Early Intervention

  • Can 'dyslexia' be diagnosed early?
  • Should I wait?
  • Is early intervention possible?
  • Is it a good idea?
  • What can I do?

If you have a young child that has just started school but is already showing signs of struggling with reading you are probably asking the kinds of questions shown above.

It is helpful to first know that, BY DEFINITION, a formal 'diagnosis' of 'dyslexia' is not actually possible for children much younger than 8 years.

Why is this?

BY DEFINITION, 'dyslexia' is a SIGNIFICANT problem with reading that is not consistent with their general ability and is not due to other factors.

Why does this exclude young children?

... because, BY DEFINITION, you can not determine if there is a SIGNIFICANT problem until they have experienced SIGNIFICANT failure and are SIGNIFICANTLY behind their peers ... and that can not be said to have happened until they have had a couple of years of schooling and fallen a couple of years behind.

But what if my child is having a lot of problems NOW?

That may be, and that is definitely reason for concern, but it can't be formally 'proven' until they have had that failure time and amount.

Does that mean I just have to let my child fail?

Absolutely not! The first few years of learning are critical to build a base for later success ... once that base is lost or crumbly everything becomes an uphill battle! All best educational practice, as well as all best parental love and care says that you should try to intervene and help as soon as you can. But ... you can't go chasing down the path of a 'formal diagnosis' at this early stage, you have to try something else ... something called 'early intervention'.

'Early intervention' is getting in and trying to help early; it is not trying to "stick a label on" early.

So ... Yes, definitely, do something! try something! Give them extra intensive help with reading. Visit an optometrist to make sure they are seeing things properly. Have an audiology check if you suspect they might not be hearing properly.

And ... what we very definitely recommend: have a check to see if Irlen Syndrome is a "piece of the puzzle".

We can generally test students as young as 5 or 6, as long as they can count (have one-to-one correspondence). Testing is usually modified to suit the age and ability of the child, and we sometimes recommend splitting the full diagnostic testing over two sessions. However, we can almost always help to pick up potential difficulties and give advice to help with early intervention.

And ... definitely DO try to do it while they are young, as soon as you suspect there is a problem. If you can get in early and correct problems while they are young you will save them those critical two years of possible failure.