Not all students who come to me are suspected to have dyslexia or they do not have a formal diagnosis of dyslexia. The past two years have not helped the situation. For many, it is hard to discern if the child simply needs to fill some gaps and get extra support because of all the lost learning over the pandemic, or if something more significant is at play. Many parents had the opportunity to get really familiar with their child's learning habits and see a clearer picture of missing skills over the pandemic - but what is "normal" and what is "something else?"
One of the tricky things for figuring out if your child is a "normal" amount of behind for parents is, we rarely have a collection of similar-aged children to compare our own child with. Not that we want to get into comparing kids, but if the only 2nd grade writing samples we see are from our own child, especially if that child is our oldest, then it isn't always clear where our child is at compared to peers. If you have not listened to multiple third graders read aloud, you may not recognize that your child is struggling with things that other children their age have typically mastered.
In Canada, only a registered or school-based psychologist can diagnose dyslexia. A diagnosis is often necessary to get students support at school. A diagnosis can ensure the child has access to assistive technology, extra time on tests, or other accommodations that will help them to learn with their peers. A diagnosis does not, however, typically change the best course of action for remediation: intensive, explicit, structured reading instruction.
It does not take a psychologist to see warning signs of dyslexia. Some of the signs you can look for in Elementary school include:
difficulty with letter and number reversals past first and second grade
inaccurate, slow, stilted reading (including skipping suffixes or small words, guessing words based on the shape, unable to sound out unfamiliar words, reading a word correctly on one page then incorrectly on the next)
poor spelling, including poor invented spelling (even if you sounded out the word they wrote, it would still not make sense)
unable to remember high-frequency, (common) words in reading or spelling
difficulty memorizing things, not necessarily related to reading
struggles to find the right word when speaking
seems to be overly messy/disorganized
It is important to remember that having one or two of these "symptoms" can be normal. Children with dyslexia will have many of these symptoms (and this is not an exhaustive list!)
If you suspect you or your child has dyslexia, Susan Barton of Bright Solutions for Dyslexia has a great video explaining the Classic Warning Signs to look for. It is a great site for lots of information and resources on dyslexia! Susan Barton is the founder and creator of the Barton Reading and Spelling program, which is what I use with many of my students. This curriculum is accessible and easy enough for a parent to use on their own, but if that isn't the solution for you, please feel free to contact me about how I can help.