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Catching Reading Delays Earlier in Kids

At a recent symposium hosted by Payne Education Center, titled Reading Instruction Matters, one of the speakers raised this important question: Why are we waiting until kids are in 3rd grade to identify specific reading delays?

 That speaker was Michelle Keiper, a teacher turned advocate after her own son had difficulty learning to read in elementary school. She founded Decoding Dyslexia OK to provide resources and support for students, parents, and educators on issues related to dyslexia.

If the NIH (National Institutes of Health) says dyslexia can be diagnosed by age 5 1/2, why are we waiting so long to identify?” she said. “Third grade is too late.” She said identifying dyslexia and other specific learning disorders earlier could prevent many children from falling through the cracks with regard to reading.

With dyslexia, the brain processes language differently, making it challenging to make the sight and sound connections necessary for reading and spelling. Signs of dyslexia include delayed speech, trouble rhyming, lack of a dominant hand, and confusion with left to right.

Approximately 17% of children are affected by dyslexia. Without targeted instruction, 50% of these students will not graduate high school and likely have fewer options for later employment. Some estimate that 50% of prison inmates exhibit signs of dyslexia and had unaddressed learning difficulties when in school.

Yet many classroom teachers were not taught how to identify and instruct students with dyslexia.

Specific, explicit, multisensory instruction is essential,” said Heather Johnson, Executive Director of Payne Education Center. Payne offers trainings on evidence-based strategies on these topics.

Reading is currency today. So we owe it to all kids to help them learn how to read,” said Johnson.

For a diagnosis of dyslexia, children should be evaluated by an educational psychologist or other trained diagnostician. Payne has a list of testing resources on their site.

Payne’s motto is that “no child should struggle to read.” They offer teacher professional development in classroom and therapy reading instruction. They also offer a 4-hour volunteer tutor training called Reading Instruction 101 that can be a beneficial tool for community volunteers and parents. To see a full listing of their trainings, visit their training calendar.