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too early for dyslexia assessment? WWYD?

(38 Posts)
becstarsky Thu 18-Aug-11 09:53:45

My DS is about to go into yr 1, aged 5. He's really struggling with reading - tears when we do his school reading, lots of 'I hate it, I hate it, I'll never be able to do it, I'm stupid' - and he isn't normally like that at all, he's a happy little chap usually. Also other kids pick on him - I was with him at school gates when a little girl just walked straight up and hit him and when the Mum said 'Say sorry', the girl said 'But he's so stupid, he can't write, his handwriting is just like this [mimes scruffy handwriting]' I asked DS 'Have other kids said that to you before?' and he said 'I don't care, I only want to talk about Beyblades and football, I don't care about writing anyway.' in a typical 'boy with a brave face on' kind of way. There were other instances of kids hurting him or calling him names which teachers dealt with. He does have friends and makes friends easily, but even they make comments to him - just innocently as kids do - about how he can't read as well as them.

Teachers (all supply teachers, he didn't have a regular form teacher for most of last year, so they didn't really know him well) comment that his handwriting needs a lot of work but that they're 'not worried about him' but I've seen some of the work of other kids in his form and DS is just not even at the races. This is a London state primary, where he is the only child who speaks English as a first language in his class, and a few of the kids there don't have anyone who speaks English at home apart from siblings, over 50% of kids are free school meals - I'm not comparing him against private school tutored kids in the home counties.

He's summer born so young for his year, and he's a boy and people keep telling me that boys read later, and I'm probably being a fussy middle-class mother of an only child... because, well, that's what I am. But he seems to learn everything else so quickly and easily, and whenever people talk to him they comment that he is very bright, and say that he must be top in his class. I just smile and say that they don't do 'top of the class' any more. But tbh, if they did, DS would be around bottom. WWYD?

Cappster Thu 18-Aug-11 09:56:49

My dd2 couldn't read at all really at the beginning of Yr1

when she did free writing it was just MMMMMMMMM for like a page

when she did write letters she got them all backwards

I went to the teacher and blithered about dyslexia and she ignored me, thankfully

she's fine now, suddenly 'got it' towards the end of Year 1, jumped two reading levels in a month or two. She's not where some of her peers are but she's getting there

my advice would be to chill the fuck out grin in the nicest possible way

becstarsky Thu 18-Aug-11 10:00:27

grin chilling out not my strongest skill! If it wasn't for the name-calling from other kids, and him crying when he tries to read I wouldn't be stressed - was your DD like that too? Cos if she was, and then she was fine, I would chill more easily!

Cappster Thu 18-Aug-11 10:00:33

oh, and the 'stupid' thing?

Apparently lots of kids do that. Who knew? It's very alarming. But normal, apparently. So there you go.

Cappster Thu 18-Aug-11 10:03:12

We realised after a while that dd2 thought that other children could just read without learning. We dragged out some Yr1 books of her older sister's and showed her that dd1 had had to learn to read and write too.

I think children are aware that it's important, and that we think it's important, and that's why they get upset. The chilling out could help him, too grin

becstarsky Thu 18-Aug-11 10:04:59

Thanks Cappster, appreciate the reply and insight!

IndigoBell Thu 18-Aug-11 10:31:21

OP - Your child may or may not have dyslexia. It's not too early to test for it or diagnose it - however a diagnosis won't help him learn to read and write sad

What you really need to concentrate on are the things that will actually help him.

Is his writing so bad due to problems with his fine motor skills? Gross motor skills? Ie is it actually the forming of the letters he finds difficult? There is loads you and school can do to help this. You need to practice fine and gross motor skills every day (if they are his problem) - but you don't need to practice writing until his motor skills are improved.

Reading. Is his memory fine? Is he being taught well? What reading books has he had home? Does he know the sounds for all the letters in the alphabet?

becstarsky Thu 18-Aug-11 16:48:49

Thanks IndigoBell, those are really helpful thoughts. And your point about a diagnosis not actually helping him is sad but also empowering in that in that case I don't need to think about that again, I just need to get on with helping him. Really helpful, thank you.

I think fine motor skills are def. an issue and regular practice is a good idea, I'll get that going. His memory is very good. He started learning the letters in the alphabet at nursery - he learned about half of them, muddling up certain ones like 'b' and 'd' and 'p' and 'q'. He seemed to be on the cusp of reading then - about a year ago. Since then he doesn't seem to have made progress - he still muddles up the same letters, he still struggles to 'blend'. I'd say that the main difference is that at nursery he liked 'phonics' and loved stories, and now he dreads it. I guess because he'd been hacking away at it without much reward all year, poor love.

mrz Thu 18-Aug-11 17:40:20

bdp confusion ideas (it says dyslexia but ignore that)

becstarsky Thu 18-Aug-11 18:15:25

mrz - wow! Those are fantastic, thank you! I think the 'bed' image will really help him, and we'll go through those sheets together over the next few weeks/months - if he just nails 'b' and 'd' it would help his confidence and give him a sense that he's getting somewhere with it. He tries so very hard.

mrz Thu 18-Aug-11 18:34:05

try getting him to make fists with his thumbs pointing up palm toward him the left hand is b the right hand is d

becstarsky Thu 18-Aug-11 18:35:30

That is such a great trick! Thank you, really very kind of you.

mrz Thu 18-Aug-11 18:45:20

Fine Motor Skills
Things to remember:

Upright working surfaces promote fine motor skills. Examples of these are: vertical chalkboards; easels for painting; flannel boards; lite bright; magnet boards (or fridge); windows and mirrors; white boards, etc. Children can also make sticker pictures; do rubber ink-stamping; use reuseable stickers to make pictures; complete puzzles with thick knobs; use magna-doodle and etch-a-sketch as well. The benefits for these include: having the child's wrist positioned to develop good thumb movements; they help develop good fine motor muscles; the child is using the arm and shoulder muscles.
Fine Motor Activities
Moulding and rolling play dough into balls - using the palms of the hands facing each other and with fingers curled slightly towards the palm.
Rolling play dough into tiny balls (peas) using only the finger tips.
Using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play dough.
Cutting play dough with a plastic knife or with a pizza wheel by holding the implement in a diagonal volar grasp.
Tearing newspaper into strips and then crumpling them into balls. Use to stuff scarecrow or other art creation.
Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super strength builder.
Using a plant sprayer to spray plants, (indoors, outdoors) to spray snow (mix food colouring with water so that the snow can be painted), or melt "monsters". (Draw monster pictures with markers and the colours will run when sprayed.)
Picking up objects using large tweezers such as those found in the "Bedbugs" game. This can be adapted by picking up Cheerios, small cubes, small marshmallows, pennies, etc., in counting games.
Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space between the palms.
Using small-sized screwdrivers like those found in an erector set.
Lacing and sewing activities such as stringing beads, Cheerios, macaroni, etc.
Using eye droppers to "pick up" coloured water for colour mixing or to make artistic designs on paper.
Rolling small balls out of tissue paper, then gluing the balls onto construction paper to form pictures or designs.
Turning over cards, coins, checkers, or buttons, without bringing them to the edge of the table.
Making pictures using stickers or self-sticking paper reinforcements.
Playing games with the "puppet fingers" -the thumb, index, and middle fingers. At circle time have each child's puppet fingers tell about what happened over the weekend, or use them in songs and finger plays.

Place a variety of forms (eg. blocks, felt, paper, string, yarn, cereal, cotton) on outlines
Match shapes, colour, or pictures to a page and paste them within the outlines

Self-Care Skills
Fastening Snaps
Using a screwdriver
Locking and unlocking a door
Winding a clock
Opening and closing jars
Rolling out dough or other simple cooking activities
Washing plastic dishes
Sweeping the floor
Scissor Activities
When scissors are held correctly, and when they fit a child's hand well, cutting activities will exercise the very same muscles which are needed to manipulate a pencil in a mature tripod grasp. The correct scissor position is with the thumb and middle finger in the handles of the scissors, the index finger on the outside of the handle to stabilize, with fingers four and five curled into the palm.
Cutting junk mail, particularly the kind of paper used in magazine subscription cards.
Making fringe on the edge of a piece of construction paper.
Cutting play dough or clay with scissors.
Cutting straws or shredded paper.
Use a thick black line to guide cutting the following:
A fringe from a piece of paper
Cut off corners of a piece of paper
Cut along curved lines
Cut lines with a variety of angles
Cut figures with curves and angles

Sensory Activities
The following activities ought to be done frequently to increase postural muscle strength and endurance. These activities also strengthen the child's awareness of his/her hands.
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking
Clapping games (loud/quiet, on knees together, etc.)
Catching (clapping) bubbles between hands
Pulling off pieces of thera-putty with individual fingers and thumb
Drawing in a tactile medium such as wet sand, salt, rice, or "goop". Make "goop" by adding water to cornstarch until you have a mixture similar in consistency to toothpaste. The "drag" of this mixture provides feedback to the muscle and joint receptors, thus facilitating visual motor control.
Picking out small objects like pegs, beads, coins, etc., from a tray of salt, sand, rice, or putty. Try it with eyes closed too. This helps develop sensory awareness in the hands.

Midline Crossing
Establishment of hand dominance is still developing at this point. The following activities will facilitate midline crossing:
Encourage reaching across the body for materials with each hand. It may be necessary to engage the other hand in an activity to prevent switching hands at midline.
Refrain specifically from discouraging a child from using the left hand for any activity. Allow for the natural development of hand dominance by presenting activities at midline, and allowing the child to choose freely.
Start making the child aware of the left and right sides of his body through spontaneous comments like, "kick the ball with your right leg." Play imitation posture games like "Simon Says" with across the body movements.
When painting at easel, encourage the child to paint a continuous line across the entire paper- also from diagonal to diagonal.

Activities To Develop Handwriting Skills
There are significant prerequisites for printing skills that begin in infancy and continue to emerge through the preschool years. The following activities support and promote fine motor and visual motor development:
Body Stability
The joints of the body need to be stable before the hands can be free to focus on specific skilled fine motor tasks.
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking, and wall push-ups.
Toys: Orbiter, silly putty, and monkey bars on the playground.

Fine Motor Skills
When a certain amount of body stability has developed, the hands and fingers begin to work on movements of dexterity and isolation as well as different kinds of grasps. Children will develop fine motor skills best when they work on a VERTICAL or near vertical surface as much as possible. In particular, the wrist must be in extension. (Bent back in the direction of the hand)
Attach a large piece of drawing paper to the wall. Have the child use a large marker and try the following exercises to develop visual motor skills:Make an outline of a one at a time. Have the child trace over your line from left to right, or from top to bottom. Trace each figure at least 10 times . Then have the child draw the figure next to your model several times.
Play connect the dots. Again make sure the child's strokes connect dots fromleft to right, and from top to bottom.
Trace around stencils - the non-dominant hand should hold the stencil flat and stable against the paper, while the dominant hand pushes the pencil firmly against the edge of the stencil. The stencil must be held firmly.
Attach a large piece of felt to the wall, or use a felt board. The child can use felt shapes to make pictures. Magnetic boards can be used the same way.
Have the child work on a chalkboard, using chalk instead of a marker. Do the same kinds of tracing and modeling activities as suggested above.
Paint at an easel. Some of the modeling activities as suggested above can be done at the easel.
Magna Doodle- turn it upside down so that the erasing lever is on the . Experiment making vertical, horizontal, and parallel lines.

Ocular Motor Control
This refers to the ability of the eyes to work together to follow and hold an object in the line of vision as needed.
Use a flashlight against the ceiling. Have the child lie on his/her back or tummy and visually follow the moving light from left to right, to bottom, and diagonally.
Find hidden pictures in books. (There are special books for this.)
Maze activities.

Eye-hand Coordination
This involves accuracy in placement, direction, and spatial awareness.
Throw bean bags/kooshi balls into a hula hoop placed flat on the floor. Gradually increase the distance.
Play throw and catch with a ball . Start with a large ball and work toward a smaller ball. (Kooshi balls are easier to catch than a tennis ball.)
Practice hitting bowling pins with a ball. (You can purchase these games or make your own with pop bottles and a small ball.)
Play "Hit the Balloon" with a medium-sized balloon.

mrz Thu 18-Aug-11 18:45:39

I also teach my children letter formation jingles which they recite to ensure they form letters correctly in a smooth single motion

Curly caterpillar family
Anticlockwise movements
c round

o round, round and join

a round, up, down and flick

d round, up, up, down, down and flick

g round, up, down, down and round

q round, up, down, down and tick

s round and round the other way

f round, down, down and round – across

e across and round
one armed robot family
down, up and over movements

r down, up and over a bit

n down, up, over, down and flick

m down, up, over and down, up, over, down and flick

h down, down, up a bit, over, down and flick

b down, down, up a bit, over and round

p down, down, up, up, over and round

k down, down, up a bit, over, round, out and flick

long ladder family
mainly down and round movements

l down, down and flick

i down and flick – dot

t down and flick – across

j down, down and round – dot

u down, round, up, down and flick

y down, round, up, down, down and round

zig zag monster
diagonal movements

v down, up

w down, up, down, up

x down, stop – down, stop

z across, down, across

for joined writing we add a "whoosh" to the beginning

becstarsky Thu 18-Aug-11 18:58:39

Wow!!! mrz, you are a very, very kind person indeed. Thank you so much - you've given me just the set of tools I needed. The fine motor things which his teacher mentioned to me were all things that DS doesn't like doing (colouring, play dough) but you've given me some things that he will actually enjoy - I'm sure the puppet fingers will be very popular. And I'd never heard about vertical surfaces helping. THANK YOU grin !!!

mrz Thu 18-Aug-11 19:05:17
he might enjoy reading on line

greengoose Thu 18-Aug-11 19:07:22

Hi, my son has gone through a similar pattern, but goes to an alternative school, so has the good fortune that his confidence hasn't taken a knock yet. (he is 8, and just getting the hang of reading now). He has been for hearing tests, which is the first thing they will rule out if you want to assess for dyslexia, the next is his sight.... my son has got quite strong glasses, and that has obviously helped no end. (so id get hearing test and eye test just to clear these up). is a great site, and talks better than i can about what dyslexia is and that more often that not the problem is with the teaching not the child. The Dandilion Readers books they recommend are brilliant.
To reassure you a bit, I am dyslexic, and have a master degree, so is my DH. I would not wish dyslexia on anyone, but I think it has lots of good bits too, and my son is scoring at age 11 in everything but reading..... the main thing is to find ways to allow him to know he is bright and clever and that not reading is not 'stupid'. Talk lots about what he is great at. Maybe join a club for something that he will succeed in, like art, drama, sports, etc. Most of us can learn to read, but learning to feel good about ourselves is so much harder....... games like letter/ word bingo, using a stopwatch, using letter stampers to make words, basic card games with words have all been great for our DS. You might have to accept that you will have to do a lot of extra work at home, but this can be disguised as fun. We are about to start DS with a specialist dyslexia tutor so that he is as much up to speed as possible by highschool. This is going to cost a bit, but better now than when he is really struggling........ We'll just not have a holiday this year!

becstarsky Thu 18-Aug-11 19:11:25

I think he'll like that! The books he wants me to read to him tend to be quite advanced (Famous Five, Dinosaur Cove) with real stories, but of course those books are quite inaccessible for him to even try to read himself. Whereas picture books, which he probably could start to have a stab at, he says are 'babyish'... But maybe he'll feel more 'grown up' if he's doing it on the computer!

mrz Thu 18-Aug-11 19:17:29

The comic strip type books are quite good because you can read the bulk but encourage him to read some of the speech bubbles (and not babyish)

becstarsky Thu 18-Aug-11 19:20:06

X-posted greengoose - thank you for sharing that. I have wondered about DS's sight and hearing, but it's hard to tell as he's quite dreamy - is he not hearing, or is he just daydreaming!?! Might look into that further. I'll check out that site too, thank you. We do emphasise the things he's good at - he does swimming and drama after school and is amazing at both (I'm boasting now, I know, but honestly how many 5 year olds can swim two lengths with proper tumble turns? The child is clearly a genius... grin) It's good to hear that we're doing something right iykwim. I agree totally about the 'feeling good about yourself' thing - that's why I got upset about that girl calling him 'stupid'. Tutor sounds like a much better investment than a holiday - we'll definitely choose the same when it comes to it.

becstarsky Thu 18-Aug-11 19:21:04

mrz - comic strip books! Of course - he's so into the Marvel superheroes, why didn't I think of that? Genius suggestion - thank you!

letmelearn Thu 18-Aug-11 20:03:45

Hi becstarsky,

That's some great advice you've been given there. The only things I can add are go big on the multi-sensory learning (does he like making biscuits - get some alphabet cookie cutters) which might help him and Bulldog Letter Reversals. I'm a tutor and a dyslexia teacher and I see lots of children that start off with poor reading and writing skills but make marked improvements within a few years. Like you say he is young and a summer child - most, if not all of the children that I tutor are born in the summer!!

I would say the most important thing is to keep your eye on the situation and monitor - if you're still concerned don't be afraid to go and speak to the teacher or the headteacher. Also, having many supply teachers is hugely disturbing and this could be part of the problem.

letmelearn Thu 18-Aug-11 20:05:29

BTW Boffin Boy are a great series of books - full of exciting pictures and very few words - if you can get him to fall in love with books, well... that would be great!! smile

MigratingCoconuts Fri 19-Aug-11 11:41:58

out of interest when is it no longer too early to assess for dyslexia?

IndigoBell Fri 19-Aug-11 11:52:47

Early Recognition of Dyslexia

Certainly DDs problems could have easily been spotted before she started nursery (ie at age 3) if anybody had bothered to look. Her memory problems and word finding difficulties were very evident then. We used to call her 'our little goldfish' blush

Her difficulties haven't changed at all as she's got older - the only thing that's changed is that now she's expected to remember more stuff - especially what sounds letters make, how to spell words, and lots and lots of new vocabulary.

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