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Are these signs of a real learning problem, or is it just our approach?

(51 Posts)
ProbablyJustGas Thu 23-Aug-12 11:42:40

Or is it maybe just attention-seeking behavior?

Sorry this is long, but I could use some perspective on this from the more experienced folks here. Getting tired of worrying so much if we don't need to, and getting tired of feeling useless/neglectful if we do indeed need to worry.

Six-and-a-half year-old DSD is now back at school (a young P3), so we are trying to get back into a routine of "you read one, I'll read one" with the bedtime stories. It's not going that great so far - the progress she made during P2, which I raved about a few months ago, seems to have slid backwards a fair bit.

We have some ORT storybooks at home (Floppy's Phonics and Songbirds) for her to practice reading with. We didn't bust them out at all during summer break, but this week I found her a Stage 2 Songbirds story to read (she was on Stage 5 ORT at end of school, but I couldn't find the Stage 5 book we own).

The story I settled on should have been easy for her - all short vowels, no "sh" or "ch", one "ow" - but to start with, she was constantly sounding out every single word. Even "has" was "heh-aa-ss, has". At that point, DH stopped her to tell her that if she knew the word already, she didn't need to sound it out first, she could just say it. To which she replied, "I know, but I forgot this word." hmm She also paused after every single word to look at the pair of us (she was sitting on DH's knee reading, I was sat next to him) and verify whether she was reading correctly. DH told her to just carry on, we would only stop her if she didn't read a word correctly, which we needed to do occasionally. She got lazy with one or two words (guessing "has" when it said "had" or "and" when it said something completely different). Forgot the sound "v" and called it "z" - "Viv" became "Ziz" - which was a bit startling because she's never done that before (although she used to mix up "m" and "w" all the time). She needed help (still???) with "now" and thought it was "neh-aw-weh... neh-aweh?"

Now here is where I'm confused. We got fed up with her constantly stopping, looking at us, getting distracted by the pictures, etc, and decided to take her off DH's knee and sit on the floor. She stayed on the bed and continued to read. Suddenly, the reading was a lot smoother. No more "heh-aa-ss". confused She had the same reaction to DH sitting on the floor once or twice in May/June as well, at the end of P2.

Last night, she decided to read "Princess Smartypants" to DH at bedtime, but figured out quickly that the reading would not be not as straightforward as ORT. She stopped trying and fell back on an old complaint, which is "The words are too small." Last year, we actually took her to the optometrist to get her eyes checked, because she was complaining about "too small" words so much, but the doc said she doesn't need glasses. Anyway, DH lost patience with her and snapped about words being the same whether they're large or small, so it shouldn't matter when she reads them. sad He had to apologize to her today.

DSD also occasionally forgets really common names for objects - words that are already in her vocabulary, like "table" or "fridge". She hadn't been doing this for a few months, but on Monday night forgot the name for "matches" and called them "you know, those lighty-up thingies that you light the candles with". Sometimes, rather than use words to say what she is thinking of, or use words to answer a question, she'll point to an object or try to mime the action. A year ago, she also used to constantly refer to objects as "that thing over there", but we started to push her for better descriptions (what color is it, is it on top of something, etc), so she doesn't do that as much anymore.

All of the stuff I've described above here isn't brand new - it's all been going on for the past couple of school years, and it looks like we're in for a third. We've spoken with the school about her reading before, and her teacher insisted that she was maybe a little behind because of her age, but not so behind that she flagged up any special needs intervention.

So... Are we just neurotic, impatient ogres and destroying her confidence while she reads? confused Are we lazy, incompetent parents who should have been cracking the whip with the reading aloud this summer? sad Is stumbling on "has" actually just a silly, attention-seeking thing? Or are there definitely signs of a learning difficulty here? All of the above?

Again, sorry about the length!

IndigoBell Thu 23-Aug-12 12:12:18

The difficulties with word finding is interesting - because it is a problem my severely dyslexic DD had (before we did a number of therapies)

The rest I'm not sure about.

I don't think it's attention seeking.

It might be dyslexia.

After 2 years of school a child should be secure on all their letters.

Do you think it's dyslexia?

ProbablyJustGas Thu 23-Aug-12 12:27:43

I've suspected it on and off, but she did make progress in school last year - from Stage 1+ to Stage 5 in the school's reading scheme. The word finding issue has always raised flags with me, but then there's the change in her reading when we're no longer looking over her shoulder at the book.

We did one of those online assessments with her last year, just to see if it would flag up anything, and there were some spacial awareness issues ("the mouse is behind the shape under the square" ... she would focus on "square" and think the mouse was hiding there). But even that test didn't raise enough issues to be Smart Cat's version of dyslexia. I'm not sure if you've come across this one at all? www.smartcatlearning.com/

The night that I picked the ORT story for her to read, she wanted to read Eric Carle's "The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse" instead. It's one she loves, but she loves it because it's easy. The words are very large print, the longer words are easy to guess correctly based on the pictures, and she's pretty much memorized the text. So, we told her no.

Poor kid. DH and I were taught the old way and learned before we started primary school. We are so out of our depth sometimes...

IndigoBell Thu 23-Aug-12 12:33:45

Well, there's loads and loads of vision problems you can have which a standard trip to the optician wouldn't pick up.

The most important one being convergence insufficiency, which is the ability to focus both eyes together.

So I would recommend a proper vision test - if you're in Scotland the best place is Jordan's in Ayr.

But, there is more going on with her than just possible vision problems.

These are the things which were the cause of my DDs dyslexia:

* Dairy intolerance
* Leaky gut / Candida
* Vision problems
* Auditory problems
* Neurodevelopment problems

All you need to do is look at all of those areas, and you'll find what's causing her difficulties. smile

It was a brilliant neurodevelopment therapy (Tinsley House) which cured my DDs word finding difficulties. I highly recommend it - but it's nowhere near you.

mummytime Thu 23-Aug-12 12:36:47

I would really push at school for her to be properly assessed. I would also push to have her eyes assessed by a real specialist, not just a high street Optaician. Probably a Behavioural Optomitrist, or someone with real interest in the connections between visual problems and learning.
My DS has 20/20 vision but also had a tracking problem and a lack of dominant eye which affected his reading. He actually finds using a Kindle far easier to read from.

maizieD Thu 23-Aug-12 13:20:18

Please don't start thinking 'dyslexia'. That she can read is evident, even if it it is not as fluent as you would like. And please don't do 'on-line assessments', they can't possibly pinpoint specific difficulties and are often the 'front' for some expensive and unnecessary programme..

You need to be looking at her specific difficulty, which appears to be word finding difficulties. Which is a Speech and Language problem. Push for assessment at school if possible.

With regard to the reading, she needs to feel comfortable with it. If she decides to sound out every word, just let her. If she doesn't 'need' to to it she'll get bored with the game; if she does need to then it is all contributing to consolidating her letter/sound correspondence knowledge, which can only be a Good Thing smile. There is no milage at all in making reading a battle. I suspect that she chose the memorised book because she couldn't get anything wrong; so no nagging disapproval from parents. Do you think that, as a DSD, there might be some emotional issues involved somewhere?

I'd keep the book reading very low key for a while, but read to her if she enjoys that. You can maybe get her to practice by 'helping ' you to read words in the environment (words that she has the phonic knowledge to read, of course). Would she like to teach her toys to read? Or have a toy read the book with her and make really silly mistakes for her to correct? Just make it fun and help her to feel in control of her reading.

lljkk Thu 23-Aug-12 13:28:46

I'm a bit hmm at the notion that dietary sensitivity can cause dyslexia.
Whatever you do don't pressure her, don't crack the whip.

Do you think she's a bit scatty in general? Some MNers talk about poor working memory, something you could google, anyway.

ProbablyJustGas Thu 23-Aug-12 14:02:35

@maizieD: Yeah, there probably are some emotional issues at work too. She has equal access to both of her parents, and we all try our best with her, but DSD admitted she cried yesterday during school lunch because she missed Mummy and Daddy. ::sigh:: sad

We'll keep reading to her. And maybe suggest that she be the teacher and one of us will be the student on the days she wants to read aloud. Or have her animals be her class.

DH was actually wondering about calling the school again right away to discuss her, but I thought it was better to wait a couple weeks and let her teachers (3/2 job share) get to know her first. And maybe see if DSD's mother still sees issues on her end - she hasn't had her week with DSD in the new school year yet. But yeah, maybe it is best to speak to the school sooner. Which will be fun, because I'm pretty sure that after the four-parents-at-once conference with DSD's teacher and deputy head last year, we've earned a reputation in the school office. :-p

IndigoBell Thu 23-Aug-12 14:08:42

lljkk - Dietary sensitivity can cause dyslexia.

Estimates range from 60% - 100% of children with 'dyslexia' have food intolerances.

As far as I can know what is really happening is that the food intolerance is caused by the same thing which is causing the dyslexia - an underdeveloped Cerebellum.

In the case of the food intolerance what is happening is the Cerebellum is producing the wrong amount of Coritsol, which is making the immune system too active which is causing food intolerance.

So you can either:

* Fix the cerebellum
* Or cut out the food
* Or take anti-histamines.

All of those things will help the symptoms of dyslexia - ie reading and spelling difficulties.

Cutting out dairy has had a dramatic effect on DDs ability to read, spell, and talk.

IndigoBell Thu 23-Aug-12 14:13:36

OP - Maizie has a very narrow defn of dyslexia - she only includes difficulties with learning to read and spell as part of dyslexia.

And as a teacher she can do that.

But as a parent you don't have that luxury. You have to look at your whole child and work out what all her problems are.

And work out whether all her difficulties are due to one thing or multiple.....

A standard NHS S&L assessment won't pick up the kind of mild word finding difficulties you mention - or at least the one DD took didn't.

lljkk Thu 23-Aug-12 16:03:58

Well fair enough, I understand the clarification and was hoping that's what you meant, I just objected to the word "cause". Better to describe measures that "alleviate" the symptoms?

In library, I picked up a book about ADHD the other day and found it infuriating that book was trying to say same thing, implying that fairly crud diet was to blame for 99% of ADHD cases. angry

BlueMoon1084 Thu 23-Aug-12 16:38:10

Indigo, did you mean the cerebellum, or where you referring to the hypothalamus?

IndigoBell Thu 23-Aug-12 16:44:40

No, I meant the cerebellum.

However I could be wrong.... I didn't take notes when it was being explained to me. And I can't remember exactly everything he said. smile

But the gist of it was definitely that DDs dairy intolerance was caused by the brain producing the wrong amount of cortisol.

And that as her brain matures/improves/develops with the neurodevelopment therapy she's doing, her dairy intolerance will also disappear.

IndigoBell Thu 23-Aug-12 16:44:52

And it the mean time, she shouldn't have any dairy.

BlueMoon1084 Thu 23-Aug-12 17:23:41

Indigo, I understand that feeling of being blinded by too much information. smile I have a feeling the hypothalalmus and pituitary gland control cortisol production. The cerebellum is responsible for motor control, attention and language though which would probably have been mentioned at the same time and may be relevant to the OP.

OP, one thing I've found with my Dneice is that getting her to read at bedtime is hopeless. More often than not she's too tired and because reading isn't yet an automatic process for her it can badly affect how well she reads.

IndigoBell Thu 23-Aug-12 18:50:37

BlueMoon - yeah, I must have got it slightly wrong. smile

lljkk - I think it is a cause, not just something that alleviates the symptoms.

Because I think what's happening is the dairy intolerance is causing inflammation in the brain which is part of what's causing the dyslexia.

I don't think it's the only cause, but I think it is (in DDs case) a major cause.

So the original cause is still a neurodevelopement problem, but that neurodevelopment problem is causing dairy intolerance, and that is causing brain inflamation, which is causing most of DDs difficulties.

So cutting out dairy has caused most (but not all) of her problems to go.

maizieD Thu 23-Aug-12 19:09:13

OP - Maizie has a very narrow defn of dyslexia - she only includes difficulties with learning to read and spell as part of dyslexia.

IB, the very last thing I would want to do is fall out with you but I am using the British Psychological Society definition of 'dyslexia':

BPS Definition

The British Psychological Society reviewed the evidence and adopted the following definition in 1999. This definition refers only to word-level skills with no mention of other deficits or symptoms.

“Dyslexia is evident when:

accurate and fluent reading and or spelling develops very incompletely or with great difficulty. This focuses on literacy learning at the “word level” and implies that the problem is severe and persistent despite appropriate learning opportunities.
It provides the basis for a staged process of assessment through teaching.

https://sites.google.com/site/eptoolbox/dyslexia

If dyslexia is to have any credibility as a discrete 'condition' it has to at least stick to the definition the agreed by the 'experts'. As it is, it seems to be user defined and to encompass any old thing that anyone cares to mention.

As you know very well, the label is not of much practical help as it doesn't actually tell you what is affecting the acquisition of reading and writing. The most useful information comes from investigating and trying to establish the precise difficulty or difficulties that are preventing a child from learning to read and write. No label of 'dyslexia' is going to tell you anything like the things you have found out about your dd. What it might do, though, when used in the imprecise catch all way that it is, is suck people into believing that some perfectly common, and heretofore considered 'normal', human traits are abnormal and a cause for deep concern and lots of specialist treatment

You know that I do not write off any child that I work with; that I am very aware that some children have immense difficulty with learning to read and I do my level best to pinpoint the problem and work out ways of overcoming it. But I will not apply the term 'dyslexia' to anything but difficulty with acquiring reading and writing and then only if I am really forced to do it...

You tell me that 'dyslexia' is a symptom, though and I'm with you all the way.

So far, this six and a half year old has not displayed particular difficulties with reading but does have word finding difficulties. This is nothing to do with dyslexia in the professionally accepted defintion of the term. It is a Speech and Language problem and can be dealt with perfectly effectively by the correct professionals.

IndigoBell Thu 23-Aug-12 19:27:55

Maizie - I certainly don't want to fall out with you. smile

And we are probably in agreement... because I don't think 'dyslexia' does have any credibility as a discrete condition.

I don't think you'll ever find a child who has reading and spelling difficulties - that aren't due to poor teaching - that does not also have other difficulties.

The other difficulties are wide ranging and can include just about anything else ( especially dyspraxia, speech, memory, vision, auditory, adhd....)

The reason there are so many things that are either part of dyslexia or are co-morbid with dyslexia, is because dyslexia is an incorrect label.

I don't think 'dyslexia' does have any credibility as a discrete condition.

I think it only has credibility as symptoms of a different condition - developmental delay syndrome.

Don't you think the OPs DSD is displaying some difficulties learning to read? Not being secure on all her letters after 2 years at school? Not reading any words fluently after 2 years of school?

I think she is - and combined with the info about her having word finding difficulties it sounds to me like 'developmental delay syndrome'

However I normally use the term 'dyslexia' instead of 'developmental delay syndrome' because people are more likely to know what I mean if I say dyslexia.

maizieD Thu 23-Aug-12 20:41:18

Don't you think the OPs DSD is displaying some difficulties learning to read? Not being secure on all her letters after 2 years at school? Not reading any words fluently after 2 years of school?

I think that not recalling the correspondences could be part of the word finding difficulties. OP said she did read words fluently at one point. I suspect that there might be some attention seeking and confidence issues mixed in with the language difficulty. I don't think that regressing (which is how the OP sees it) is quite the same as not 'getting it' in the first place.

I might be very wrong but I wouldn't rush to 'label' without more professional investigation.

At the risk of raising hackles I would say that, in my experience, pupils who have come to our school with a history of Speech and Language difficulties seem to have had better 'remediation' in KS1/2 than children with 'dyslexia'...

stargirl1701 Thu 23-Aug-12 20:47:21

I would ask the school for a referral to your Ed Psych. You can request a phone call rather than observation so you can discuss your concerns (waiting for obs can take a long time). After chatting the EP may suggest obs or a referral to another prof.

IndigoBell Thu 23-Aug-12 21:20:07

I think that not recalling the correspondences could be part of the word finding difficulties

Good point. I never thought of it that way.

Seeing as DD has both difficulties (word finding and dyslexia) it never occurred to me that the reason she couldn't learn her letters and sound was due to 'word finding difficutlies' rather than 'dyslexia'. But you're right. That makes a lot of sense.

At the risk of raising hackles I would say that, in my experience, pupils who have come to our school with a history of Speech and Language difficulties seem to have had better 'remediation' in KS1/2 than children with 'dyslexia'..

Sure, my LEA employs SALTs, but has no SpLD teachers at all. And DD was seen by a SALT (who found no problems) well before she was seen by an EP.

But I still think the difficulties described probably aren't bad enough to get any help from a LEA SALT. Maybe not. Depends how obvious the word finding difficulties are to someone other than a parent....

maizieD Thu 23-Aug-12 23:35:50

IB,
Interestingly, just a few writers about dyslexia get away from the fixation about 'phonological deficits' and mention in passing that 'rapid automatic naming' (RAN) deficits are also implicated in 'dyslexia'. Now, it seems to me that RAN is needed for recall of spoken vocabulary and for recall of letter/sound correspondences so the two may be connected (I might just be talking myself into 'dyslexia' here, after all wink ) I have noted that my toughest cases have tended to have far more trouble with recall of correspondences (more than just occasionally forgetting them while learning) than with phonemic awareness. (Though none of them has been dx with a Speech & Language problem hmm).

mummytime Fri 24-Aug-12 06:15:09

I went to a talk about the brain and dyslexia in which the researcher talked about there being two forms of dyslexia. Basically 80% have difficulty with matching the letter shape to the sound, and then blending to form words but have no problem then matching words to the object/thing they represent. However 20% have don't have problems with the letter shape to sound to sounding out word, but do have huge problems matching the word to the object.
It was interesting that in his research these two different problems could be clearly separated on a MRI scan, as could the brain of someone who had just never been taught to read.

However OP even if we all argue about whether "dyslexia" is a useful term, your DSD does seem to have "specific learning difficulties" which I would suggest you keep notes on, talk to her about (although what she says about it could be hard to understand full at first), and keep in touch with the school to see what they are doing to help her. My DS used to say the pictures moved, I think this was a side effect of his lack of eye dominance.

maizieD Fri 24-Aug-12 10:40:18

That's a new take on dyslexia! Who was the researcher, can you remember?

mummytime Fri 24-Aug-12 11:33:51

Dr Duncan Milne a book based on his research is "Teaching the Brain to Read". Although I know others have/are working in this area.

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