The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity
When to Act

dyslexic child photo

Childhood is a time for learning.  Gradually and sequentially, from the time they are toddlers through their first year of formal education, children are busily acquiring the raw materials for becoming a reader: knowledge of the alphabet, recognition of individual letters, and the ability to associate sounds with letters.  Failure or delay in acquiring these skills is an early clue to a potential reading problem.

The five-year-old who can’t quite learn his letters becomes the six-year-old who can’t match sounds to letters and the fourteen-year-old who reads excruciatingly slowly. A child who delays breaking the phonetic code will miss much of the reading practice that is essential to building fluency and vocabulary; as a consequence, he will fall further and further behind in acquiring comprehension skills and knowledge of the world around him. 

Of course, no one wants to be an “alarmist” and put her child through an evaluation for trivial or transient bumps along the road to reading. If your preschool child struggles with language, particularly with rhymes and pronouncing words, and especially if there is a family history of reading problems, you should not keep your worries to yourself.  You need to seek help. 

If we elect not to evaluate a child and that child later proves to have dyslexia, we cannot give those lost years back to him.  The human brain is resilient, but there is no question that early intervention and treatment bring about more positive change at a faster pace than an intervention provided to an older child. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the quicker your child can get help, and the more likely you are to prevent secondary blows to her self-esteem.

Luckily, parents can play an active role in the early identification of a reading problem.  All that is required is an observant parent who knows what she is looking for and who is willing to spend time with her child listening to him speak and read. Kindergarten is in many ways a watershed in identifying children who are vulnerable to dyslexia.  For the first time a child is in a public environment where he is exposed to a formal curriculum geared to teaching those skills necessary for reading, and there are expectations and guidelines for what must be learned. 

Even acknowledging that children come from different backgrounds and that children may intrinsically differ in their pace of learning, the clues listed on the earlier flash presentation are such important signals that reading is not progressing that they should not be ignored. The cost to your child and to you is too great. I have yet to meet a family that feels they acted too soon.

Source: Overcoming Dyslexia