The Importance of Early Screening for Dyslexia

According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia affects approximately 1 in 10 individuals. If the symptoms of dyslexia are left undiagnosed, they can lead to difficulties with word recognition, reading fluency, spelling, and writing, and even problems with spoken language and self-image.

The early identification of dyslexia is essential to a student’s success in school and in life. Providing students with early dyslexia screening tests can help educators identify at-risk students early on, determine their specific instructional needs, and provide dyslexia interventions in the classroom that keep students’ skill deficits from becoming significant achievement gaps and they get older and progress through the grade levels.

Watch this on-demand webinar for more information about the importance of early screening for dyslexia. Also learn strategies for coping with dyslexia, learning strategies for dyslexic students and teaching strategies for students with dyslexia. Click here to watch the full webinar about the importance of early screening for dyslexia.

Early Identification of Dyslexia

Early screening for dyslexia is so important that many states have passed, or are in the process of passing, legislation that makes it a requirement in public districts and schools. In addition to discussing the reasons why early identification of dyslexia is important, this webinar walks through some of the specific attributes required for effective dyslexia screening. These attributes include: phoneme awareness tasks, direct measures of decoding and word recognition, and timed tests for letter naming or letter-sound associations and oral reading fluency.

Strategies for Copying with Dyslexia

The social and emotional consequences of dyslexia can have a lasting impact on students. The webinar describes some of those consequences, including frustration, fear, anxiety, learned and chronic helplessness, avoidance behaviors and misbehaviors, difficulty expressing themselves, and feelings of inadequacy. The webinar emphasizes the importance for educators to take steps to not only mitigate dyslexia, but also manage emotional health when teaching students with dyslexia to avoid these outcomes. Part of this management includes being able to accurately label or name what students with dyslexia are experiencing.

Learning Strategies for Dyslexic Students

With the right instruction and intervention, dyslexic students can be successful in mainstream classrooms. Watch the webinar to learn the importance of helping students build a repertoire of effective coping strategies and study strategies and develop skills such as resilience, flexibility and self-advocacy.

You also will learn what it looks like when students have mastered strategies for coping with dyslexia. These students display the following traits: self-awareness as well as the ability to describe their disability, utilize resources to help themselves, form connections with mentors, maximize their individual strengths, and strive to be lifelong learners.

Teaching Students with Dyslexia

When you have students with dyslexia in the classroom, teaching requires a specific skillset. This webinar outlines the specific characteristics dyslexic students require from instruction so that you can incorporate those into your own practices, and covers the specific supports and accommodations for students with dyslexia that must be offered to provide dyslexia interventions in the classroom and help students meet learning goals. Effective dyslexia instruction is explicit, systematic, cumulative, sequential, incremental, data-driven, and includes multi-sensory learning.

Dyslexia is not a life sentence for low performance. When identified with an early dyslexia screening test, and when students has access to educators who understand their disability and know what needs to be done to support their learning, they have the ability to be successful students.

Watch the full webinar for more about the importance of early screening for dyslexia and strategies for understanding and supporting students who are diagnosed.

Video Transcript

Louisa Moats: Screening for dyslexia is imperative, and most states now, all but the eight I mentioned or referred to, not by name, are including guidelines for dyslexia screening, and what do those screenings involve? They involve timed tests of letter naming, or letter sound associations of direct measurement of phoneme awareness that gets at phoneme segmentation and blending in kindergarten, and then as students get older, if they’re having problems from second grade on, I personally see evidence in the work of David Kilpatrick and others that we need to screen for advanced phonological awareness, advanced phonemic awareness skills in older students because those skills underlie the acquisition of a sight vocabulary, and the acquisition of spelling vocabulary as time goes on.

Louisa Moats: They we need to directly measure decoding and word recognition, and oral reading fluency using a timed test of passage reading with norms, that is a grade level passage that is equated to a certain level of difficulty in curriculum based measurement, and we need measure both rate and accuracy once a student can read. The social and emotional consequences of dyslexia in some cases are severe. Managing a student’s emotional health is extremely important, and of course prevention of failure in the first place, and accurate labeling of what’s going on are critical pieces of maintaining emotional health in a child who’s very frustrated and wondering what in the heck’s going on with them, and we want to identify early to avoid the syndrome of chronic and learned helplessness, and avoidance, and feelings of inadequacy. This goes back to using the D word, one reason to do it is that it’s a big relief to students to have a name for the problems they are experiencing. It sounds a little bit more definite than a word level reading problem, which is what researchers often call it.

Louisa Moats: We want successful students, even if we can’t make the dyslexia go away, and it won’t, it will affect students through their schooling in the main. We want to give students, while we’re remediating the problem, a repertoire of affective coping strategies, study skill strategies, and reinforce independent use of those strategies as students get older. We want to encourage resilience, and thinking positive about the good things that are happening, the things that are possible.

Louisa Moats: We want to encourage flexibility, we want to encourage self advocacy, be able to talk about what dyslexia is and what’s going. Information about it is very empowering for students.

Dale Webster: To summarize, effective instruction contains all these components, explicit, systematic, cumulative, sequential, incremental, and data driven. I’m just gonna review these briefly, ’cause we’re bumping up against our one o’clock end time.

Dale Webster: We don’t want to leave anything to chance with students, we want to make sure we’re clearly explaining all the concepts, especially the ones that are gonna cause a lot of confusion. Our instruction is systematic, and the lessons follow familiar teacher led routines. Having clear and consistent instructional routines allow students to focus on the new concept that’s being taught, and doesn’t leave them wondering what the teacher wants them to do next. They’re consistent, they happen over time, and it doesn’t leave any confusing questions in the student’s mind.

Dale Webster: Cumulative, I mentioned earlier that it’s very important, and good programs are gonna have cumulative review built in, so that’s not up to the teacher to have to figure out “What should I be reviewing?” The program’s gonna give them some guidance in that regard.

Dale Webster: The instruction is sequential and incremental following a planned scope and sequence, and progresses in measurable, manageable steps.

Dale Webster: Lastly, it’s data driven. Progress monitoring assessments are used frequently, our tier three students that are in the need of most critical intervention, they need to be progress monitored once per week. Our tier two students who are more strategic, they need to be progress monitored at least once a month, but many recommend biweekly. Then our students who are at benchmark and above, those not in intervention, they need to have at least two or three times a year of benchmarking. Curriculum based measurements that are usually part of any good intervention or tier one program really focus on the monitoring the progress of the learning for that particular sequence of lessons.

Dale Webster: To conclude here, successful instruction includes multisensory learning where children are using all their senses to learn the concepts of language, and … I’m trying to go to the next slide, and I’m not having success doing that.

Dale Webster: There we go, thank you.

Dale Webster: Lastly, regarding reading and writing tasks for older students, the importance of teaching cognitive strategy such as deciding what the goal of a task is, monitoring whether they’re accomplishing the goal, knowing when they do and don’t understand, and having an approach for tackling complex tasks is going to be important. That concludes my portion on instruction. I’m gonna turn this back over to Louisa now so she can say some final words.

Louisa Moats: Thank you, Dale, that was a great overview of what needs to be done. Even though we have this high proportion of kids who are correctly described as having symptoms of dyslexia, as many as let’s say between 10 and 15%, most of these students can be successful in life, and those who are successful have learned about themselves, they often have the right way of describing what is going on with them. They understand that when they have a reading problem, it’s not symptomatic of generally low ability, or lack of potential. These are students who can use resources to help themselves, who can connect with a mentor and role models, and who are continuing to learn as they go and maximizing their individual strengths.

Louisa Moats: It’s not a life sentence for low performance by any means, especially if the student is surrounded by people who understand the nature of their problem and what can be done to help out.

Louisa Moats: Putting it all together, we want to emphasize how important it is to use really good screening tools to identify students as early as possible, to use explicit and systematic instruction in the regular classroom that has all of the key components of the essential components of instruction that Dale described. We want to monitor progress and intervene proactively if kids aren’t progressing by changing something for the better. We want to be sure that programming for our students is comprehensive.