Dyslexia

So… Last week we had a meeting with my son’s teacher and she told us she wants to have him assessed for visual issues, including dyslexia.

There’s a significant gulf between his verbal and written skills. And by ‘significant’ I mean, significant. I guess that’s a good thing since it means that if he is dyslexic at least we’ll have discovered it when he’s little, and we’ll be able to help him.

I don’t know if he is dyslexic (and I won’t until we see the optometrist at the end of April). He is — and I know this sounds unbearably arrogant — highly¬† intelligent. He has an ability to grasp new and complex ideas, process them and ask intelligent questions very quickly. He has never struggled to understand what people say to him. He is much smarter than I was at his age.

Still, he does not read unless he’s made to, and his writing is very untidy.

Whenever I look up the pattern of his reading, I get pages suggesting he is showing signs of dyslexia. So, for example, he confuses b and d (but I remember doing the same), he can read long words (today, without hesitation, he read ‘eyesight’, ‘permanent’, and ‘parasitic’) but stumbles on the shorter ones (he sometimes reverses ‘was’, he struggled with ‘they’ and ‘find’) and when he’s tired, he’ll guess the ends of words. He depends heavily on context when he can, and on guesses. He tires quickly when he’s reading and if anyone else is around who will read, he gets them to do it so he doesn’t have to.

According to The Internet, these are all signs of dyslexia.

It’s not that I would dare to doubt it, but I remember using several of these strategies myself as I learned to read and no one ever suggested that I was dyslexic. In fact I’ve been tested (for research) and I am not.

Maybe he is. I hope he’s not. I am depressed that there are no alternative explanations. I can’t help feel that — dyslexic or not — there are things he will read. Non-fiction about leaf-cutter ants, for example, which he’ll read reasonably enthusiastically (not exactly spontaneously but without too much yelling), stuff about trapdoor spiders.

Update: This is what I mean. This morning he read a little from his insects book about the White-lined sphinx moth (he picked the bit he wanted to read). It was in fairly small writing and in italics so he struggled a little with some of the words. Here’s the passage, with the words he struggled with underlined. I do not understand what’s going on:

“The white-lined sphinx moth visits flowers at night to feed. Like most moths, it has antennae that are extremely sensitive to smell as well as touch. It can pick up the faintest scents, which helps it to find flowers in the darkness.”

So I get that “most” isn’t what you expect (it’s one of the ‘tricky’ words he’s supposed to have learned), and I understand that you have to know that the c in ‘scent’ is soft. He stumbled on ‘it’, though, and at least one other very short connecting word (I can’t remember which), but read ‘antennae’ and ‘extremely sensitive’ without any hesitation at all.

Part of it is context (when I asked him, he said, “I know moths have antennae.”) but is it that he’s not seeing the shorter words (=dyslexia/ visual problems?) or he’s not bothering with them?

Often when he starts reading he struggles a bit, and then it’s like he warms up and things get much more fluent and easy.

His brother isn’t really reading yet so I have no point of comparison. Is this normal or is there something odd going on?

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