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Your Healthy Family: Signs of dyslexia in older kids, and what to do when you notice them at any age

Posted at 10:04 AM, Jan 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-24 12:04:33-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — In this Your Healthy Family we're following up on our last story about the signs of dyslexia in young children.

But what should you do if you don't spot those warning signs until your kids are in middle or high school?

Kim FitzPatrick, a Certified Academic Language Therapist, with Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs says, “The good thing is, it's never too late. It will just take a little longer to remediate but it's never too late. If [your children] have gotten to middle school and things just haven't seemed right it might be worth getting an evaluation.”

The warning signs to look for in older kids are a reluctance to read out loud, poor handwriting, taking longer than normal to complete homework and difficulty with timed tests.

Kim says, “I hear all the time from parents, ‘We knew something wasn't quite right.’ They just didn't know what to call it or what to do about it. If you think something's not right - don't wait. Early intervention is the key to the most successful treatment. Parents should trust their gut especially if there's any kind of family history of learning difficulties.”

Another closely related learning dis-order to be on the lookout for in children with dyslexia are attention deficit disorders. Kim explains, “Dyslexia and ADD, or ADHD are separate conditions, but there is a lot of overlap. About 30% of kids with dyslexia also have ADHD that is characterized more by inattentiveness, hyperactivity or impulsivity and that makes learning even that much harder.”

Kim says something parents can do right now to manage these issues is to start reading to your children as soon as you welcome them into the world. “From the very beginning just talking to them conversationally, about everything. Reading when they are new babies and even when you're changing their diaper playing little silly word games with them so they're exposed to what our language sounds like.”

By talking and reading to your children from the very beginning of their life, parents will be better equipped to realize when something might not be going right.

Kim says, “You are going to see signs earlier and the earlier you can intervene. Dyslexic kids typically have a stronger listening comprehension so they're able to understand and take in much more than they're able to read for themselves. We want to look at that in two different ways. We want to keep that going because that helps their vocabulary and their background knowledge and that builds comprehension. Even though their decoding ability might be at a much different level so we want to work with them in both areas.”

So what should you do if you think your child is struggling with dyslexia? Kim says your pediatrician is the best place to start. “That would be a great place to start, the pediatrician can get a referral for an evaluation so we can better understand how [kids] learn and what they need to help them.”