If You’ve Seen One Dyslexic, You’ve Seen One Dyslexic

Peggy Hendrix
Peggy Hendrix, Director of Admissions

“I’m sure my other children aren’t dyslexic.  None of them have the same symptoms my dyslexic child had.”

The problem with this statement is that it is unlikely to be true.  Dyslexia is a neurobiological condition, and is highly hereditary. Research has shown that there is familial clustering with dyslexia.  Children with a dyslexic parent have a 40-60% chance of being dyslexic. This risk is increased when there are other dyslexics in the family.  In fact, according to the Journal of Medical Genetics, there is an estimated 3-10 fold increase in the relative risk for a sibling.

So, long story short, if you or one of your children is dyslexic, it is highly likely that at least one of your other children is as well.  But it can be confusing to figure this out . . . no two dyslexics are exactly alike.  Most have difficulty spelling, but not all.  Most have trouble decoding, but not all. Some have an attention deficit disorder, some have receptive or expressive language disorders, some have difficulty with math, some have poor fine or gross motor issues, while others are star athletes with perfect handwriting.

So how do you determine whether you have other dyslexic children in your home?  If any of your other children present with red flags for dyslexia, it is important to have them tested.  Examples of red flags for preschool children include an inability to produce rhymes, divide words into syllables, discriminate between rhyming words, delete root/syllables/phonemes (for example, “Say ‘cowboy.’  Now say it again but don’t say ‘boy'”). Children at age six should be able to write words, write sentences, blend sounds together, decode nonsense words, segment words into syllables, and identify letters and their sounds.  Children in grades second through fifth should be able to spell fairly well, have good handwriting, enjoy reading, recall sight words quickly without much repetition, comprehend reading material on or above grade level, and read accurately.

Remembering that early intervention is best, observe your other children.  Watch for these signs and talk with your child's teachers to see if they have noted that he or she struggles with any of these reading skills. Early intervention is best, so don’t delay. As you can see, signs of dyslexia occur in very young children. The longer a child goes undiagnosed and unremediated, the weaker his or her self esteem becomes.  Children do not grow out of dyslexia, and they are very rarely only “late bloomers.” Have your child tested and give them the remediation they need in order to become successful learners.

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