When it comes to dyslexia, an accurate diagnosis can be a critical first step for many students to begin receiving appropriate interventions. In his article “Why Is It So Difficult to Diagnose Dyslexia and How Can We Do It Better?” Richard K. Wagner, PhD. (Florida State University and Florida Center for Reading Research), suggests that a hybrid model for testing that accounts for multiple facets of reading development can give evaluators a more complete picture of a child and make diagnosing dyslexia more reliable than a single factor model. 

With an accurate diagnosis, children can get the intervention they need. A delay in diagnosis and intervention can lead to loss of critical intervention time for students who are already behind in their reading development. 

For more on Dr. Wagner’s research, check out his article here: https://dyslexiaida.org/why-is-it-so-difficult-to-diagnose-dyslexia-and-how-can-we-do-it-better/


Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com

Becky Welsch’s certifications include the CEERI Tier I Qualification Exam (aligned with the International Dyslexia Association’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading). She has completed the Associate Level Training through the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Professionals and Educators for one-on-one instruction with students using the Orton-Gillingham methodology. 

Becky has a Master’s Degree in K-8 Education She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has specialist endorsements in the areas of Reading and Structured English Immersion. 

Becky began teaching in the Arizona public school system in 2007. She worked in both primary and secondary grade levels as a reading intervention teacher and teacher mentor. Becky has training in Spaulding Phonics, DIBELS Next, The 95% Group, and other whole group, small group, and one-on-one intervention programs. 

In 2014, she took the leap into using teletherapy to deliver one-on-one Structured Literacy tutoring. She has accumulated hundreds of hours working 1:1 with students via teletherapy. 

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As parents, we are our child’s number one advocate and are often the first to notice when they are having issues. This is particularly true in the area of reading development. Often parents may begin to notice warning signs in their children as early as preschool, yet they are often told by teachers and educational specialist to wait and see. Yet, as I have stated before, this approach is ineffective for the majority of kids with reading difficulties. Early identification means early intervention which leads to better outcomes and remediation for your child. 

However, many parents are not literacy experts and don’t always know what to look for when it comes to red flags for a reading difficulty. In fact, some of you might be wondering what to look for in a preschool student because, well, most three-year-olds are not reading so how can they have a reading difficulty? 

I understand your frustration and I want you to be able to effectively advocate for and make decisions about your child. So, I put together a list of some warning signs of dyslexia at various ages. It is very important to note a few things though. First and foremost, many of us may have one or two of these characteristics that does not mean that we all have dyslexia. Usually a child with a significant reading issue like dyslexia will have multiple characteristics that persist over time and make learning difficult. It is also important to note that this list is not exhaustive and if you are concerned about your child, it is important to get them Structured Literacy intervention to help remediate their difficulties. 

With that being said, here are a few common characteristics of dyslexia in preschool and kindergarten aged children:

  • Late learning to talk and slow to learn new words – if your child was a late talker without an apparent hearing difficulty, this can be an early sign of dyslexia as oral and written language are related.
  • Difficulty following directions – if you ask your child to perform directions that are age appropriate and they have difficulty remembering what to do, this can be an early sign of dyslexia. Of course, I think all preschool parents can relate here, it can also just be a sign of being three. However, if you know that your child is not being willfully defiant, it can be a warning sign of language processing issues. 
  • Avoids letters despite being explicitly taught them –  if you have worked on the alphabet with your five-year-old daily yet they only know two letter names, this is a sign that they are at risk for reading difficulties. 
  • Difficulty rhyming – by age 4 or 5, children should be able to identify and produce rhyming words, if they cannot they may have a reading issue like dyslexia. 
  • Cannot recall letter sounds – if your child is in kindergarten and does not know letter sounds it can be red flag for reading issues. 

As your child gets older, these signs generally persist and are compounded by some of these in grades 1st through 3rd :

  • Cannot recall sight words even after practice
  • Poor phonics skills 
  • Inaccurate and slow reading
  • Difficulty sequencing – this applies to sequencing events in a story as well as days, months, time, etc. In some cases, your child may even have difficulty with words like before or after saying things like they brushed their teeth “after” they went to bed. 
  • Poor spelling skills – this is an especially important indicator if they eliminate speech sounds. For example, if the word is bend and they write bed, it suggests they do not have the phonological skills necessary to be successful without structured literacy intervention. Make sure to pay attention to this on writing assignments, not just spelling tests. Many dyslexic children can fool their teachers and parents because they have good visual memory skills so they can memorize spelling words. 

As children move into intermediate grades 4th and then into high school, many of these problems will persist and there will be additional signs like: 

  • Slow , inaccurate, and laborious reading – at this point your child is working so hard to decode words that reading fluency is seriously affected. 
  • Weak reading comprehension when compared to listening and oral comprehension 
  • Poor spelling skills and handwriting in written assignments 
  • Slow at working on literacy skills – homework will often take hours and lead to frustration 
  • Poor comprehension and vocabulary due to lack of access to grade level text
  • Needs intensive intervention to increase reading and spelling skills 

It is important to note that in many cases these reading, writing, and language issues exist despite being part of a strong instruction program or being read to by a parent. I have often heard “but my son is in a good school” or “I read to her every night.” Dyslexia and other reading difficulties develop without regard to exposure to literacy. 

If you have concerns about your child, start getting them the help and support they need to be successful. You are their number one fan and the person they need in their corner. 

Contact us today if you have questions  or need more information.

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.
Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. 

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Up until about ten years ago, there was a prevailing theory in reading instruction that some children simply took longer to mature. If they were having reading difficulties, time would somehow fix them, and they would eventually catch up. In short, these children were seen as being “late bloomers.” Teachers would tell parents to wait and see and early intervention for reading was delayed under the assumption that these students simply needed more time to catch up to their peers. 

This was known as the developmental lag theory and was the prevailing ideology for nearly 30 years. It was also the justification for waiting to intervene in reading until the difficulties were quite severe. However, as our understanding of reading instruction has grown, this theory has been disproven by the evidence. 

New research indicates that early intervention with an appropriate Structured Literacy program is crucial to closing the reading gap. This new theory, known as skill deficit, indicates that waiting does not work and that children will not pick up literacy skills without explicit instruction. The old approach of wait and see is actively harmful to struggling readers as it causes them to fall further behind instead of addressing their reading issues. 

The research behind skill deficit theory is substantial and indicates that students who struggle with reading need early intervention as it makes their reading success significantly more likely. In fact, 90% of students who struggle with reading difficulties will achieve grade level reading outcomes if they receive reading intervention by the first grade. However, if intervention is delayed to age 9 or later, 75% of these students will continue to struggle throughout their school career. Furthermore, if students get reading intervention in the fourth grade as compared to the end of kindergarten, it will take them nearly four times longer to make the same amount of skill gains. 

So, what does this mean for parents and teachers? Well, quite simply put, it means that late bloomers are not going to bloom without some help. Children who struggle with early literacy skills have the best chance of catching up if they are given appropriate Structured Literacy intervention. The earlier they can start, the better their outcomes. 

Students who do not receive appropriate early reading intervention can seem to be stuck in a sort of downward spiral, but it does not have to be this way. While it is clear that we cannot “wait and see” to improve reading, there are methods of intervention that are supported by the most recent reading research. 

If your child struggles with reading, it is critical that they get the help they need. However, not all reading intervention is created equal and if you want to close the gap, you need to make sure their intervention is appropriate. Teaching something the same way repeatedly will not cause them to magically “get it.”

At risk readers need explicit, systematic instruction. They need an OG based program like our online tutoring program that emphasizes phonological awareness skills like rhyming, phoneme segmentation, blending, and substitution. They need explicit and systematic phonics instruction as well as direct instruction in vocabulary and word meanings. A quality program will also include direct and explicit instruction in morphemes and include significant practice time. A fluency component will also need to be directly taught so that children learn to read quickly and accurately. Comprehension also needs to be included and specific. 

With appropriate and early intervention, children who struggle with reading can and do catch up to their grade level peers. As a parent, we want our children to experience success and an effective reading program is one of the best ways we can ensure they learn to read.

After reading this, if you have an older child, you may feel disheartened. Don’t. While early intervention is more effective, you can still intervene with older students. The process may be slower, and it may require a more intensive schedule, but it is possible. 

If you are looking for an effective program for your child, regardless of their age, our online tutoring may be the right fit. Our trained reading clinicians work with your child one-on-one using research-based techniques. With the right help, your child can succeed. 

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.
Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. 

Sources:

https://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/fall-2004/avoiding-devastating-downward-spiral

https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/reading-disorder-or-developmental-lag/

https://www.readingrockets.org/article/waiting-rarely-works-late-bloomers-usually-just-wilt

Resources for Choosing an Intervention Program: 

https://rwc4reading.com/wp-content/presentations/Online%20Reading%20Program%20Evaluation%20Checklist.pdf

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story starfish2

Studies have shown that children are interacting with the online world at young ages. Between social media and online gaming, we are all bombarded with increased technology. This is often viewed as a negative. However, there are ways to use technology to our advantage. From our state of the art online tutoring program to educational games, conscientious media use can be used as a tool to help our children learn.

dyslexic word artIt is a fact of the modern world, media and screens are everywhere. From iPads to cell phones to computers to video game systems, we are bombarded with digital media. We can get news and information faster than ever before. This is true for us as adults and for our children.

There is no denying it, children are accessing more media, more often, and more quickly than ever before. In fact, a new report shows that children as young as infants have access to personal media devices. The average American child spends about two hours in front of a personal screen. This is in addition to about 48 minutes spent watching TV.

While there are numerous studies about the negatives effects of screen time, this blog is not going to delve into those. The reality is that screens are a part of life. In fact, as I sit here writing this blog my son is reading a story on his iPad and my daughter is watching a video of other kids playing with toys (side note, what is it with those videos and why didn’t I think of them?).

What I am going to focus on is how we as parents can use the screen to our advantage as tools to help develop and foster learning. Not everything on the internet is education (as evidenced by the toy unboxing videos) and some of it can be dangerous. It is our job to make sure that our children interact with high-quality media that will enhance their learning as often as is possible. And of course, we have to make sure to keep them safe.

mosaic flowers1With that said, let’s look at some ways that technology use at home can help enhance critical thinking and literacy development. Keep in mind while you are reading that I am not a doctor and anything I recommend is based on my personal opinions, not expert advice.

  1. Online tutoring The program we have developed at RW&C uses technology and media to help students with reading difficulties. We use video conferencing software to provide one on one, real-time tutoring. We also offer a multitude of practice activities hosted on our website to help you practice at home.

This is a great use of technology for parents who live in remote areas or don’t have time to commute to a reading tutor. Our program is effective and helps save time. You don’t have to spend hours stuck in traffic or juggle your daughter’s dance class with your other child’s tutoring sessions. We work around your schedule. This is one way that technology can help enhance your child’s learning.

  1. Educational apps. There are a ton of apps that can help reinforce various skills and help your child practice. In fact, we even use a game based web program as part of our online tutoring practice. This can be a great way to get kids engaged and interacting with learning content as part of their screen time.

If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to education apps, check out this helpful list of literacy apps put together by the International Dyslexia Associate. Just remember, an app is a great way to reinforce skills, but if your child struggles with reading, you will need to make sure that these skills have been explicitly taught.

When you sign up for our online tutoring program, our reading clinicians assess your child and design their online learning games to specifically reinforce concepts that they have been working on. This can help take some of the guesswork out of it for you and make sure that the time your child spends on screen is valuable learning time.

  1. Audiobooks. Audiobooks are a great tool for both struggling and proficient readers. It allows children to access content that is above their reading level. This helps improve their vocabulary and their listening comprehension.

mosaic-books-to-ideasIf your child struggles with reading, this is something you need to take advantage of. Since many struggling readers cannot read at grade level, they are not able to access grade-level content. This leads to gaps in vocabulary knowledge. Audio books are one way to help bridge these gaps and ensure that your child has access to grade level (or above vocabulary).

There are many audiobook apps for both Apple and Android devices. Your local library may even offer access to free audio content.

  1. Online dictionary and thesaurus references. These can help children spell words, define unknown words, come up with synonyms to enhance their writing and more. They are valuable literary resources for students.

While this is far from an exhaustive list of all the ways that technology can help enhance literary learning and reading intervention, it hopefully gives you some ideas on how to make your child’s screen time more educational.

However, keep in mind, that if your child struggles with reading and is not making adequate progress, an app or an audiobook is not going to be the magic cure. They need Structured Literacy Intervention which has been research proven to help remediate reading difficulties. One way to access that is with our online tutoring program. Contact us today if you need more information.

And now, it’s time for me to go tell my children that they need to put down their iPads and play outside. Wish me luck…

Becky Welsch

RW&C, LLC

www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. 
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.

 

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