If you're a parent of a kindergartener or first-grader, you might have noticed some backward or transposed letters as your child learns to read and write. Some of this is normal, but how would you know if your child had dyslexia?
Susan Schapiro, an educational consultant with offices in Towson and Bel Air who has studied identification and treatment of dyslexia for years, says that if you're worried, you should pay attention to the following signs. It's not unusual for a child to exhibit one or two of these signs, but three or more - especially if there is a family history of dyslexia - warrant follow-up with a professional:
* Delayed speech
* Mixing up sounds in multisyllabic words ("aminal" for animal, "bisghetti" for spaghetti)
* Difficulty learning the alphabet
* Difficulty learning the names and/or sounds of letters
* Reversing letters, such as a d for b
* Difficulty learning to read
* Reversing words, such as tip for pit
* Inserting or leaving out letters, such as could for cold
* Reading a word on one page, but failing to recognize it on another
* Slow, labored, inaccurate oral reading
* Misreading or omitting common short words
* Becoming very tired after reading for only a short time
* Poor reading comprehension unless read to
* Misreading function words such as to, the, are, of
* Difficulty with spelling. The child may be able to memorize words on a spelling test, but cannot spell the same words the next day.
Schapiro cautions that you shouldn't wait too long to seek help if your child is struggling to read on grade level. "Research shows that the longer a child struggles with reading, the harder it will be for that child to catch up," she says. Resources can be found on her Web site: getsettoread.com.