Children with dyslexia can be diagnosed and treated in first grade. In fact, current research suggests that children can be identified as at risk before they begin learning how to read. This should not be news to anyone. Dyslexia is the most common language learning difference that challenge elementary schools, and in many ways it is the most treatable.
Why, then, do we continue to meet with parents whose children in third grade, fifth grade, and even seventh grade are not functionally reading. They are not able to read connected text automatically for meaning. Unbelievable. I am not exaggerating. Nice kids. Smart kids. Talented kids. But, they are not reading automatically, or fluently.
When parents complain they are told that their children are making progress. This may be true, but if a child is not making a year’s worth of progress in a year’s time the child is losing ground. And, over time, this relatively small problem will become much much larger. I have never met a person with dyslexia who could not learn to read, but for some of them, it is a struggle. If a reputable phonics-based reading program is used over time with a trained professional, a child will learn to read.
A short interview with the child and parents can help guide a parent as to whether the child should be evaluated. Ask the person if they like to read. Most people who struggle with reading do not enjoy it. Ask a parent if they remember having difficulty in school, or even, as an adult, do they like to read. Dyslexia is hereditary, however people from previous generations might not have been evaluated and might be unaware of their learning difference.