Watch for the early signs of dyslexia

There are a number of telling symptoms to indicate your child may have a learning disability, and early detection can make a world of difference, writes Karen van Doorn. 

As a mom, I wished I had known the early signs of dyslexia.

I wish I knew that there were signs that I could have picked up on way before my daughter even learned to read. It would have saved our whole family a lot of tears and hours of homework struggles, and my little girl would not have felt “un-smart.”

If only I had picked up on these early signs, if I was aware they were signs, it could have helped our family.

At a very young age, my daughter loved books but disliked letters, even when we tried to slide in a game of “I spy a letter” during story time. She refused to wear shirts with words on them but pictures were fine.

She had a difficult time learning to speak, repeating words. We thought: “she will talk when she is ready.” She had a difficult time with the concept of “rhyming” (cat, mat, rat); she did not like to repeat or learn nursery rhymes.

Learning the alphabet was so arduous. She avoided naming letters or matching the sounds to the letters.

My daughter had low self-confidence, poor self-esteem; she would not try new things and often said “I can’t.” She had a hard time making friends and an even harder time keeping them.

She had a difficult time organizing not only her toys and personal things; she had a difficult time organizing her thoughts. She would bounce from one thought to another without a seeming connection between them.

During a dinner conversation, she would bring up something we had spoken about earlier. We had all moved on to new topics, but she had not caught up yet. She would get very frustrated; she had such a short temper.

She had a very difficult time, after much repetition naming letters, matching the sounds to the letters (mmmm for m). We thought the school would teach her; they will have the tricks to get her to do it.

Sight words were next to impossible to learn, as well as printed words. Ultimately, for her to learn to read at the average expected age was not happening.

I often thought: “Oh, she will get it,” “It’s just a rough patch,” and “If we practise harder it will eventually happen.” The truth is, the more we practised and she “failed,” the more devastating it was to her self-confidence. Spelling tests were dreaded! Why could she not learn those words?

If you observe one or more of these signs or symptoms, do not jump to any conclusions but be aware; talk to the educators and professionals in your child’s life and seek help.

I truly believe the more you educate parents and educators about early detection, the sooner we can intercede and the better off the child (and family) will be.

Karen van Doorn was in the education field for 26 years and has her own intervention clinic to help those with learning difficulties. She is  certified as a Tomatis Practitioner, Cellfield Reading Intervention Provider, an Interactive Metronome Provider and is certified to practice DIR/Floortime.