Early Warning Signs of Dyslexia and its Practical Interventions

Currey Ingram

One of the most common learning difficulties is dyslexia, which can cause problems with reading, writing, and spelling. Unlike a learning disability, dyslexia does not affect a child’s intelligence. 

There are misconceptions about dyslexia. It has been said that dyslexia is caused by vision problems; the truth is, it is a hereditary learning difficulty. A child with a dyslexic parent has a higher probability of being dyslexic as well. Another misconception is that dyslexia can be outgrown. While there is no “cure” for dyslexia, early intervention and proper science-based instruction are crucial in helping dyslexic students become fluent and skilled readers. 

Be on the lookout for these early warning signs of dyslexia so intervention can take place as soon as possible.

Early signs of dyslexia

Children find it difficult to articulate what’s on their mind. Observe how they speak; it might take a few moments before they could express something, even if the concept is familiar to them. It might seem like a normal interaction, but when the pauses happen frequently, it could be a sign that the child is struggling to retrieve information. 

Watch out for subtle nuances. Switching words can be a red flag; a child for example would say “predator” instead of “president.” Moreover, the child has not expressed any interest in books, reading, or being read to; learning language might be overwhelming for them.

Children with dyslexia will confuse pronouns and have difficulty with learning how to rhyme since there’s a disconnect between the words and their sounds. They gravitate towards picture books even when they are in middle school and seldom choose text-heavy books.

They do not have a strong phonological awareness. When they hear a word that does not naturally conform with what they know about language, children with strong phonological awareness would stop and ask themselves, “Did I read that wrong? Did someone spell that wrong?” and try to correct the error. Dyslexic children do not have the natural ability to identify these errors.

Dyslexic students have a hard time with rapid naming tests. Students would usually learn the names of colors, letters, and numbers quickly as soon as they enter school and formal instruction begins. A child struggling with dyslexia cannot easily recall the words when they see a visual stimulus. He or she might be thinking, “I see something red, I know what it is, but I don’t know what to call it.”

Look into their handwriting. Because reading and writing rely on related underlying processes, dyslexia can manifest through the child’s writing as well. Signs include poor spelling, poor legibility, lack of a diverse vocabulary, poor idea development, and/or lack of organization.

Practical strategies that work for students with dyslexia

Keep in mind that students with dyslexia are learning to read, and not reading to learn. They have already developed a negative attitude towards reading and would rather not do it given the chance. It’s thus important to explore and use all teaching modalities possible. Pair a physical book with an audio guide, for example.

Providing structure and routine to the learning process. Knowing what happens next gives them peace of mind. Students with dyslexia lose their sense of security when they are tasked to read a book; they feel that their weaknesses are exposed for all the world to see. 

They also want to understand why things are the way they are (i.e., why a word is spelled a certain way while another word is spelled differently). 

Acknowledge and embrace their strengths. Celebrate triumphs such as a word spelled correctly or a sentence read beautifully. This makes a huge difference.

Encourage reading for pleasure. Let them read what they want to read and at their own pace.

Simultaneous oral spelling is highly recommended. Students hear the adult say the word out loud and then they repeat the word, making sure they have the correct mouth movement. They write the letters, say them out loud, feel the motor movements of their mouth, feel the movement of their hands as they write the letters, and see the word they wrote. They then read the word they wrote. Seeing all the elements come together helps students understand how words are formed.

Use a phonics phone. It’s a simple tube shaped like a telephone receiver, often made from plastic PVC pipe. This allows the students to speak quietly in one end and hear their own voice through the other, helping them identify subtle sounds they might not have heard otherwise.

Enroll them in a school that understands their needs. From the Lower School to the Upper School and Residential Life program, Currey Ingram Academy provides a safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment to students in grades K-12 as they acquire the skills to excel in reading and writing. A private boarding school in Brentwood, Currey Ingram Academy understands that students learn differently; teachers use different evidence-based instructional practices and present material through individualized, structured, and multisensory approaches (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) to best meet the instructional and learning needs of each student. 

Specializing in dyslexia, private boarding school Currey Ingram Academy supports and empowers students with learning differences to achieve their fullest potential – academically and socially – within an environment that fosters holistic student development. Get in touch by calling (615) 507-3173.

Brentwood Private School Takes Fresh Approach To Corrective Action

Currey IngramIf you are a parent struggling to figure out why your child is not responding to your constant pleas for a behavioral change, keep reading. We recently sat down with administrators from Currey Ingram Academy, a private school located in Brentwood, Tennessee, who tell us that reframing a child’s consequences is an effective approach to teaching new behaviors. Keep reading to find out some ways this academic institution helps their students evaluate their own actions.

Q: Good morning, we want you to know we appreciate you taking time out of your day to sit with us.

Currey Ingram: It is absolutely no problem. We are happy to talk with you.

Q: We wanted to reach out to you about discipline. Many parents today struggle with how to show their children – particularly teenagers – that their actions are not acceptable. One of our readers mentioned that they have seen a huge change in their 16-year-old since enrolling them in your school. Can we talk about how your staff and teachers approach the issue of behavioral modification?

Currey Ingram: Absolutely. First, it is important to know that we believe young learners respond best to consequences as opposed to discipline. What this means is that undesirable behavior creates an effect they can relate to their original action. For example, if a student is running through the hallways, a possible disciplinarian action would be detention. A consequential action would be that they must practice how to move throughout the hallways.

Q: In other words, they have to be logical and stem directly from the situation?

Currey Ingram: Yes, you could say that. We try to take a three-step approach toward issuing consequences. The first is that they have to be known ahead of time and communicated clearly. The next is that they must be logical and natural, such as in the example above. Finally, we also prioritize reinforcing positive behaviors with positive consequences.

Q: How do you communicate the potential consequences of an action without knowing how a student might react in a particular situation?

Currey Ingram: Since we run a private school, we have a fairly predictable routine. One tactic we can employ is to let students know that we expect their full attention during a lecture, for example. We would tell them before speaking that disruptive behaviors will be met with X consequence from the teacher or staff member in charge. We also have a list of rules that our students are expected to follow, and we look at each student on an individual basis to determine what consequences might be best geared toward their needs and personality.

Q: Why is it important that consequences relate to the infraction?

Currey Ingram: Every action creates a cycle of cause and effect. Humans learn from an early age that if they do one thing that something else happens immediately after. We do not lose this instinct as we age. So now, as teenagers, our students are still learning that everything they do triggers a response. Whether you are in a public or private school, students interacting with each other have consequences. For example, Student A says something hurtful to Student B. As a result, Student B ends their friendship. This is a natural and logical consequence. It makes sense to take the same approach when working toward the goal of behavioral modifications.

Q: You asserted earlier that Currey Ingram also prioritized positive consequences. Tell us a bit about that.

Currey Ingram: Because we are a private school, we have the authority and ability to offer numerous positive outcomes in response to desired behaviors. In other words, when we see a student doing something they should do, we want them to know that we recognize their good behavior.

Q: Give us some examples of a positive reinforcement strategy.

Currey Ingram: For younger students, we might offer stickers or small toys as a tangible reward. Older students may enjoy perks, such as having a few extra minutes of video game time. Our private school campus in Brentwood also offers a boarding option, so many of our high school scholars are with us around the clock, which gives our staff an opportunity to further reinforce positive behaviors outside of school hours. All of our students – and most children in general – respond well to social rewards, which might include praise or recognition.

Q: How do you help your students learn to recognize their own positive behaviors?

Currey Ingram: That is a great question. One way we do this is by being very mindful of how we phrase verbal recognition. Instead of simply saying, “You did good work today!” we might say, “You worked very hard on your project, you must be very proud of yourself!” 

Q: So you are reframing the praise?

Currey Ingram: Absolutely. Similarly, by reframing consequences as more of a learning experience than a disciplinary action, we hope to get through to our students in a way that will be lasting and impactful.

Q: That is very interesting. Before we close, can you tell our readers a bit about your program?

Currey Ingram: Currey Ingram Academy is a private school located in Brentwood, just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Our educational facility caters to students with learning differences, such as ADHD and dyslexia. We take a comprehensive approach to helping to develop appropriate and responsible behaviors both inside and outside of the classroom. We know that each one of our students has the potential to achieve more than they give themselves credit for. By illustrating cause and effect for all behaviors, we believe that we can help these students by empowering them to take control of their actions before they happen. To learn more about Currey Ingram and how this private boarding school can help your child, visit https://www.curreyingram.org today.