that makes the difference. (Mary, Bristol. UK)

I don’t think group size matters so much as the method you use. Unless you teach the dyslexic children phonemic awareness in a multi-sensory way you’re banging your head against the wall! (LL., Maryland, USA)

Resource support
How many pupils do other people take in their resource group? I have over six in most of my groups now and I find it impossible to give individual attention. I just don’t feel that the children are benefiting from the attention I give them because so many of them need one-to-one help. (Ken, Texas, USA)

Parental Concerns

Music and dyslexia
I am a guitar teacher. I have a dyslexic student who has been studying the piano for 10 years. She has perfect pitch and has never had a problem reading music. However, she seems to have an unusually hard time picking out shapes and patterns on the fret board of the guitar. I’m not sure if this is because she is used to the piano, which is arranged in an entirely linear fashion (the guitar is not traditionally taught this way), or if her dyslexia is causing the problem. Any answers/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. (M.B., USA)

I am a flute and dyslexia teacher. We have so many problems here in Austria with schools. I think we are living in the STONE AGE. I would like to know more about music playing and dyslexia. Can anyone help? I’m looking for e-mail support. (A.D., Austria – [email protected])

Distinguishing left from right on the piano
I teach children music and have a child who has great difficulty in distinguishing Right from Left, and also confuses finger numbers 2 and 4. I draw a picture of the hand he is supposed to use in each section and circle the correct finger, but this does not seem to help much. Once he has done the song correctly enough times, he is fine – I guess that is the sense of touch helping him out?
I found your information very useful, and would love to hear from any other teachers of music (in particular piano) that have helped their students with dyslexia read music. I guess the best way for a child with these factors is to concentrate on learning through touch, sound, sight and give lots of encouragement. (Kaja, USA)

Provide study guides?
I am the parent of a 13-year old dyslexic 7th grader. He attends a private Catholic school which has little resources for the LD child. The school does provide a resource teacher, but she only spend limited time with my son. My question is, what do you recommend I ask of his other teachers in order to help him through the year? It seems like they are put out if something extra is required of them. I do not want to infringe on their time but I feel they should be willing to provide additional help to anyone who should ask. I would like his teachers to provide me with answered study guides prior to his tests, as well as advance notices of test. I see no reason why I should have to spend hours filling out the guides. My husband and I already spend 1-4 hours nightly studying with our son (as you can see we are very dedicated to helping our son deal with dyslexia and school). This amount of study time only adds to the family stress level. I’m looking for ways to reduce the stress and to make the most of our study time. As teachers, can you suggest ways that teachers have helped families deal with simplifying the study hours? We currently use books on tape so that he can listen to his textbooks. In the past I re-read all of his textbooks to him after he read them first. This provided me with the answers to the study guides but now I’m not reading the text.
Also, what can I ask of teachers who do not provide study guides. I feel we need to know the specifics of the test material so as not to be focusing on material that is not necessary.
Now that my son is in Junior High I know the classes will become more difficult – some to the extent that my husband and I need refresher courses. Thank you for any advice you can provide. (US)

My son gave a talk to the class
I’ve only just discovered this site. My 9-yr old dyslexic son had to give a talk to the class. He chose to talk about dyslexia and started: “What do Walt Disney, Richard Branson and me have in common? – No we’re not all millionaires . . . yet, but we do all have dyslexia. And so it went on. The teacher was so impressed! And with his peers my son was the hero for many weeks. (Proud mom, UK)