Proceed with caution... it's a little wordy.
So I had made this huge discovery... one of my kids has dyslexia.
Never one to sit around when it comes to this kind of thing with my children, (speech, bullying, health, and the like), I got right to work. I was really eager to learn as much as I could and figure out what to do with it all.
It is funny though, I have since researched and learned a lot... yet when I have shared with people, I sometimes get responses like "You diagnosed it yourself? Hmmm" in a disbelieving way. So be prepared for that. It's akin to "Oh, you homeschool your kids?" all over again. Only doubly so. But hold strong! You're just ahead of the game on this, I think it'll get its spotlight soon enough. It affects 20% of people! Dyslexia is just patiently waiting its turn behind gluten right now, ha ha.
I asked my son before writing about this publicly, and he is good with it. When I figured it out, I was so ecstatic, he really has no clue it is anything someone might feel badly about. I intend to keep it that way for him! People with dyslexia are almost always strongly gifted in another right-brained area, and have amazing IQs. For him, he's gifted with construction/engineering/spatial reasoning. (The Lego creations that come out of his room area all starting to make sense!) A few days ago I heard Keston lamenting "I want to be dyslexia too... I want a special gift." I corrected her verb useage and told her she was indeed special. :)
When you are a homeschool parent, it can be frustrating to feel like whatever you are doing isn't really working or sticking. I got really frustrated because Jenson was having trouble just repeating some words back to me (metamorphic and sedimentary, for the record). Talking louder and slower wasn't helping, go figure. While I really regret now that I got angry at him about it, it was what lead to me thinking maybe there was something more going on. The next day I had my answer, and due apologies were given.
Side note: Jenson was in public school until third grade, and was in a writing class with a credentialed teacher last year. If he were in public school, it wouldn't have been picked up any earlier. I truly don't place blame on anyone, but it isn't being diagnosed in public school as far as I can see, so even if your child is in school, don't let that stop you from looking into it if you have suspicion. My son was in 'literacy support' for over two years, where you might have thought it would be picked up. Sometimes it just doesn't become clear until around age 10 or so anyway, as kids are able to continue making progress until around then.
As a parent, you can diagnose your child, you do not need a formal diagnosis! I did talk with several professionals, including a doctor of child behavior psychology and several teachers, to make sure I was on the right track. They all backed me. A formal diagnosis might be needed in some instances, but in our case, nope.
How I went about diagnosing:
We happen to have duplicate copies of many books around here, because I often follow along with Jenson as he reads in order to help him with words. One day recently, I grabbed a pencil and wrote out in my copy every mistake he was making, so I could later look at it more closely. At that point dyslexia hadn't even crossed my mind. I thought dyslexia meant that people just transposed letters. For whatever reason, I had a hunch to begin some research. I compared samples of his writings, and notes from the book I had penciled in. It was like a light bulb went off. No wonder so many things were difficult for him, yet he is so advanced and amazing in other areas!
Keep in mind I am in no way an expert, take it for what it's worth and do your own research if you see any of these symptoms in your own child. (But as I said before, after asking professionals, I strongly feel the source of my information is accurate and credible.) There are roughly 35-40 different symtpoms, and to have dyslexia you only need to possess three of those symptoms. Jenson had well over 15.
Here's an abbreviated symptoms list, taken from the Bright Solutions website and also paraphrased from me:
- Speech delay as a toddler, even if they went on to speak fine, but started after age 2 in speaking.
- Stuttering or speech difficulties (I didn't find any specific info. about articulation disorder, not sure about that one)
- Slow to learn to read or overall reading difficulty
- Poor spelling, even with lots of help and practice. They may do fine on weekly tests because they learn to memorize the words, but then they do not translate this into their writing later. For example, on a spelling test, they'll write "could" perfectly fine, but in a story they will write "cold" or some other variation.
- Many other spelling related symptoms, including transposing letters, but that isn't the only one, and even if they don't transpose, other symptoms could be present.
- Dominant hand not chosen early, or may be able to write with right hand and cut with left or vice versa (like me!) or kicks with opposite of dominant hand, etc.
- Extremely gifted in a right brained area such as sports, building, mechanics, art, music, etc.
- They read better with books that have larger fonts. Tiny fonts and crammed sentences pose extra difficulty. Italics are the worst!
- Trouble remembering punctuation and capitalization, even though you've reminded them hourly! (I paraphrased that one especially!)
- Disregard for margins on the paper, may space things weird when writing.
- When copying from a white board, they need to look up a hundred times to write one or two sentences, and still it may come out wrong.
- They are very bright, you know they are smart.
- Dsylexia is hereditary. Any poor spellers in your family that instantly come to mind?
- Lack of confidence and possible self-esteem issues.
- Good at math but much difficulty with word problems and/or memorizing times tables
- Confusion of left/right, it's not an automatic.
There are many more symptoms, these are just a few. If any sound familiar, you may want to check out the link at the bottom of this post or do your own research. It is well explained and worth your time if you even just barely suspect your child may have dyslexia after looking over the lists. And what was very helpful for me was giving him that challenging book*, and discreetly writing down all the mistakes he made, as well as going over his wiritng samples. It couldn't have been any clearer to me!
I hope this will help someone, and I plan to share more about the tips and tricks, and the method I use to teach him from here on out. I certainly do not view it as a "disability", just something that needs addressed differently in how I teach him. I have confidence he will succeed at anything he wants to do in life! (Because his right brain is 10% bigger, ha ha!)
*For Jenson, a 'challenging book' doesn't necessarily mean a higher RL, but longer sentences, finer print, and longer words, such as in Harry Potter. His favorite Beverly Clearly books are in the same RL range, but have nice large font. It made a big difference in his case. You might try comparing different books for your sample.
The video I mentioned, well worth the time investment: HERE.
A list of symptoms: HERE. (Jenson has dysgraphia too, which will make more sense once you understand this list. They often go together.)