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Is It Time to Check for Dyslexia?

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: My seven-year-old daughter displays signs of dyslexia. She still writes some of her numbers and letters backwards. I've talked to her teacher about having her checked to see if she is in fact dyslexic. Her reading seems to be affected by this same affliction. She is retaking the first grade (which disappointed her), but is leaps and bounds in the positive direction as far as accepting her fate. My question is: When is it a good time or right time to consult a specialist about her possible dyslexia?

A: I would recommend having your daughter evaluated at this time, given that she is repeating the first grade. Generally, repeating a grade can be helpful if maturity seems to be the main issue; however, if there are learning problems and those learning problems are not addressed, then repeating a grade will not actually solve the problem. It is not unusual for children to still write some of their numbers and letters backwards at this age, so that by itself is not necessarily a problem.

Children who have dyslexia may have difficulties learning to read. However, there are many educational techniques which work quite well for dyslexic children. Thus, it is important to find this out as soon as possible. It is also possible that she does not have dyslexia, but has another type of learning disability. And whatever the disability is, the earlier it is addressed, the better.

All children in the United States are entitled to special educational services if they have any special needs, and if you request to have her evaluated, the school department will do it. It may be that after evaluation, she, in fact, does not have any type of learning disability and will do fine in school this year.

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Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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