Back to School Series #3: Dyslexia and Clues We Missed

Welcome to the Back to School Sunday Series.

backtoschoolseriesReposting for the new school year.  Some of my most heartfelt posts are the ones written about my son’s diagnosis of dyslexia when he was in kindergarten.  There are so many misconceptions and fears about a suspected dyslexia diagnosis.


I was asked by one reader what signs or clues our son displayed  in preschool?   Looking back, we did see tiny clues.  His preschool teachers also made observations, but nothing concrete and just something “to watch.”  I wonder how many parents just keep “looking” for something they don’t want to find.  To say we were in denial was a bit of an understatement.

Here is a quick list of what we missed or maybe we just thought “he’s our 3rd child.. he will pick it up later.”  When we finally read the book Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D., all of our son’s symptoms were outlined within the first chapter.  I read the chapter through tears, because I was reading about my son.  I was flooded with the prospect of a child who would struggle to read and progress through school.
Here’s some of the signs we missed**:

1. Difficulty in distinguishing between letters, numbers and/ or shapes. For example, while on spring break, we wrote letters in the sand.  Evan would answer with with an incorrect letter, a shape or even a number. (this wasn’t a missed sign as much as an “a-ha” moment).

2.  Our son missed  a lot of school in kindergarten.  He would complain weekly of not feeling well.  And, his symptoms were always vague so we couldn’t clearly diagnose (sore throat, stomach ache).  He often started “feeling sick” on Sunday afternoons.  It breaks my heart to think of  all the children who dread school because of the anxiety with having an {undiagnosed} learning challenge.

3. Evan  yawned a lot during homework or when reading with us at home. Excessive yawning can sometimes be a sign of anxiety. We thought he was just tired.  Cringe.

4. Finally, our son would mix up his nouns, verbs and adjectives in questions or sentences.   Instead of asking his teacher “May I go to the bathroom?” He would ask her, “Go to the bathroom, may I.”  My husband thought maybe he was channeling Yoda {after watching Star Wars during summer break}.  That’s how much we were in denial.  He couldn’t have dyslexia, he’s too smart!  He’s too good at math! Cringe.

Ultimately, our son was evaluated at the University of Colorado- Boulder Speech and Language Department. We were fortunate that the University of Colorado-Boulder was one of three universities chosen by a branch of the NIH for research on increasing the understanding of learning disabilities.  During the evaluation period, we were referred to the book Overcoming Dyslexia.  This book changed the direction and decisions we would make as parents and as a family.  Overcoming Dyslexia provided us with suggestions  to help our son work with his disability and to ultimately strengthen his entire self!  If you suspect your child might have dyslexia, trust your instincts and seek out the resources to diagnose.

**I am not a special ed teacher. I write from a parent’s perspective of our observations, experiences and suggestions with having a child with dyslexia.

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