Screening for developmental dyslexia / dysorthography

by Céline de Brito, MOA Speech therapist Research and clinical results have shown that many people with dyslexia have had subtle oral difficulties in preschool. Well […]

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by Céline de Brito, MOA
Speech Therapist

Research and clinical results have shown that many people with dyslexia have had subtle speaking difficulties in preschool. Although we cannot predict with certainty that a person will develop dyslexia, here are some difficulties noted around the age of five in these people.

  • Working memory difficulties (memory that allows you to keep information while you are working on something). For example, to perform 3 × 4 + 10, the person must calculate the 3 × 4, then memorize the +10 in order to find the correct answer. Concretely, a preschool child with a working memory problem will only remember part of the instructions and may have difficulty producing four or five syllable words.
  • Difficulties in phonological awareness (playing with sounds, rhymes…). Children who have difficulty manipulating syllables and sounds for play are at high risk for reading impairment. Rhymes (rabbit and fir end the same), inversions (ex: tonmou if we reverse the syllables it is the word sheep) and transformations (flow, hen, mussel, roll, ball ...) are all activities that develop working memory and which help the child to realize that reading is partly related to what we hear.
  • Difficulties of lexical access (search for his words). A person who frequently uses imprecise words such as "thing, business, trick, patent ..." is at high risk of having a reading disability. Indeed, if these people cannot quickly find verbal information stored in their memory, it will be the same for visual information such as a letter, a syllable or a word.
  • Phonological difficulties (pronunciation): People with even mild articulation difficulties are at risk of having a reading disability, as this can mean that their speech sound system is not organized properly. On the other hand, some children do not have language (system) difficulties and simply cannot produce sounds for reasons of motor skills or bodily mobility. This is why the speech therapist's opinion is important and he will be able to guide you for language difficulties or if it is also necessary to refer to an audiologist (hearing), an occupational therapist (motor skills) or an osteopath (mobility). All the same, here are examples of sound transformations that can remain around five years of age and that must be kept in mind especially if the child can produce them in repetition (therefore language problem and not motor skills or mobility):
    • the famous sounds "ch, j": ex: the child pronounces a sat for cat, a zoue for cheek)
    • omission of syllables in long words eg rhinoceros, library, computer ...
    • groups of consonants with r ex: akraper (to catch), krésor (for treasure)

In conclusion, if you notice some of these symptoms in children, it does not necessarily mean that they will have a reading disability. So don't be alarmed, but you know what they say: prevention is better than cure. Thus, a discussion with the speech therapist or the school orthopedagogue could be beneficial for these children. Also, don't hesitate to ask the family about their family history, because dyslexia is genetic and if a family member, even a distant one, is dyslexic, the child will be even more at risk.


Find many resources
and educational material for this purpose on the site
of Bri-Bri games | Educational material designed by speech therapists.

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