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When can children be reliably tested for dyslexia?

(20 Posts)
ELZGirlz Tue 11-Oct-11 11:23:13

DD, 5 years old, year 1, struggles with writing. Her teacher told us she has dyslexic tendencies and it's at the back of her mind that she may have dyslexia. She really struggles with writing, mirror image and backwards letters, sounding words out, she wrote "bic" yesterday for drink. Her letter formation is incorrect for most letters. She cannot write a sentence and is way behind the rest of her class and is losing confidence quickly. Her reading is better but not yet reached 1c. She can sound out simple words if in text where she can see the word, but can't link sounds to writing words. Her teacher told us that they cannot reliably test her until 7 years old, but she's falling further behind and making little progress. Any advice would be gratefully received. Thank you.

IndigoBell Tue 11-Oct-11 11:30:00

A dx of dyslexia won't help. A dx of dyslexia just says that your child has difficulties with reading and or writing - which both you and school already know.

It is up to school to work out how they can teach her. A piece of paper saying she has dyslexia won't help school work out how they can teach her.

Bugsy2 Tue 11-Oct-11 11:30:47

You can't test for dyslexia per se, as it is a bit of a made up term. You can have a child tested for cognitive impairments, which may be why she is struggling with reading & writing. The younger the child, the harder it is to test for the impairments, because it could just be immaturity of development in certain areas and I doubt a health professional would attempt any assessment before 7. There are lots of things that you, or the school can do, to help with reading & writing. Probably worth exploring those & waiting a while longer for any kind of formal assessment.

StillSquiffy Tue 11-Oct-11 11:36:08

We had to wait until DS was 7, and even when he was assessed we were told to return in 12 months time because even 7 is considered 'early' to test.

Things we did which helped:-

1) bought an 'air cushion' (not a 'wedge' one, though) - you can get form specialist training support websites, about £20
2) Gave DS a 'beany toy' to squeeze with one hand when reading
3) Lots of fine motor skills stuff - lego, musical instruments, craft activities are all good
4) Make sure she is being asked to do only one thing at a time. EG if it's handwriting, you tell her not to worry about spelling and vice versa. Likewise for some (we are talking dyspraxic tendancies) it is very difficult to flip from sounding out words to blending them to pronouncing the whole word. sometimes you need to step back and only concentrate on one skill during a reading session, not all the skills. Likewise, don't bombard her with multiple instructions and make sure she is taking things in. With DS I always start by saying "STOP" <pause until he stops> "LOOK AT ME" <make sure he is looking at me> "Can you please do X?" It sounds really patronising but he doesn't mind and it ensures that when I need him to do something I know it has sunk in. If your DD is dyspraxic it can often manifest itself in falling behind on rrading and writing, simply because most of what she is being told isn't sinking in.
5) Do lots of shadow reading (you read the book, pointing to each word and then ask her to continue for a word or two whilst you go silent before you pick it up again). That was a very shorthand description - am sure there is more on the web about technique
6) Let her go at her own pace. If she is happy to do 5 minutes at home then be happy with that. If she is dyslexic then pushing her to do more will damage her confidence and not really keep her up with the rest anyway, if she is not dyslexic she will catch up in her own time when she is ready.

ELZGirlz Tue 11-Oct-11 11:37:04

Thank you. We are practising writing in lots of fun ways, modelling, finger writing in paint etc, but she doesn't seem to make any progress. I'll make an appt with her teacher to discuss how best to practise. The teacher in the parallell class is the KS1 Senco, so I'll ask her to attend to.

ELZGirlz Tue 11-Oct-11 11:46:32

Is there any tips for what I should ask the teacher? I get the impression DD isn't getting alot of help. She says only once her teacher helped her write number 5. Not to sure because she is only 5! Thanks.

IndigoBell Tue 11-Oct-11 11:52:27

You need to find out if she is being taught using phonics or mixed methods.

How much phonic instruction does she get, and is it whole class or in a small group.

She needs to always be able to see the alphabet and number line so that she has a chance of getting her letters round the right way.

Bugsy2 Tue 11-Oct-11 11:53:26

If your DD is in a class of 30, then she won't be getting much help. Asking for guidance from the KS1 Senco is a really good idea. Have a look at some of the dyslexia websites - lots of good advice on them. Remember she is still very young, so try not to worry about it too much.

ELZGirlz Tue 11-Oct-11 11:56:41

I know they use jolly phonics and its taught in ability groups. She is in the lower ability group which is taught by the TA. She is in the lower ability group for general literacy, taught by her teacher. I'll see if she can see letters and numbers when I go in. Thanks

IndigoBell Tue 11-Oct-11 12:00:03

If your DD is in a class of 30, then she won't be getting much help. - not necessarily true at all.

My DD got plenty of help in Y1. 1:1 with her teacher, 1:1 with a TA, small group phonic work, a TA on her table.........

Jolly phonics is an OK phonic scheme, but it's not the best. It's good though that they teach phonics in ability groups.

Bugsy2 Tue 11-Oct-11 12:07:28

Indigo, depends on the school set up. If there is no TA or only a part-time TA, then not necessarily. Also depends on the neediness of the other pupils. If there are a high number of children needing higher levels of help, then the time has to be shared out.

DS1 is probably mildly dyslexic and we found seeing an occupational therapist helped with motor control because he had some retained reflexes.

He is 8 and still has to use thumbs up for b and d i.e. left hand makes b and right hand makes d. He has finally learned the entire alphabet in order by singing the alphabet song with me.

We and now the school have done Toe by Toe with him, the school are doing stareway to spelling and I am working with him on the Ruth Miskin spelling programme.

Chat to the school SENCO about what you can do now to help your DD with her reading whether or not she is dyslexic. I still don't have a formal diagnosis for DS1 but he has gone from reading more than a year below his chronological age and me having to act as his scribe for homework to reading at around his age or slightly above and having fairly legible handwriting (he won't win prizes for it but it is readable and no longer painfully slow).

The key is to find interventions that help your DD with the problems she is having to stop her falling to far behind. If you wait until she is old enough to test she could have slipped a long way behind her classmates. Up to a point, the label doesn't matter all that matters is that you find strategies to help her.

IndigoBell Tue 11-Oct-11 13:25:01

Stareway to spelling! shock That won't teach him to spell!

That will only teach him to memorise the 300 most frequently used words. But it won't teach him how to spell, ie any phonics or rules for spelling.

There is no way I'd use it with an 8 year old sad

I would use it with an older child who I had totally given up on being able to teach him how to spell.

Apples & Pears, Hornet Literacy Primer & Word Wasp are all far better spelling programs school should use sad

kahlua4me Tue 11-Oct-11 13:31:18

My ds has just been tested at the dyslexia trust in Reading. They were fantastic there and very thorough.
It turns out that he has double vision and is so much better now he has the blue lens glasses.
I have taken him to several opticians, including the hospital and nobody has picked this up.
He is doing much better at school and his mood is so positive now, completely different from the sad, uncofident boy he was becoming. And his writing is improving rapidly!

Fifis25StottieCakes Tue 11-Oct-11 13:40:06

Some LEA phycs dont diagnose, our dont and there is an 18mnth wait so i am looking into going private.


They do a whole range of different things which do seem to be working with him Stareway to Spelling is just part of it. They are quite clued up perhaps because it is a boy's school and for some reason dyslexia often seems to be recognised more quickly in boys. He gets one-on-one every day and his reading, spelling and handwriting are improving.

I am doing the Ruth Miskin Spelling Programme which covers phonic rules.

I should add that although he is 8 he is in year 4 as he is a summer birthday so he is further through the school that his age might suggest.

mrz Tue 11-Oct-11 15:01:01

I would expect children to have completed Jolly Phonics before the end of reception and to have moved onto the complex code by Y1.

I think sometimes part of the problem is that children haven't been taught how to form letters correctly in the first place. With correct formation embedded children are less likely to reverse /confuse letters and joined handwriting does help with word reversals.

ELZGirlz Tue 11-Oct-11 17:26:53

She's learning joined up writing and struggles with letter formation. She can sound out single letter sounds, ee, oo, sh, th, ch ,or, any others like ai etc is difficult for her. She occasionally recognises them in text form, like on flashcards, but then cannot seem to piece a word together and write it. I don't know what to concentrate on first, letter formation or just phonics, I'm a bit of a novice!

mrz Tue 11-Oct-11 18:28:26

They need to be taught together

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