How Soon Can Dyslexia be Identified

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    Scientific research has shown that the risk factors for dyslexia can be identified in children from the age of 5, and by 7 it is usually clear which children will need extra help with reading and spelling skills.

    It is not difficult to list the advantages of early identification of the risk factors for reading and spelling difficulties. For example children identified early:
    • will have far less educational ground to make up than those identified later in their schooling. 
    • will be less likely to suffer the negative behavioural consequences of untreated persistent reading problems.
    What are some of the signs to look out for in my young child?

    Children at risk for dyslexia often:
    • Find learning the sounds and the names of the letters of the alphabet difficult. They may also find it hard to learn the names of some objects or people.
    • Have difficulties with sound processing skills (often referred to as phonological awareness skills). They may find it hard to split the words they hear into syllables or beats. They may not be able to hear that some words rhyme, and may find it hard to make up strings of rhyming words. Some children will come to understand rhyme, but struggle with the smaller units of sound in words, for example struggle to understand that ‘dog’ is made up of 3 sounds (d) (o) (g). 
    • Have a family history of specific learning difficulties with reading, writing or speech and language, such as dyslexia.
    • May be slow at learning to speak, find learning and remembering new words difficult or find it hard to say longer words.
    What support can I get?

    If you are concerned about your child’s reading and spelling, you may be interested in Dyslexia Action’s practical literacy courses for parents, or their Early Literacy Skills ‘screenings’ which can be very helpful in identifying strengths and weaknesses, and pick up on ‘risk factors’ for dyslexia. This information can be very helpful to your child’s teachers who can adapt the way they teach and suggest activities that can build on strengths and help overcome weaknesses. This could be a good idea if there is a family history of dyslexia or concerns about progress. From the age of 6 to 7, a full assessment for dyslexia can usually be made.

    Dyslexia Action offers a ‘Key Stage 1’ screening service; and their specialist teachers can also deliver tuition to children aged 4 and above, as well as liaise with schools to support intervention at school.

    What can parents do to help?

    Dyslexia Action has a number of resources for parents including hints and tips about how to support early reading skills and an online shop that provides many practical ideas about word games and language activities that you can play with your child.

    Remember that reading builds on language skills, so listening to stories, talking about stories and words, playing word games and many other activities can help build a firmer foundation for reading and very often can fill some of the ‘gaps’ that go along with dyslexia.

    If your child has special educational needs, you may find our guidance on SEN reforms helpful. It provides some useful information about the changes taking place in Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) provision in England, from September 2014.

    You may also find support networks beneficial. Parent Champions is a website developed by The Dyslexia-SpLD Trust which supports parents and carers of children with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties.

    If you would like any more information or advice, please contact your nearest Dyslexia Action Learning Centre who can offer support and advice, click here to find your local Centre.

    Dyslexia Action is a national charity with over 40 years’ experience in providing services and support to children, young people and adults with literacy and numeracy difficulties, dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties. We provide assessments and tuition through our national Learning Centres and in schools across the country, alongside supporting teachers and educators through the provision of teaching resources and training. We also undertake research and campaigning to improve the lives of those affected by dyslexia.

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