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Letter Reversals: A Sign of Dyslexia or Normal?
Q: My son is six years old and going into the first grade. He is getting "b" and "d" and "m" and "w" mixed up. Is this a sign of dyslexia? What can I do as a parent to ensure the best for his reading skills?
A: You shouldn't worry now about your son having dyslexia. It's very common for young children up to age seven to reverse the letters you mention as well as "p" and "q." They simply don't pay too much attention to the way letters are oriented.
While letter reversal is one of the signs of dyslexia, many more signs of the disorder have to exist for a child to be diagnosed as dyslexic. Any questions you have about dyslexia can probably be answered by visiting the International Dyslexia Association website.
Become concerned about reversals only if your son continues to reverse letters after he has had considerable instruction in the left-to-right direction in both reading and writing. Then, if he is having difficulty learning to read, the possibility of a reading problem should be investigated.
In the meantime, the best way to ensure that your son becomes a good reader is to read to him every night. You should also be listening to him read the stories that he is working on at school. It may make it easier for him to read if you have him draw a finger across the page under each word as he reads it.
Praise is another important component in helping young children learn to read. When your child reads to you, find something good to say about his efforts. And try to keep reading fun so he will enjoy reading to you.
To keep on top of how well your son is learning to read in first grade, keep in close touch with his teacher. Then, any problems can be resolved before they become serious.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.