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Your Healthy Family: What are the early signs of dyslexia in young children?

Posted at 12:46 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-27 10:02:16-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Today, January 23rd, is National Reading Day. It’s a day meant to encourage younger readers, pre-K through 3rd grade to love reading.

It’s also a great time to talk about dyslexia, a common learning disability often misunderstood and can be a huge obstacle for kids learning to read.

It's estimated that about 1 in 10 Americans have dyslexia.

Kim FitzPatrick is a Certified Academic Language Therapist, with Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs. Kim says dyslexia is often thought of as someone seeing words or letters backwards or out of order.

Kim explains that dyslexia has nothing to do with someone’s eyes. “It's neurological in origin and is characterized by poor spelling, and poor decoding. The deficits are rooted in the phonological processing of our language and there are secondary characteristics that are impacted like comprehension and vocabulary.”

Kim says signs of dyslexia in young children can be seen before preschool age. “Parents could be seeing things like, being slow to speak, or not hearing rhymes - they don't really understand or get the rhyme. They may have trouble learning their letter names and letter sounds and remembering sequences like the alphabet.”

For some children, signs of dyslexia may not be noticeable until they are a little further along in school says Kim. “Older children, kindergarten to 2nd grade may have a hard time with spelling. Their handwriting may be poor, and as they get into older grades they really avoid reading and feel a lot of pressure, especially if they have to read out loud so they'll do a lot of avoiding. They can begin to fall farther and farther behind in school, homework may take forever, and timed tests are really difficult for them.”

In our next story, Kim will talk about how to spot dyslexia in older kids and teens who's symptoms may be more subtle and what to do if you believe your child has dyslexia.