SUMMER 2019 The Summer of Torah, Hesed, and Charity

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By: Sari Cohen M.s. Sp. Ed W.d.p

          No one wants to seem like an alarmist and put their child through intense reading evaluations if the evaluations are not necessary. Evaluations are expensive and can be time consuming. But if we choose not to be proactive and do not get our child evaluated, and the child does turn out to be dyslexic, we cannot get those lost years back. Early intervention and treatment can help provide faster and more positive results for a child’s reading ability, and can impact positively on his or her self-esteem.

                 A child who cannot break the phonetic code will miss a lot of reading that is crucial to building fluency and vocabulary. The child will fall further behind in achieving comprehension skills as well. Thankfully, this can all be prevented. Joseph Torgesen, a reading researcher at Florida State University, advocates identifying children with dyslexia early on. He states, “Once a child falls behind in the growth of critical word reading skills, it may require very intensive interventions to bring them back up to adequate levels of reading accuracy, and reading fluency may be even more difficult to restore because of the large amount of reading practice that is lost by children each month and year that they remain poor readers.”

         Most parents delay evaluating their children because they think their child has a temporary problem that they will outgrow. This oftentimes is not true. What seems tolerable for a third grader will turn into something much more serious as the child enters the higher grades and when he or she becomes a young adult. Thankfully, parents can take an active role. According to Sally Shaywitz, M.D., Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Learning and Attention, the following are signs or clues to identify dyslexia in early childhood:

Preschool Years:

  1. Trouble learning common nursery rhymes, for example “Humpty Dumpty” or “Jack and Jill.”
  2. Difficulty in learning (and remembering) names of letters.
  3. Failure to know the letters in his own name.

Kindergarten and First Grade:

  1. Inability[U1] to learn to associate letters with sounds, such as being unable to connect the letter b with the “b” sound.
  2. Failure to understand that words can come apart, for example, batboy can be pulled apart into bat and boy, and, later on that the word bat can be broken down still further and sounded out as: “b” “aaaa” “t.”
  3. Reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters, for example, the word big is read as goat.
  4. The inability to read common one-syllable words or to sound out even the simplest of words, like mat, cat, hop, nap.
  5. A history of reading problems in parents and siblings.

Second Grade and On:

  1. Very slow progress in acquiring reading skills.
  2. The lack of strategy to read new words.
  3. Trouble reading unfamiliar words that must be sounded out.
  4. The inability to read small functional words like that, an, in.
  5. A strong fear of reading out loud.
  6. Unrecognizable spelling, with words not resembling their true spelling.
  7. Omitting parts of words while reading.
  8. Stumbling while reading multisyllabic words, or the failure to come close to sounding out the full word.
  9. Mispronunciation of long, unfamiliar, or complicated words. Leaving out parts or confusing the order of the parts of words, for example aluminum becomes amulium.
  10. The need for extra time to come up with an oral response when asked a question.
  11. Difficulty in remembering isolated pieces of verbal information (rote memory). Trouble remembering dates, names, and telephone numbers.

       Parents do not need to worry about signs that appear very rarely. For a parent to be worried, the symptoms must be persistent. Anyone can mispronounce a word now and then. But if the pattern is persistent over a long period of time it is important to voice your concerns to a teacher or to have your child evaluated.

        Identifying the problem is the key to getting help. The sooner you have the child evaluated and get a diagnosis, the quicker the child can get helpful intervention. A parent is the child’s best advocate. If you see a problem, take action so that your child will not fall even more behind. The earlier you start intervention the faster your child will progress and catch up with his or her peers.

     Sari Cohen has a Masters in Special Education. She is a Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner currently working at Barkai Yeshivah. She is currently trained in the Orton Gillingham Approach to teaching literacy, and is receiving her certification. She is also a P3 provider. She can be contacted at

 [U1]Please justify to be consistent with other numbers.