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9 year old doing well at school but sense there is something "wrong" with English - Dyslexia?

(35 Posts)
FantasticMrMouse Sun 05-Nov-17 21:32:54

We are told that our 9 year old is doing well at school - great at maths, general knowledge etc.

However her English is dreadful.. We employed a tutor for 11+ preparation who mentioned dyslexia for the first time to us. The school say that she's careless so are pushing her to improve accuracy. Examples are writing words like "plants" for "planets", "parrell" for "parallel" etc. She also misses out many words and put randoms capitals in the middle of sentences (e.g. "Person", "Dog").

She learned to read fairly easily in reception/year 1 but we noticed that it was by memory more than phonics, and she found the transition to chapter books very difficult as the words were so close together. We've had her eyes checked for long sightedness (fine). She doesn't read books at all for pleasure, finding it too "tiring" as the words hurt her eyes, but finds papers or magazines easier.

Not sure if it's relevant but she has scored 125+ in standardized tests at school.

My question is whether this sound like dyslexia and if so, how come no-one at school has spotted it? I suspect they're going to laugh at me outright when I bring it up.

LaughingElliot Sun 05-Nov-17 21:39:01

She may have a visual processing disorder, Irlens for example. A normal sight test wouldn’t pick this up, you need a behavioural optometrist. There are simple tests you can do online yourself to get a better idea.

Or it could be a mild dyslexia.

My son uses a program that is designed to activate the part of the brain that is usually inactive in dyslexic children. Although he is not dyslexic, his visual recognition speed is poor. The program is working well for him. Not to say that your daughter has the same problem but just to let you know that there are all kinds of reasons why children flounder

MrsKnightley Sun 05-Nov-17 21:42:26

I would be interested in the name of that computer program @laughing

MummaDeeDee Sun 05-Nov-17 21:45:20

This doesn’t sound like dyslexia to me. I’ve worked in schools for 10 years and your DD sounds like she’s either writing lazily or is in a rush because she’s got lots to write and she wants to get it all down on paper. I would try encouraging her to write slower and check each sentence once she’s written it. Definitely discuss it with your DDs teacher but what you’ve described wouldn’t bring up any red flags that would indicate dyslexia.

FantasticMrMouse Sun 05-Nov-17 21:47:15

@LaughingElliot - I've just looked at the "what is Irlen's" video on that website and actually it does resonate from what she's been saying for years - reading is too tiring, words are hard to pick out etc.

I had never heard of that before - was it an Ed Psych who first raised it or did you go down the route of a behavioural optometrist first?

FantasticMrMouse Sun 05-Nov-17 21:50:30

@MummaDeeDee - thank you for that, I appreciate that's definitely a strong option here! It may well be that she doesn't enjoy reading so makes up excuses not to, when she complains about the font size and eyes hurting. We went 3 times to the opticians in the past 3 years.

Catalufa Sun 05-Nov-17 21:50:59

Teachers aren’t generally experts in diagnosing dyslexia. Does the school have a SENCo you could talk to? Obviously we can’t diagnose your DD online, but it does sound like it would be worth getting her assessed. As Laughing says, it could be dyslexia or a visual processing disorder.

FantasticMrMouse Sun 05-Nov-17 21:53:13

There is no "trained" SENCo at the school. They have struggled to cover this post for years so a teacher covers it part-time.

Backingvocals Sun 05-Nov-17 22:03:38

I saw an ed psych with my son who had similar issues. Written work lagging behind other work. Reading ok but kept skipping lines. Never read for pleasure. They diagnosed some minor dyslexic traits and he now has lots of eye exercises to do plus handwriting support. It’s helping.

FantasticMrMouse Sun 05-Nov-17 22:11:11

Thank you @Backingvocals

That sounds like my dd.. I will talk to the school this week and will see what they think.

We could pay for an ed psych meeting if needed depending on cost if it's needed? Any idea what this might cost in the South East?

LaughingElliot Sun 05-Nov-17 23:33:39

Fantastic no not picked up by ed psych. I researched and thought it sounded like him then took him to a behavioural optometrist who confirmed it and a couple of other problems. He referred me onto a paediatric occupational therapist who identified some other issues and provided us with lots of strategies and some tools. Ed psych wasn’t actually much help in that she told us what we’d already figured out and vaguely recommended tutor.

To the poster asking about the program I’ll PM you

Norestformrz Mon 06-Nov-17 06:03:21

*“*^*She learned to read fairly easily in reception/year 1 but we noticed that it was by memory more than phonics,*^*”*^.^** I think you’ve answered your own question. It’s very common for children who haven’t a secure phonic knowledge to find spelling difficult. Your example of plants for planets is a good example of a child relying on visual memory of a whole word

“^*and she found the transition to chapter books very difficult as the words were so close togethe*^r” and more difficult to rely on ineffective reading strategies. It’s around this stage that many children begin to flounder I’m afraid.

Norestformrz Mon 06-Nov-17 06:27:16

Backingvocals Mon 06-Nov-17 08:43:43

I'm in London. Ours cost around £600 shock. It was very well worth it though. It really helped me understand what precisely was going on.

maizieD Mon 06-Nov-17 08:47:04

Your example of plants for planets is a good example of a child relying on visual memory of a whole word

Would you also consider, mrz that it might be an indication of a hearing problem?

WRT to the 'eyes hurting' it may be that her eye tracking muscles (used for reading print from left to right) are weak if she has not been taught to decode words from L to R all through the word or has had some decoding L to R instruction mixed with whole word Look & Say instruction. Poor eye tracking often produces lots of eye rubbing and tiredness when child is required to read 'correctly'. Practising correct tracking through words strengthens the muscles and makes reading phsysically easier.

Traalaa Mon 06-Nov-17 09:13:29

It might just be tracking issues, but it's definitely worth investigating Irlen's too. Just ask your dd if words move when she looks at them on a page. My son's year 3 teacher sussed he had a problem, as he couldn't copy from the white board. After testing, he now wears tinted glasses to stop words moving or fogging. He thought everyone experienced it, so had never said anything. I had never heard of such things, so of course I never asked him about it. Also a normal eye test reported back that he had 20:20 vision, so never picked up on it. It's not surprising that we missed it, but it did make me feel awful when we finally found out. He now wears tinted glasses in class and they've made a huge difference.

Alyosha Mon 06-Nov-17 11:56:26

Phonics! This sounds like me. I also learnt to read quickly. Terrible phonics knowledge and dreadful spelling up until the point at which I had intensive phonics intervention. Teachers were very blase as 8 year old me was good at the other subjects.

Problem solved in 2 terms. I now have very good spelling relative to my peers - probably because at 28 I'm one of the only ones to have had explicit phonics instruction!

LittleCandle Mon 06-Nov-17 12:04:19

It might also be scotropic syndrome, which is a form of dyslexia and can be helped with tinted glasses. Certainly, what you describe sounds like DD2 at a similar age. She really struggled and was diagnosed with complex dyslexia needs, including scotropic syndrome.

BrendansDanceShoes Mon 06-Nov-17 14:07:10

I have just posted a very similar response on another dyslexia topic for a 6 year old. However, I am a little disheartened by the amount of dyslexic cynics that seem to have responded here, so I wanted to give you some support as your DD sounds exactly like my DS. He was diagnosed this year at age 10 and a half, in year 5 with mild dyslexia. I had my suspicions from when he was in year 3.
His reading and written english progress just stalled and his spelling and handwriting was a struggle - one of the last to get a pen. Could not tell the time and still struggles with this. For year 3 and 4, teachers said "he's fine, boys don't like reading, boys struggle with handwriting, he'll get it, he's a bright boy" We could just not understand how a kid could use and understand more complex words, yet get in a right muddle if trying to write them or recognise them on a page. His written work did not reflect his ability. We paid for a private Ed Psych report Well, report highlighted poor processing speed and phonic recognition, and a significant discrepancy between this and intelligence. This led to the conclusion of mild dyslexia. It has led to us having to build up his self confidence again, he didn't tell us how his friends all thought he was thick because he wrote slowly in class. He was writing slowly because handwriting is hard and was trying about 4 different ways to write the longer word, then giving up and just writing easier words as he wouldn't get the spelling wrong. An optician has also noticed tracking problems and left eye dominance in a right hander. This makes looking at lots of words on a page more tricky. Most right handers would be right eye dominant.

Basically, he has achieved at expected or above expected levels throughout KS1 and KS2, and has used many compensating strategies - ie smart enough to work out what the word should be in reading a sentence, rather than checking it phonetically. Also verbally very strong in class and has a mind for remembering general knowledge. But telling the time is hard. SATS spelling and grammar paper is interesting as he can do the grammar " I can just tell if it sounds right" but spellings... You have picked a good time to do something now, as school just gets more written and more time pressured, leading up to SATS and beyond. Be prepared going forward to do a lot of help at home, spellings, writing, but make it fun to build the confidence and link it into what they enjoy doing. We are already seeing a vast improvement.

maizieD Mon 06-Nov-17 18:03:19

I am a little disheartened by the amount of dyslexic cynics that seem to have responded here,

Not a 'dyslexia cynic' but someone who is wary of the 'label' being applied indiscriminately to children as if it were an 'illness' (which it isn't) when it would be far better to identify the child's specific problems, name them and treat them appropriately. I've seen too people saying "This child is dyslexic so needs x, y, & z in a kind of 'formula' for treating 'dyslexics.
As this thread proves, the reasons for children to struggle with learning to read and write are diverse and cannot be helped by a blanket treatment for a blanket label. Specific problems should be identified and named.

And BTW, a discrepancy between intelligence and reading attainment is no longer considered to be a sign of 'dyslexia'.

Norestformrz Mon 06-Nov-17 18:16:52

*“*^*Would you also consider, mrz that it might be an indication of a hearing problem?*^*”* I always recommend parents rule out vision or hearing difficulties as a starting point but given the age of the OPs child I’d be surprised if hearing difficulties hasn’t been picked up at home and school. From what the OP says I’d suspect over reliance on visual memory because phonic knowledge isn’t strong.
I’d also suspect that reading is hard work and tiring without effective strategies and as you say tracking difficulties could contribute if the child is relying on whole word memorisation.

“^Scientific evidence does not support the efficacy of eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses for improving the long-term educational performance in these complex pediatric neurocognitive conditions. Diagnostic and treatment approaches that lack scientific evidence of efficacy, including eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses, are not endorsed and should not be recommended.”^

“^Most people with dyslexia have a neurobiological deficit in the processing of the sound structure of language, called a phonemic deficit which exists despite relatively intact overall language abilities. Children with more severe forms of dyslexia may have a second deficit in naming letters, numbers, and pictures, creating a double deficit, or they may have problems with their attention or working memory. Other children may have trouble orienting, recognizing, and remembering letter combinations. This difficulty may be a neuromaturational delay that improves with development. Importantly, the definition of dyslexia does not include reversal of letters or words or mirror reading or writing, which are commonly held misconceptions”^

Norestformrz Mon 06-Nov-17 18:21:45

*“*^*report highlighted poor processing speed and phonic recognition, and a significant discrepancy between this and intelligence.*^^*.*^” I’d be concerned if the discrepancy model is being used for diagnosing Dyslexia as it’s long established that intelligence doesn’t play a part.

FantasticMrMouse Mon 06-Nov-17 19:45:08

Sorry for the slow responses today - I wasn't able to get onto Mumsnet as I was at work.

Thanks to you all for sharing your experiences and knowledge. I am going into the school to discuss this later this week and remain open minded. I will report back on what they say and what (if any) action is suggested.

I just did some reading with her tonight, and she seems to guess the sentences rather than go to the trouble of reading it all, so skips words or adds a few of her own! Could be something, or nothing..

@Norestformrz - Thanks so much for that link. I don't claim to understand it all but it was interesting.

Traalaa Tue 07-Nov-17 10:39:51

I'm no expert, not trained, not a teacher, but it seriously annoys me when reports dismiss things like that. Admittedly this is just personal experience with my son but read this and then I defy anyone to say that tinted glasses aren't needed.

So aged 8, DS couldn't read the white board or read very well at all. He said words/ letters blurred or moved when he tried to fix on them. A standard eye test showed 20:20 vision. A specialised test was done. They found a tint which to his delight made the words/ letters stay still. With the tint, he read 98% of random words against the clock (for a minute) with 100% accuracy. Without the tint, he read just 65% of the same random words, but made lots of errors (skipping whole lines, etc). I was there, saw the test and was mind blown. No wonder my child couldn't read. Now he wears tinted glasses. He needs them, no question!

fwiw, I agree with Maisie. Each child is different and labels/ diagnosis can be wrong headed and no one fix fits all. But labels / diagnosis can help if they're right and can help target a specific need. They're also useful to explain to a child why they might not be able to do things in the same way as their friends. It's all about seeing them as individuals imo.

onewhitewhisker Tue 07-Nov-17 15:09:34

mrz, thanks for the link. what is your view re the cause of dysgraphic problems in dyslexic children? If the evidence suggests that dyslexia is a phonemic deficit does that suggest that dysgraphia is a frequently co-occurring problem but with a separate aetiology?

My DS (10) has a dyslexia and dysgraphia diagnosis. He receives 1-1 phonics support which is definitely helping with his spelling, but he also has significant problems with letter formation, word positioning etc etc which presumably can't be caused by a phonemic deficit....

OP - something that was helpful for us in differentiating between having missed out a stage/using an unhelpful strategy and a more significant problem was whether or not a period of focused support on the issue made any difference. i.e. if you spend a few sessions with your DD encouraging her to slow down, sound out, check her writing etc as mumma suggests is she able to process what you mean and make an improvement? I know with my DS for example that sort of practice at home showed no improvement which seemed to indicate a more severe problem, he has made improvements but they are incremental, over years and with a lot of 1 -1 support.

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