Letter reversals - when to worry? - ProTeacher Community


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Letter reversals - when to worry?
Old 01-28-2007, 01:54 PM
 
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At what age/grade should we start to worry about letter reversal problems? I teach 2nd and we are exactly midyear. I have a student who still has this problem. He also is a very very poor speller - often leaving out vowels completely and reverses blends (place becomes palce). He'll read that way too and cannot get it unless I cover all the other letters and blend letter by letter. Word attack skills are very poor, but comprehension is pretty good.

Someone posted a good dyslexia site here not too long ago but my computer crashes and wiped out all my saved info. Can anyone tell me what that was?

Thanks all!


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This is the site
Old 01-28-2007, 02:48 PM
 
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As I always say, the videos are long but well worth the time it takes to watch them. They are some of the best lectures on dyslexia that you will ever hear:



http://www.dys-add.com/
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Old 01-28-2007, 03:04 PM
 
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Yes, that is the site! Thanks!
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Letter reversals
Old 01-28-2007, 03:07 PM
 
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are still very common in second grade. I still get quite a few in sixth. This is a developmental thing--some kids never have problems, some do but fix them later; some adults actually still have some trouble with that. It does not, of itself, indicate dyslexia.

His word attack skills may not be great, but if he's comprehending, then he has to be decoding. He has to be. A second grade dyslexic isn't decoding or comprehending anything printed put before them, at least not above a primer level.

Think of dyslexia LAST. Not all reading disabilites are dyslexia, not by a long, long shot, and in second grade, we cannot even say with certainty that this is a disabled reader, let alone a dyslexic student.

Most likely, he'll outgrow this.
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Old 01-28-2007, 03:46 PM
 
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He is mostly comprehending when things are read aloud, not independently.

I am not trying to jump on any dyslexic bandwagon. Perhaps it is another LD; perhaps he is just delayed; perhaps it is nothing. It is just that he is SO SO far behind EVERYONE else in the class that his troubles are glaring. And he knows it, which is a big worry to me. I try not to single him out (as in an ability group all by himself), but yet he really needs the extra help.


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Decoding
Old 01-28-2007, 03:49 PM
 
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Decoding and comprehending are not the same thing. When my son was given the GORT-4, a test commonly given to dyslexics to test reading fluency, he scored a 2% on accuracy and a 45% on comprehension. This is very common with dyslexics. Susan Barton discusses this in the videos on the website above.
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Old 01-28-2007, 03:58 PM
 
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[QUOTE]Decoding and comprehending are not the same thing.QUOTE] Umm.. yeah. That is kinda my problem. He can comprehend (when passage is read aloud) reasonably well, yet cannot decode. In my experience, I've had the opposite problem with students - they can read the words but don't know what they are reading about.
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Not dyslexia
Old 01-28-2007, 04:04 PM
 
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When a child can read the words but not understand, that is not dyslexia. Dyslexia is the opposite, UNLESS the child has CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) comorbidly with the dyslexia. Dyslexics are notorious for not being able to read the word or substituting the word with a similar word yet comprehending what they are reading when reading orally. They use their strong oral comprehension skills to do this. My son's oral comprehension is in the 90th percentile. Still, he cannot hear certain sounds in a word. Middle vowels, for example, give him fits!
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Old 01-28-2007, 07:12 PM
 
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From website www.dys-add.com:
Quote:
Reading:

can read a word on one page, but won't recognize it on the next page.

knows phonics, but can't—or won't—sound out an unknown word.

slow, labored, inaccurate reading of single words in isolation (when there is no story line or pictures to provide clues)
When they misread, they often say a word that has the same first and last letters, and the same shape, such as form-from or trial-trail.

they may insert or leave out letters, such as could-cold or star-stair.

they may say a word that has the same letters, but in a different sequence, such as who-how, lots-lost, saw-was, or girl-grill.


when reading aloud, reads in a slow, choppy cadence (not in smooth phrases), and often ignores punctuation

becomes visibly tired after reading for only a short time

reading comprehension may be low due to spending so much energy trying to figure out the words. Listening comprehension is usually significantly higher than reading comprehension.

directionality confusion shows up when reading and when writing
b-d confusion is a classic warning sign. One points to the left, the other points to the right, and they are left-right confused.

b-p, n-u, or m-w confusion. One points up, the other points down. That's also directionality confusion.

Substitutes similar-looking words, even if it changes the meaning of the sentence, such as sunrise for surprise, house for horse, while for white, wanting for walking

When reading a story or a sentence, substitutes a word that means the same thing but doesn't look at all similar, such as trip for journey, fast for speed, or cry for weep

Misreads, omits, or even adds small function words, such as an, a, from, the, to, were, are, of

Omits or changes suffixes, saying need for needed, talks for talking, or late for lately.

Spelling:

Their spelling is far worse than their reading. They sometimes flunk inventive spelling. They have extreme difficulty with vowel sounds, and often leave them out.

With enormous effort, they may be able to "memorize" Monday's spelling list long enough to pass Friday's spelling test, but they can't spell those very same words two hours later when writing those words in sentences.

Continually misspells high frequency sight words (nonphonetic but very common words) such as they, what, where, does and because—despite extensive practice.

Misspells even when copying something from the board or from a book.

Written work shows signs of spelling uncertainty--numerous erasures, cross outs, etc.
He shows almost all of the reading symptoms, and ALL of the spelling symptoms.
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I realize that you said
Old 01-28-2007, 07:24 PM
 
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you're not jumping on the dyslexic bandwagon, and I think that's good.

The first thing you look for shouldn't be the most serious reading disability he can have. A lot of second graders do many of the things listed here. I'm not saying it's impossible that he's dyslexic; I'm saying that anyone who assumes it, at this point, is being irresponsible. It's like saying that if I have a cough, it's lung cancer. If there's not improvement in the next couple of years, THEN I would think about dyslexia. Certainly not right now. Believe me, lots and lots of kids read far below grade level, and dyslexia is most certainly not their problem, most of the time. Dyslexia is a term that is thrown around with wild abandon. Almost all functionally illiterate adults claim to be dyslexic, because it's face-saving. Almost none of them are.

If his fourth grade teacher says the same thing, he needs to be evaluated by a neurologist to make the diagnosis. ONLY a neurologist can diagnose this. Not me, not you, not lillian.

We all need to be very careful with such very serious terms.
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Spelling
Old 01-28-2007, 07:36 PM
 
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Spelling is a real clue to dyslexia. When a child is dxed by an expert in the dxing of dyslexia, spelling is looked at closely, and the private evaluator asks a lot of questions about spelling and wants to see a lot of writing samples. Since this child has not been remediated, you may see complete nonsense words, if the dyslexia is severe enough (like my son writing "gul" for "gift"). Another common thing to see are words with vowels completely left out (like my son would write "strd" for "started"). Certain sounds will continually be confused in the writing, which you may think is confusion with the alphabet, but it is not. Common confusions include m and n and l and r. The child will write common words incorrectly over and over and over, no matter how many times the child is corrected. My son wrote "waht" instead of "what" for years. You may see lots of letter order confusion, like what you describe above with "place." My son has a terrible time with this, much worse than with reversals. He did some reversals but not a lot. Letters with tails that go below the line still give him difficulties, though. He's not sure what to do with the tail. He still writes his little g and his little p completely above the line, so his little p looks like an uppercase p. Unfortunately, some dyslexics never learn how to spell, even after years of remediation. The younger you start interventions with a dyslexic, the greater chance the child has of learning how to spell.
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Old 01-28-2007, 07:42 PM
 
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I don't know why you feel the way you do about dyslexia. You act like it's a death sentence, and it most certainly is not. With proper remediation, dyslexics can learn to read, write, and spell, though spelling and writing may be much more delayed than those of their peers, depending on the severity of the dyslexia. The sooner you start remediation, the better.
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Old 01-28-2007, 07:44 PM
 
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Fourth grade seems a little late to me.

I think I will have someone who is trained evaluate him. I am certainly not qualified to diagnose, and I am very aware of that. I do not have a dyslexic label on him. I am just researching possibilities, and that happened to be one of them.

One problem for him, is that we are a (highly competative) prep school, and his weaknesses are more obvious than what may be in public school.
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But those same mistakes
Old 01-29-2007, 04:15 AM
 
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are developmentally appropriate along the continuum. I still have sixth graders who write "waht" for "what." for instance. They are not dyslexic. It is completely usual for a beginning writer to leave out vowels, believe it or not. Very, very predictable. And some second graders are behind their peers, and are still making that mistake. But they're not all dyslexics.

Like I said, I respect that your son is dyslexic and I'm glad he has you to help him. I just think you're a little quick to apply the label (and it IS a serious label) to children you don't even know. I've seen you do this a couple of times. Dyslexia is the first thing you seem to jump for.
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Not Really
Old 01-29-2007, 04:53 AM
 
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I'm a certified SPED teacher, who has spent about fifteen years of her life researching learning disabilities, psycho/educational issues, and special education law. Many of the teachers who come here do come here looking for answers to the difficulties they are having with their children in the classroom, and these teachers are wondering if it COULD BE something beyond simple developmental issues. These are caring, thoughtful, intelligent teachers, who want the best for their children. It would be a disservice to these teachers, if I did not mention dyslexia, autism, ADHD, or whatever I am "hearing" here, as a possibility, when the child they are describing meets some of the criteria for one of these disorders. General ed teachers across the country are being left on their own to try and figure out SPED issues, for inclusion and co-teaching are the waves of the future, and many of these teachers do not know anything about SPED and have not been trained. Unfortunately, there aren't many SPED teachers on this board, so there aren't too many people to help them. And from what I am "hearing" on this board, their schools don't seem to be helping them too much, either.

This teacher, for example, posted this message asking for the dyslexia website. What is the harm in her visiting the website? You are the one who came back, telling the teacher to think of dyslexia last. Why?
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Because I have more hours in reading
Old 01-29-2007, 11:55 AM
 
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than almost anyone on this board. I have 18 hours in my undergrad, and 14 graduate hours, INCLUDING dyslexia remediation. It is a FACT that dyslexia is not a common disorder at all, manifesting in about 2% of the population (and that's a generous count). I have worked with thousands and thousands of kids by now, at all levels, many with letter reversals. I've had TWO dyslexics in that time. TWO. I think it is irresponsible to jump right away to dyslexia over letter reversals. I have two sixth graders right now, both reading at a tenth grade level. April can't spell her way out of a glad bag, reverses ds and bs, but is my ablest reader. Dyslexic, she ain't. Chris--same thing, but he reverses js, ss, and p/q. But he's not dyslexic and anyone who suggested it would be wrong. Dyslexics don't read four years above grade level, especially not without help.

As I've said, your son is lucky to have you. I'm sure you know what's best for him. But to suggest a kid whom you've never even set eyes on, let alone TESTED, is dyslexic, isn't responsible. Not all letter reversals indicate dyslexia. In fact, most don't. Letter reversals are very common along the developmental continuum, especially in English, which has several "mirror-image" letters. Mrs. G may well be dealing with a dyslexic. She may well NOT be.

Visit the site, but be aware that they are retailers, and if they have a chance to sell something, they will.
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Old 01-29-2007, 01:03 PM
 
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I have a bachelors in linguistics, specializing in language acquisition. In addition, I have five teaching certificates: ESL, Secondary English, Secondary Reading, Secondary Language Arts, and Special Education. I have an M.A. in counseling, in which I spent endless hours researching learning disabilities. I have worked with students from sixth grade through college, and, though I did teach GT briefly, my major interest has always been working with students whom schools like to call "low-performing" or "at risk" students. These students have included students with IEP's, 504's, ESL modifications, or just "low" and no one knows why. In addition, I adopted an older child with dyslexia. Since adopting him, I have researched dyslexia extensively and attended the International Dyslexia Association's national conferences, listening to endless hours of lectures. Most importantly, I have met parents of children with dyslexia and adults with dyslexia from across the country. The people I have met tell the same story, as all dyslexia research tells, as well--early intervention is the key. The earlier you identify the child and begin interventions, the greater the possibility the child has for academic success.

The only way to know if the child has dyslexia and needs the interventions is to test for it. It is not, in any way, damaging to a child to test the child for dyslexia, but it is very damaging to a dyslexic child to recognize the warning signs, not test, and hope the child grows out of the difficulties the child is having. When you do the latter, the child's interventions do not begin until an age when it becomes increasingly difficult to keep up with school assignments, while staying in general education and not looking "stupid" in front of the child's peers. When you wait too long to test and remediate, the child often has no other choice but to be labeled SPED. When you remediate early, this may not have to happen.

Now, as far as reversals are concerned, where did I say that reversals were clear indicators of dyslexia? I did not. In fact, I said my son only had a few of these. I've seen children do reversals through sixth grade, and that has never stood out as dyslexia to me. Now, if I had a child in sixth who was doing reversals, had an articulation disorder, had terrible handwriting, horrible spelling, and didn't like to read? I'd call the parents in pronto!
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Old 01-29-2007, 07:38 PM
 
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Quote:
It is not, in any way, damaging to a child to test the child for dyslexia, but it is very damaging to a dyslexic child to recognize the warning signs, not test, and hope the child grows out of the difficulties the child is having.
This is my thinking. What can it hurt to check? If it turns out to be nothng - great. I would feel worse if I just sat back and waited until years later and we could have been doing something for him now.
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Old 02-02-2007, 03:58 PM
 
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lillian....I think you are doing some of us a wonderful service by offering a SPED contribution. I am 100% confident in my ability to teach average, and advanced students, but some of my low little guys can leave me mystified. I feel like I'm a great teacher but unfortunatly, not enough of my undergrad did me much good in regards to my struggling students. The SPED teacher in my school is very caught up with "more severe" students than my problem ones, so I get ignored and left to my own devices when it comes to them. I think I've done a good job this year, but it's definitely comforting to know that there are a few people on the board to refer to if I need help! Thanks for lending us your expertise!

And Mrs G, I'm in your boat about it being less damaging to be tested than to guess and hope for the best. I'm filling out paperwork this weekend to get one of my students tested for speech, despite being frowned upon by my SPED teacher because "first graders often have speech problems that they don't need extra service for." I however, am noticing that the speech problem is causing her to suffer in reading and writing now. She writes things how they sound to her, so "th" often becomes "f." Her decoding skills are also suffering because she doesn't understand her own pronunciation of certain words. Gen. Ed. teachers in inclusion classrooms have it rough! Good luck with your situation.
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Old 06-29-2008, 04:49 PM
 
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As a psychologist who assesses children for dyslexia, I strongly suggest that you refer this student to your child study team, as a first step in determining his response to intervention, and possibly moving toward an evaluation. He has all of the characteristics of a student with dyslexia, and really needs intensive individual instruction. Hopefully, your school has a psychologist who you can consult with.
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