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How do you know if your child is dyslexic?

(27 Posts)
EdsRedeemingQualities Mon 29-Oct-12 07:28:54

I hope someone can give me a bit of a shove in the right direction here, because I'm a bit slow at seeing the whole picture or what I ought to be doing.

I've thought for many years that ds1 is dyslexic, in some way (I know there are different kinds) but so far, his school refuses to address this beyond a perfunctory 10 minute 'test' (no idea what it involves) which they say he was fine with. That was last year (y4).

I had him assessed in y2 but because he was only young (6-7) the lady said he was possibly dyslexic, possibly just immature. It was done as a favour, so we didn't have to pay the £400 and tbh we can't, probably, now, to have it done again. School were not interested at all.

We have been coasting along, and he is getting there, in some things he is above the expected levels (writing is apparently where he should be at end of y6, he's just started y5) but behind in other things and he is slow, and panics easily with work and gets confused.

His 11 plus is coming up and a friend who is dyslexic said that she doesn't think he will pass, and when I told her some of the things he does she was sure he is dyslexic. Now I feel a bit angry with the school for not recognising it or helping him specifically with these issues, though I have tried to myself - but I don't know what to do, and if it is too late.

The 11 plus is something I'd rather he didn't do anyway if he's going to 'fail' but the non-selective schools here are truly appalling, so I'm not sure if it is worth a try or not.

These are the things that make me think he's dyslexic:

writing backwards (especially numbers) without being able to tell, it varies, it switches between backwards and forwards randomly.

Not being able to tell the time at 9yo. We have tried for years, he can do digital, not a clock though.

Having a very vague concept of time - tomorrow, yesterday, in a week, in an hour - all mean very little to him.

Having to be asked about 7 times to do anything, and walking round in circles and tapping things, kicking things, balancing on things all the time while NOT doing the thing he's meant to be doing...iykwim? Like his brain won't process it and make him do it.

I just wondered what I ought to do at this point, really. And what I should be saying to his school.

Thankyou if you got this far.

mummytime Mon 29-Oct-12 08:00:51

Where do you live? If it is within travelling distance of Reading or Oxford then the Dyslexia Research Trust may be able to help.
These symptoms could be consistent with dyslexia, but they could be something else. You could also contact BDA for some advice.

I would also investigate your local schools, including visiting not just relying on hearsay. You could also talk to his teachers about his chances at 11+.

EdsRedeemingQualities Mon 29-Oct-12 08:10:18

Thankyou very much for the links, I will have a look - we're not really within travelling distance of Reading/Oxford but I'll read the websites and see what I can pick up from there.

Teachers won't discuss 11 plus chances till the spring!

maizieD Mon 29-Oct-12 08:31:47

The British Psychological Society's definition of dyslexia:

Dyslexia is evident when accurate and fluent word reading and/or spelling develops very incompletely or with great difficulty. This focuses on literacy at the word level and implies that the problem is severe and persistent despite appropriate learning opportunities.

Does this describe your son?

No? then it's not dyslexia (for which statement I shall probbly be flamed or banned from mumsnet...).

I have no doubt, from your description, that he has a processing 'difficulty' of some sort (though consider whether his behaviour is seriously worrying or just doesn't conform to what is considered as 'normal,). It would be far better to discover what the difficulty is rather than to lumber him with the vague and all encompassing 'dyslexia' label.

This is a good review of 'dyslexia':

EdsRedeemingQualities Mon 29-Oct-12 08:36:17

It's been him until this last year - his spelling is still very random, his writing not particularly legible - but he is getting on far better than he was.

So no, literacy is not such a problem as it looked like being.

It's the other things that make me think something is wrong. The time awareness and so on.

How can I find out what the problem is, though, if it isn't dyslexia? Any thoughts gratefully received - and thankyou for posting the link.

maizieD Mon 29-Oct-12 08:48:35

You say that school is not interested. Is this because he his doing OK academically?

TBH, if the school won't get him assessed by an EP I wouldn't really know how you would find out what, if anything, is 'wrong' without paying for a private assessment. And if you were to go private I would suggest that you don't go to a psychologist that specialises in 'dyslexia' diagnosis, because that is what they will find, as sure as eggs are eggs!

EdsRedeemingQualities Mon 29-Oct-12 08:52:55

Thankyou, yes I had heard that! smile
The woman we went to before was a dyslexia specialist but also a family friend, and she wasn't sure.

I think school isn't interested because he's fundamentally within range - and they just don't care. They have a poor attitude to SN provision at the best of times, even when it's sorely needed and like to brush things under the carpet I think. So they are happy to let him struggle on.

It's just reached the point where I feel maybe he has been let down. The contrast with ds2 who is now 5, and can write and read and all these things FAR better than ds1 ever could till about y2, is pretty stark - this is how a child should understand things, it's easy to teach him, he 'gets' stuff.

And it's made me see what a massive effort it has taken ds1 to get even this far.

KateBeckett Mon 29-Oct-12 09:07:51

malzle I am dyslexic, and had no disernable problems with learning to read and write - in fact was a very early and avid reader. I wasn't diagnosed with dyslexia until I was an adult as already had an undergraduate degree. It does happen sometimes, and is sometimes referred to in the dyslexic community as being 'twice gifted' - basically, I have dyslexia but also a very high iq, which helped me to unconsciously find ways around my difficulties as a child. Though I was always aware when I did tests (gcse's etc) that my grades didn't reflect what I thought I was capable of.

OP he might be dyslexic, he might not... If the shool won't test him (maybe can't - schools in my lea are not able to test for dyslexia, only refer parents on to Dyslexia Action) then your only option really if you are concerned is to do it privately. There are numerous checklists online which can give you an indication of whether he is likely to be dyslexic or not - try googling Dyslexia Action or Dyslexia checklist children.

Fwiw the traits which le me to thinking I could be dyslexic were; difficulty telling the time, left/right confusion, poor handwriting, some difficulty spelling (so called easy words though - tricky ones I find ways to remember!) general disorganisation, misreading things (thinking a door number says 36 when it actually says 63), an inability to organise my thoughts onto paper easily (when writing essays it would take me twice as log as my peers and I would have to rearrange the structure many times for it to make sense).

Of course that is all anecdote and won't help you diagnose him as dyslexic or not, I just thought it might be helpful to hear from a dyslexic person who didn't present with the typical difficulties in literacy.

mrz Mon 29-Oct-12 09:10:00

The problem is a diagnosis of dyslexia doesn't really solve anything. He may be given extra time in exams but it isn't guaranteed. It won't solve the problems he has and it won't make a school with a poor attitude to SEN suddenly change.

EdsRedeemingQualities Mon 29-Oct-12 09:11:57

Kate, thankyou so much - that makes a lot of sense.

He does all those things - reading numbers backwards, left and right confusion, etc. Disorganisation.

I will go and find a checklist in a minute and see how he comes up.

The IQ thing also resonates. When he was assessed in y2, she said his IQ was over 140. It's just that there's no real 'evidence' of this in his schoolwork...he's never been a high scorer. People tend to think he is bright but not academic.

Really useful post - thankyou.

EdsRedeemingQualities Mon 29-Oct-12 09:13:14

Mrz, yes you're right - but what can I do to ensure he gets the help he needs?

I suppose I'm afraid he'll fail the 11 plus, go to a school where no one can be bothered to recognise his potential, and feel like a failure for the rest of his life when actually he's a clever chap and could do really well I think with the right support.

It just makes me really sad.

KateBeckett Mon 29-Oct-12 09:22:32

If the work he is producing on paper doesn't match what he is capable or orally then there is a possibility that he is dyslexic OR has some other difficulty.

I don't know what your budget is like but if the school are unwilling to support him tutoring may help (dyslexia action offer this, but I am sure there will be private tutors who have experience with dyslexia)

As I've said, I managed to get gcse's, a level and an undergraduate degree without a diagnosis, but I still feel some regret that I wasn't diagnosed earlier - with the diagnosis and academic support this offered I managed to complete masters assignments with credit, rather than scraping through - I always wonder what I might have achieved with the right support!

Let me know how he scores on the checklist, I'm interested to know now!

EdsRedeemingQualities Mon 29-Oct-12 09:23:41

Thankyou, I will x

Countrygirlatheart Mon 29-Oct-12 09:27:07

My ds (diagnosed at 10) has all the traits that katebeckett says plus he can't 'hear' words and is unable to break them down. He took ages to tell the time, constantly has to be moving some part of his body - like tapping or shuffling and can't process multiple instructions. I also second what mrz says though. Even though he had a diagnosis the teachers were/are unable to teach any differently and in the end you just have to get him to work out his own strategies to get along. Extra time in the 11+ did not help enough but just putting in the effort of trying to pass all helped and has put my ds in the top stream of the local comp. If we hadn't gone for the 11+ and reduced the 'pressure' because he wasn't going to pass his situation would be much worse now.

mrz Mon 29-Oct-12 09:38:36

The ability to "hear" words is one of the main symptoms on the NHS check list. things like reversals may indicate dyslexia but often non dyslexic individuals will reverse letters, numbers and words so alone it means very little.

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 29-Oct-12 09:45:44

Just to quibble - saying 'dyslexia is evident' is not the same as saying 'nothing except this is dyslexia'.

bruffin Mon 29-Oct-12 09:46:17

My ds is similar to kate, has problems with time and disorganization, but does not constantly move and can process lots of info in obe go. He cant always remember stuff from looking at blackboard to paper. Never had a formal diagnosis but did get one to one in primary for spelling because of the mismatch of writing and obvious intelligence.
He did get extra time for his gcse , but not
until yr 11 and just been assessed again for A levels.

mummytime Mon 29-Oct-12 09:53:59

The key thing is to work out what help he needs. Does he do much better if given more time for a test? Which questions does he struggle with? Can he concentrate? What does he see when he reads? Does a colour filter help? Can he block out surrounding noise? (Does he do better in quiet than buzzy classrooms? This is probably why my son usually does better on exams than expected.) Does it help to have slightly coloured paper to write on/read?

In giving instructions it usually help if you: get attention first (use his name as the first word not the last), and then give specific instructions, broken down into one task at a time, and not too many. Eg. not "Tidy your room" but "George, pick up your dirty washing and put it in the laundry basket, then I'll give you the next instruction." Some HE Mums in the US use tick sheets, to help their kids stay focussed and know what they have to do next.

Two of my kids struggle to tell the time, they both consider themselves to be dyslexic (one diagnosed, privately and one not). I would probably not bother with a diagnosis as long as your child's specific needs are being met. So I would go into school to discuss the specific needs, and I would ask now for advice on suitable schools for him.

But if you are going to try the 11+ then starting to work on Bond books etc. will not do him any harm.

maizieD Mon 29-Oct-12 10:45:37

Such good advice, mummytime.

All I was trying to say was focus on the specific difficulty and steer clear of a catch all label which doesn't get you any further forward.

Chandon Mon 29-Oct-12 10:57:51


My son has always been a fair bit behind with reading and writing. In y1 he was 1 year behind where he should be, in y3 he was 1.5 years behind where he should be.

His spelling has always been poor, and he just cannot seem to remember them. He is o.k. At reading now though ( we practice at home).

Just before he turned 9, I decided to have him tested privately by an Ed. psych at Dyslexia Action. The school did not want to test him as it costs them money(!) and he was not on par for getting to level 4b by year 6 anyway (!!!!), so a bit of a lost cause to them, remember schools have their own agendas.

So I had him tested, and he came out as very clearly dyslexic. The main point beng that his literacy skill is very low compared to his IQ. His main problem is auditory processing.

Knowing this means teacher can help in a specific way, and he gets one on one help ( but I moved him to a private school for that, which is not possible for everyone, I know). if I had not moved him, I would have paid for a dyslexic tutor to help him.

I am thinking of enetring him now for a selective secondary, as they take into account dyslexia and allow extra time for tests ( may be same for your school?). however, you need to Ed Psych report to get exra time, and to " prove" dyslexia and get extra help.

I would say, if you can in any way afford it, go and have him tested. It is very helpful in pinpointing exactly where his weak spots are, and what you can do to help.

mummytime Mon 29-Oct-12 11:13:40

You do not need to prove dyslexia for extra-time or help. You need to prove your child needs the extra-time/help. For GCSEs you need to show the pupils usually has the help to access the curriculum, for SATs it is much harder and the child has to fail three tests (at least when I last looked), if they pass one they don't get that help. Although my son did get someone to transcribe his work so an examiner could read it.
I'm not sure what the hoops are for 11+, you need to investigate this for your area.

The one thing I would be concerned is that there are things other than Dyslexia which cause the issues you've described so far, so I would keep a watch, maybe keep a diary, in case he has another difficulty.

Orangelephantshavewrinkles Mon 29-Oct-12 11:46:23

I recently got diagnosed with Irlen syndrome after years of having dyslexic like tendencies. Although you may think dyslexia it could be something co pletely different.

auntevil Mon 29-Oct-12 15:19:30

Behavioural Optometrists look at many of the causes that could link to the symptoms of dyslexia - eye tracking/convergence etc
Some of the initial tests that are done by a BO are also done on the NHS. A referral to your local children's eye hospital can check lens shape, tracking function and they can also do a colour overlay assessment - which might show that it is worth paying for a BO to get the whole picture.

CaptainHoratioWragge Mon 29-Oct-12 15:40:03

I could have written Kate's post- I am dyslexic, bright and was an avid and early reader, which many people seemed to think ruled out dyslexia.

I acutally think if you are a bright kid with undiagnosed dyslexia then school is going to be a bit miserable for you and reading will especially appeal as it is a form of escape from the difficulties that dyslexia presents.

This is a fact which seems to have not occured to the teaching profession.

I struggled in particular with telling the time, balance and co-ordination, knowing my left from right, terribly handwriting and messy work generally- a complete inability to organise myself- paint on everything, writing in margins, losing things, starting work in the wrong books etc confusion over reading words with rarer endings (because I was actually guessing the words rather than reading them), misreading things generally and having difficulty seeing the broader picture ie how a history lesson fitted into the general scope of history. I also have really poor spatial awareness and balance. Some of these things would probably be diagnosed as dyspraxia now instead, but it wasn't known then.

What I would say is make a pain of yourself and fight for your son. It doesn't much matter if you alienate yourself from the teachers at his school, local edu authority etc, as he won't be in that school much longer so its better to get him the help he needs. They might well not do this unless you force them into it.

I am 37 and was diagnosed at 10 1/2 when dyslexia was not much understood. The headmaster of my primary school actually told my parents when they asked about it 'Dyslexia is a middle class condition for pushy parents whose offspring are not as capable as they would like' and refused to send me for a test. Thankfully that ignorance is getting lesser but it has not yet gone.

I still have the answer sheet from my dyslexia test- it is heartbreaking- one of the questions was 'at what temperature does water boil' and I put a little note in the margin about how this was a misleading question because water boils at different temperatures depending on the position above sea level at which the water his heated. At the time I was on the bottom table for everything and considered to be a very incapable child, who certainly wasn't 11 plus material.
I got a maximum of 140 out of 140 on the adult IQ test at 10 1/2 but I couldn't write the answers in a straight line- it looks like a drunk person wrote it. How any teacher could not realise there was something seriously wrong there is beyond me.

didldidi Mon 29-Oct-12 15:44:02

I second what auntevil says a BO was able to pinpoint the specific learning difficulties my son has.

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