How do I know if my daughter’s problems with reading are due to a developmental lag or if there’s a learning disability?
How do I know if my daughter’s problems with reading are due to a developmental lag or if there’s a learning disability? Will the school (that just implemented RTI in the early grades) test her for dyslexia? She’s 7 years old.
Great question…and an important one to ask sooner than later! Children “develop” at their own pace and even with rich and varied opportunities to increase vocabulary and acquire and practice thinking and organizational skills, it is difficult to predict which children will experience learning challenges once they enter school. Any “lag” in development is best addressed with specific criteria in mind. For example: what are the specific reading-related tasks that appear to be barriers to success? Is it recognizing common (sight) words, sounding out new words, blending letter sounds, understanding word meanings (with and without context cues)? Your daughter’s teacher should be able to shed light on your concerns from screening data (the hallmark of an effective RTI program) that is readily available for the entire classroom (based on the reading curriculum) and based on efforts to address your daughter’s specific challenges in the area of reading. Will the school test her for a learning disability in reading (also known as dyslexia)? Sure… and you can request that an evaluation be conducted at any time. (See NCLD’s parents Guide to IDEA at www.LD.org for an easy-to-understand breakdown of your rights and how to work in partnership with school personnel.) But don’t rush into testing! Sometimes a tweak in classroom instruction or a consultation with specialized staff at the school will be enough to set your daughter on a path to success.
Early intervention is so important. If a child is identified with a learning disability at a young age, the intervention can be implemented immediately therefore giving your child the skills they will need to succeed sooner rather than later. Research the warning signs and symptoms of dyslexia and look to see if your child shows any of these signs. At 7 years old - the warning signs of dyslexia are usually: issues with speech and language, letters and sounds not "clicking", poor phonemic awareness, relies heavily on memorizing and not decoding skills.