The most common learning disability affecting reading, spelling, and writing in children and adults is dyslexia. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that about 15% of the population has a language-based learning disability, dyslexia being the most prevalent. Boys and girls suffer equally.
Since dyslexia is deeply associated with language processing, some symptoms of the disability can be recognized in children who’ve not yet learned to read. Check out these 4 early warning signs in preschoolers.
Delayed Language Development
A lag in language development is a strong indicator of dyslexia or other disabilities. A child who doesn’t talk much, has a smaller vocabulary, and uses a simpler sentence structure than that of a large proportion of his peers may be at-risk.
Other common indicators include mispronouncing words by switching around letter sounds (“emeny” instead of “enemy”), and putting the wrong stress on words that are multi-syllabic.
As dyslexia is a disability in how the brain processes language, some children may have difficulty assigning names to objects. You may ask him to get a book and he brings you a block, or ask for a cap and he brings you a cup.
In a Montessori preschool, this difficulty can extend to assigning language to symbols. A child with dyslexia may have difficulties learning colors, letters, and numbers.
While many children find rhyming books a fast way to understand the differences and similarities between words like dog, bog, and log, children suffering from dyslexia can’t really process such patterns. Rhyming patterns simply don’t compute.
In higher grades, this particular trouble manifests in more classic dyslexic symptoms, such as difficulty in breaking down individual words into syllables and associated sounds. This is one reason why the process of learning how to read is so laborious for sufferers, without special help.
Because it takes longer to process language, many preschoolers with dyslexia exhibit difficulty in following directions, particularly multi-step directions. As a parent, you may find that your child will pick up either the first or the last thing you asked them to do, but have no memory of the multiple steps requested. In the classroom, the teacher may find that she has to repeat instructions multiple times before the child can grasp all that is required.
Early intervention can provide a world of help to allow children with dyslexia to keep pace with their peer group. If you’re unsure if your child has a disability, talk to his or her teacher and request an educational evaluation.