Friday, July 31, 2009

New test can find dyslexia in a child as young as 3

From KABC-TV in Los Angeles:

LOS ANGELES -- One in five students have dyslexia -- a disability that makes learning, and especially reading, difficult. Most cases aren't diagnosed until 3rd grade or later. By then, their chances of catching up in reading are just 1 in 7. But some educators are tackling the problem before a child even knows how to open a book.

Kennedy Woodward is 6 years old and she devours books.

"Now I can read all the words, but sometimes I need some help because it's a long word," said Kennedy.

But her hunger for reading and writing wasn't always this strong.

"She would start writing some of her letters and her numbers backwards," said Sandy Woodward, Kennedy's mom.

In preschool, Kennedy showed early signs of dyslexia.

"We want to identify children early because this is basically a treatable condition. We want to catch them really before they have a chance to fail," said Laura Bailet, Ph.D., neurocognitive specialist.

Having a parent with dyslexia boosts a child's chances of having it by 30 to 40 percent. Other red flags are: trouble recognizing their names in print, struggling with letter names, sounds and rhyming.

A new test looks for dyslexia in kids as young as 3 years old. If they fail a series of rhyming and letter questions, they're enrolled in a nine week alphabet-intensive program.

"The children who were all below average when they started our educational intervention, almost 70 percent of them, moved to the normal range," said Bailet.

After getting help, Kennedy raised her test score from 40 to 95 percent.

"My belief is if you can be successful in reading you can be successful in anything in life," said Sandy.

Kennedy's taking on childhood one page at a time.

It's a common myth more boys are dyslexic than girls, but one study shows boys are more likely to get noticed because they tend to act out when frustrated.