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Can anyone tell me what lies behind this sort of learning problem please?

(14 Posts)
SalVolatile Wed 18-Feb-09 21:51:24

DC4 aged 6 is a lively little girl with very stretchy ligaments and some degree of hyper mobility, which means that physically she lags behind her peers, and has a rigid handwriting stance which looks uncomfortable. I am self referring to an OT to see if there is stuff we can do to help her physically catch up. However, I am puzzled by this: she reads confidently at age 7.9 on assessment, is very articulate indeed and has an extensive vocab. Academically she appears to have no problems, other than that her teacher and DH and I have become concerned that she has no idea how to spell. She can learn words on a list by rote more easily than most in her class, but cannot write and spell to anything approaching her apparent ability. She simply cannot hear 'sounds' in words and relies on memory alone to help her. A friend who is a trained special needs teacher assessed her for me yesterday and said that she has a specific learning difficulty which is that she does not know her letter sounds or how to segment words. This is despite her previous school teaching synthetic phonics (I'm not sure if exclusively or not blush). Please can anyone tell me why would this happen? How has she managed to miss something more or less completely out of her learning and surely she wouldn't be reading well if this were the case? I don't understand what is going on - can anyone advise me please?

LynetteScavo Wed 18-Feb-09 21:53:26

Has she learnt to read by recoginsing whole words?

SalVolatile Wed 18-Feb-09 22:01:45

Well now you ask, I don't know! I thought she was sounding out but obviously not......

LynetteScavo Thu 19-Feb-09 08:01:47

I'm no specialist - but I think different people learn to read differently.

DS1 learned by reconing whole words - DS2 by sounding them out phoetically.

Usually people who learn to read by recognising whole words are better spellers.

SalVolatile Thu 19-Feb-09 20:48:35

bump for any other ideas?

SalVolatile Thu 19-Feb-09 20:51:12

By the way, I really do mean she cannot spell - she will have a go, but most words are random nonsense, only sometimes does she have more or less the right letters but transposed, and in dual syllable words has almost always excluded one or other of the sounds. This really is a problem, not just a case of a 6 year old with a few missspellings!

cornsilk Thu 19-Feb-09 20:52:34

Did your friend give you a written assessment? Can you ask her to explain more? Specific learning difficulties occur in spite of normal teaching methods.

morningsun Thu 19-Feb-09 23:36:26

my ds1 could not hear sounds easily,could not break words down,and learned to read by memorising whole words.
Also a word like "here" he seemed to find v hard and especially couldn't seem to tell the vowels apart,no matter how many times it was explained.
With spelling,he could not spell and has also over the years memorised the words whole,but with new words can't attempt them iyswim but becos he's very bright with an excellent memory has muddled thru in his own way.
I can't tell you what it is tho as i don't know,altho he was tested for dyslexia in yr1 they didn't retest and i thought they would pick it up if it was significant.
Its cropped up agan now in that hes doing a levels in eng and hist but his essays are not a fair reflection on his ability and i am thinking of a dyslexia test maybe.His teacher thinks hes extremely clever and its difficult to know why he cant achieve his potential
will watch this thread!

wasuup3000 Fri 20-Feb-09 17:01:33

It does sound like she has a severe specific learning difficulty. Even if she can read well I wouldn't rule dyslexia out and even if she was taught synthetic phonics she may have visual perception or short and long term memory difficulties. Maybe worth gettng her hearing double checked if she is not hearing "sounds" in words as well. Have you had any assessments by the school educational psychologist at all?

SalVolatile Fri 20-Feb-09 22:26:56

She is due to see the school SENCO after half term. She has a really phenomenal memory, honestly, and this is partly why we are so amazed that this problem has shown up. Her mental recall is the strongest of my 4 children by far, and dc2 is academically gifted and a scholar at his school. dc1 and dc3 are bright averages smile. Her hearing is oversensitive in that she is very disturbed by certain sounds, and she is very musical, so I hadn't considered hearing loss, although I would relate that to not hearing initial sounds, for example, which she certainly has a problem with in multi syllable words. What is visual perception and how would that manifest itself, please?

wasuup3000 Fri 20-Feb-09 23:55:29

The main reasons for reading problems are:

1. Ineffective reading instruction
2. Auditory perception difficulties
3. Visual perception difficulties
4. Language processing difficulties

My daughter year 5 is a level 5 in most areas (level 5 is an average year 7 level)apart from numeracy which she is still on a level 2. She cannot retain number information amongst other issues and may possibly have dyscalculia. It is possible to be really bright in other areas but to have a specific learning difficulty.

LintFree Sat 21-Feb-09 00:28:07

Sal, Your daughter sounds like mine in some ways. She too has great reading, comprehension and vocabulary but poor spelling, writing and number skills. We have had her assessed by an Educational Psychologist at age 6 (expensive but worth it) and she was found to be moderately dyslexic. In the lead up to this we too had her assessed by an OT and she is mildly dyspraxic. Apparently it is common to find this range of conditions together.

She now aged 8 has a dyslexia tutor who has explained that she has compensated for her dyslexia by memorising whole words and is reading to a level 5 years above her chronological age. And yet presented with an alphabet she struggles to sound out the letters.

My daughter too has problems hearing but not through a hearing loss more a lack of ability to screen out other noises, especially the noise of a classroom environment. I suspect my daughter has Auditory Processing Disorder (someone else has posted in this forum on this topic if you search for it). This is not a hearing loss but a difficulty interpreting what you hear. Might be a useful lead for you too ?

Don't expect too much of the OT. In my borough they only accept the worst cases who cannot feed or dress themselves as they do not have funding for more. When I pointed out that my daughter found it difficult to hold a pencil and was reversing the letters in her own name their best suggestion was a pencil grip that came with elastic. I'm sure they meant well !

I do suggest that you get her tested by an Ed Psych for dyslexia. This can take some time for the school to put in place for lots of reasons. We got fed up with waiting and paid privately. The going rate seems to be £300 to £500 (eek). We went with the recommendation of another parent. Once we knew what the issue was we felt much more positive about focussing our help and the knowledge has also helped to preserve our daughters confidence.

Sorry it's a long one but hope it helps in some small way.

SalVolatile Sun 22-Feb-09 21:01:43

Lintfree - thank you smile, that sounds just like dd! As she is hypermobile I think she may be dyspraxic as well - hence the visit to the OT.

AJ2008 Thu 26-Feb-09 15:13:31

Sal, this sounds similar to my own daughter who like Lintfree's daughter has Auditory Processing Disorder and it is me that has been posting in the Forum about it.

1 in 10 children have it and many are undiagnosed.

I have written an article about what I have learned and our experience. There's also links to other websites that have info about APD.

You can find my article HERE

Good luck and I hope you get a diagnosis.

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