Dyslexia predisposition signs

Dyslexia predisposition signs can be noticed ever since the pre-school period in speech, motion, space orientation, attentiveness, perception or memory abilities. In some cases, several symptoms can be noticed, and in other, the number of symptoms is lower, but their severity is considerably higher.

There are various risk factors:

▪ other family members had issues with reading, writing correctly, mathematics or learning foreign languages;

▪ assumption of the existence of minor nervous system lesions, due to problems during pregnancy, premature birth, lesions occurred during birth, complications at birth (e.g. oxygen insufficiency), certain infancy lesions or illnesses accompanied by high fever;

▪ binding left-handed children to use their right hand.

The presence of some of the aforementioned symptoms does not necessarily mean that a child is dyslexic beyond doubt! These symptoms are clues signaling the existence of the dyslexia risk.

If the teacher or parent note the simultaneous presence of several dyslexia predisposition symptoms it is important to take the child to a speech therapist and subject him to a comprehensive investigation so as to set the diagnosis and the tailored development plan.

Symptoms indicating dyslexia predisposition during the pre-school period (5-6 years old):

Signs that can be noted in the child’s speech:

Started speaking later, compared to other children;

▪ The vocabulary and expression capacity developed too slowly;

▪ Finds it difficult to pronounce longer or unknown words.

▪ Pronunciation difficulties are hard to correct, although he/she regularly attends speech therapy sessions;

▪ Difficulty learning new words, names, expressions, and the newly learnt words are not integrated in the active vocabulary;

▪ Often confuses similar words;

▪ Has difficulties in expressing him-/herself, lacks the capacity to state the essential and is often unable to coherently speak on a certain topic;

▪ Has difficulties in finding his/her words, sometimes has difficulties in remembering even simple words, used on a daily basis;

▪ Speaks grammatically incorrect;

▪ Although the audiometric test result is negative, he/she repeatedly asks questions, as if he/she would not hear or understand what is being told;

▪ He/she cannot hear if a certain sound is or is not present in a word, has difficulties in separating a word into the component sounds, has trouble perceiving correctly the order of sounds within a word;

▪ Finds no pleasure in listening to stories, does not ask questions on the happenings in the story, can only narrate very little on the happenings in the story;

▪ Does not have a sense of rhythm.

Signs that can be noted in the child’s visual perception:▪ Difficulty noticing or recognizing familiar persons on the street, in crowds, a certain item within a crowd (e.g.: a toy on the toys’ shelf, a clothing item in the closet, etc.);

▪ Difficulty noticing the peculiarities of certain objects, in distinguishing a fragment in an image;

▪ Does not notice the difference between two objects (example: regularly puts on the shoes inversely), or images, confuses figures similar in shape in the working sheets;

▪ Is unable to build with cubes by given models;

▪ Is unable to copy figures, does not have a copying strategy.

Signs that can be noted at the level of the child’s motion:

▪ Started walking later, compared to other children, movements were unsure, uncoordinated for a long time;

▪ Did not slither, crawl or this period prior to walking was a very short one;

▪ Motion is uncertain, unbalanced. He/she is uncertain when walking in straight line, when overcoming or jumping over small obstacles. Easily stumbles, falls, knocks off or tips down objects. He/she is unable of more complex movements, has difficulties in putting on clothes or shoes on his/her own.. Is very slow in carrying out these activities;

▪ Is hyperactive. (Note: some of the children suffering from ADHD can also feature learning disorders);

▪ The sense of balance is poorly developed. He/she is uncertain, lacks courage on the slide and on the playground climber and consequently avoids them. Is unable to stand or jump on one foot. Is unable or has difficulties in acquiring cycling or scooting abilities, roller skating, swimming or skiing. He/she climbs up or down the stairs holding on to the handrail or always using the same leg;

▪ Hand motion is uncertain, poorly developed – he/she has difficulties in cutting, aligning, bending, working with plasticine, etc. Preset purpose movements are uncertain– e.g. wetting flowers. He/she is clumsy in using the knife and fork, the scissors, is unable or finds it difficult to button up his/her clothes or fasten laces. Holds the pencil incorrectly, with a tensioned hand. Does not like drawing, coloring or painting. When coloring or painting he/she often exceeds the page border or is unable to cover blank areas. He/she finds it difficult to use the brush, drawings are ugly, untidy;

▪ The quality of drawings is below the age level.

Signs that can be noted in the bodily structure and child’s space orientation:▪ Non-developed sidedness, it is not clear whether he/she is right- or left-handed;

▪ Many dyslexics are left-handed. Left-handedness in itself is not a sure sign of predisposition towards dyslexia. A more severe problem is cross sidedness, which means that the eye, ear, hand, foot on the same side of the body are not dominating. E.g. the following are dominant: right eye – left hand– right foot – left ear;

▪ Does not know the parts of the body, confuses them, lacks proper orientation on his/her own body;

▪ Is uncertain or gets lost even in familiar areas, e.g. on the kindergarten corridors. Forgets where he/she left his/her things, often loses personal items (e.g. toys, clothes);

▪ Confuses right and left, needs a long time to identify the left and right hand;

▪ Is unable to follow instructions concerning movements, even if such movements are exemplified. He/she cannot correctly perform the presented exercises during sports classes.

▪ Draws shapes, figures upside down.

Signs that can be noted in the child’s attentiveness:▪ Is not attentive, unable to focus over a long period of time, is easily distracted by outside noises, is usually able to focus on one thing for a few minutes only.

Signs that can be noted in the child’s memorization process:▪ Is unable to memorize poems, songs, easily forgets them. Is unable to memorize several instructions, dates, names, telephone numbers;

▪ Has difficulties in remembering the names of people and places and often confuses similar names. He/she had difficulties in remembering his/her kindergarten mates’ names;

▪ Is unable to render instructions including several items, cannot accurately perform the instruction;

▪ Has difficulties in learning new words, needs countless repetitions to remember foreign language words;

▪ Has poor results in memory games.

Signs that can be noted in the child’s writing process:

▪ Difficulties with perceiving associations, reproducing a series of movements, ordering;

▪ Difficulties in learning the week days, months, order of numbers;

▪ Difficulties in narrating, changes the order of happenings (e.g. the story starts with the middle and ends with the beginning);

▪ Is unable to follow several instructions received in sequence, becomes confused if he/she receives several instructions;

▪ Is unable to follow the rules of games, respect them, cannot foresee the following steps;

▪ Being unable to foresee the consequences of his/her behavior, actions – “something always happens to him/her”, hurts him-/herself, upsets his/her class-mates, etc.

Signs that can be noted in the child’s behavior:

Reduced performance as a consequence of these symptoms also have an impact on the behavior, one can often see integration or behavior disorders.

▪ Some children become irritable, quickly lose patience, others become introverted, shy, with low self-confidence;

▪ They have difficulties in adapting to the kindergarten rules and abiding by the rules. The governess often complains about their behavior;

▪ They avoid various games, activities in which they can fail due to the low capacities. Parents and governesses often fail to notice this phenomenon because the child will anyway play a different game;

▪ Does not actively and willingly participate in kindergarten activities, can only rarely be drawn to common activities and is hard to motivate;

▪ Often sits as if he/she wouldn’t understand what is happening around him/her, though he/she is actually intelligent;

▪ Is restless, superficial, only plays briefly with a certain toy. He/she starts many activities, but does not finish them, gets bored quickly, easily moves from one activity to another, is in permanent motion, unpredictable.

There are few children for whom there are no delays, minor or significant disorders, from the aforementioned symptoms categories. The existence of only some of the symptoms is not necessarily a sign of predisposition towards dyslexia, but the existence of several symptoms or the severity of some of them deserves special attention!