Figuring out the symptoms of dyslexia in your child can be a challenge. I’d say it’s never clear-cut.
I read a mom’s desperate plea for help across the Internet through www.netmums.com –something’s not quite right, could it be dyslexia or could it be something else? I knew exactly how she felt, having been there myself. Actually, to be honest I wasn’t even at that place. I was just asking myself: “What on earth is going on?”
We see these little things that don’t seem quite right – when she reads “for” as “of” for the millionth time, but then correctly reads the word “fortunate.” When she writes “brithday” instead of “birthday” even though the two words “Happy Birthday” are printed in the card immediately above where she is writing. When he can’t seem to remember that 3×4=12 even though he has recited the 3 times table for weeks on end. When he does subtraction instead of addition even though the “+” symbol is right there next to the math problem. When you feel such a hopeless mother because he still can’t tie his shoelaces. When the teacher at school looks at you coldly and says you are not reading enough with your child at home. Perhaps all of these or some of these things sound familiar.
What makes it even more difficult to figure out is if your child’s teachers do not raise any red flags. After being told at school that my child did not read enough, I made the effort to do more reading with her at home, I got a teacher to tutor her and work with her on reading, and she had extra reading help at school during vacations. No one mentioned the word “dyslexia.”
After struggling through first grade, second grade and into third grade, at 8 years old my daughter’s poor reading was the subject of discussion again. This time I asked the teacher one simple question: “Why can’t she read?” I enquired. “I have no idea,” the teacher replied. That was the turning point. I decided to find out myself. Thus began the journey of discovery into the world of dyslexia. The diagnosis was the sweetest relief I have ever known.
I forgot my husband’s name. Well, he wasn’t my husband at the time, but he was soon to be. We had just met and I introduced him to my friend by the wrong name. “This is Chris,” I said. “Actually,” he said, “my name’s Colin.” Awkward! But he did ask me to marry him two months later.
All my life I’ve thought I was just a really bad listener. When someone tells me his or her name, I seem to forget it almost immediately. I’ve tried really hard to listen and concentrate, and even repeat their name out loud after they’ve told me, but a couple of minutes later I’ve no recollection of their name. Even worse is having to introduce a group of people, especially people I have known for a long time, as I have a hard time remembering their names. Panic sets in as I struggle to retrieve from my memory the names of my best friends.
Living in the United States exacerbates the problem! I’ve noticed that Americans, when they meet you in passing, are very good at saying “Hello ____________ (fill in the blank with your name). It just rolls off their tongue so easily. I can only splutter back an embarrassed “Hello, err…” There’s nothing there! My mind is blank! If I had a bit more time I could probably come up with their name. But by then, they’ve passed me and gone.
Following another trip to the Gabrieli Lab for child number three to take part in the reading assessment, I wonder if my inability to remember names is a symptom of dyslexia that I never knew I had? I hesitate in writing this because if my children read this then I know they will be blaming my gene pool!
At the Gabrieli Lab, it was my turn to complete a questionnaire about my own reading ability, family history and… capacity to remember numbers, names and addresses. Well, it was quite revealing! I had to circle the highest score, that signified “most difficult”, to the questions on my ability to remember phone numbers, names and addresses. I also had to admit that my spelling wasn’t that great. Perhaps, after all these years of stressing over my incompetence to do these things, I do have a valid excuse. Spell checkers are a great way to overcome poor spelling, but finding a strategy to overcome poor recollection of names is a different matter.