+ Central Ohio: Early Screenings for Reading Problems

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COBIDA, the Central Ohio Branch of the International Dyslexia Association, is sponsoring free early literacy screenings for kindergarten children.

The first screening session was held on Saturday April 30, 2011.  Professional tutors who specialize in reading intervention for children with dyslexia performed the screenings and were available for consultation.

The screenings do not diagnose dyslexia, but do look at factors that may indicate if the child is at risk for dyslexia. 

According to pediatric neuropsychiatrist Andrew Colvin, a COBIDA board member,

Researchers have shown that you can identify the markers for dyslexia at an early age, even as early as kindergarten.  Children who are at risk for dyslexia do not often ‘play’ with language — they show problems with rhyming and other phonics-based skills.  There are tests that can be used to measure a child’s mastery of these skills. 

Once identified, children with dyslexia can be steered towards intensive, systematic, multi-sensory instruction methods, such as the Orton-Gillingham approach, which can help build the child’s skills and make them a successful reader.

Because reading is language based, early identification is extremely important.  Colvin says learning to read is like learning any new language; the earlier in life a child starts, the more effective the learning will be.

In addition, poor readers tend to fall far behind in the amount of reading they do, which compounds quickly when children move from simple “learning to read” tasks to reading chapter books and, finally, later to reading for information.

This progression happens in the early grades; by third grade students are asked to engage in “reading to learn.”  (For example, “What did Johnny Appleseed do?” or  “If  Sam has three cards and gives his friend two, how many cards does he have now?”)

There is also the frustration factor, warns Colvin. 

Children who struggle with reading lose their self-confidence and begin feeling “dumb” which may have serious consequences for emotional and  behavioral health — a major cause of school drop-outs in later grades.  

Marianne La Rosa is a Language and Literacy Specialist and a COBIDA board member.  She confirms that since we do have the tools to identify and treat dyslexia early, before a child experiences frustration, anxiety and failure, there is no reason to “wait and see” if a parent is concerned. 

Children who are identified with dyslexia early and receive appropriate intervention have much better outcomes.

 Kara Lee, who is a 5th grade Intervention Specialist in the Marysville Schools (and a recent addition to COBIDA’s board) has said

One of my biggest challenges is helping students to ‘unlearn’ some of the bad reading habits they have developed, such as guessing at words or relying too heavily on picture cues.   When dyslexic students are systematically and explicitly taught the structure of our language, I find that they can start to unlock many more words without having to guess. 

By identifying these students earlier than 5th grade, we can teach them this structure from the beginning and therefore practically eliminate the need for remedial instruction later.

It should be noted that not all children who struggle with reading have dyslexia.  But for those that do, early identification and appropriate intervention is critical.

For more information on early screenings and scheduled screening sessions, visit the COBIDA website at http://www.cobida.org or phone 614-899-5711.  Marburn Academy also does screenings for reading skills.  Call them at 614-433-0822.

sole source: the summer 2011 issue of the COBIDA Newsletter.

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021  or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com



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