* Early concerns

Early identification of disabilities is huge.  The sooner a child can receive specialized instruction, the better their chances for academic success.  Here’s a situation I’m facing, disguised a bit because of confidentiality.  Perhaps this scenario might help you decide whether your child deserves a closer look at their developmental needs.

I have been in contact with an adorable kindergarten girl we’ll call Stacey.  After spending some time with Stacey in an informal setting, I am concerned that she may have both a reading and language disability.  The other concern is whether she is on the autism spectrum.  Here are the red flags:

  • She cannot rhyme and becomes anxious when asked to play rhyming games.
  • She does not notice any significant features of printed words, such as beginning or ending letters.
  • Stacey primarily uses noises, gestures, and actions instead of verbal communication.  She also repeats phrases almost endlessly if she has received any positive feedback from a peer or adult.
  • She makes unusual grammatical errors and has difficulty copying any corrections in both speech and grammar.  She is especially weak in changing the ending sounds of words.
  • Stacey is very rule-oriented and repeats these rules to peers and herself.
  • Stacey strongly prefers repetitive activities and is unwilling to try new patterns of interacting with materials or games.
  • She told me that kids call her a “brat” at school.
  • She has a strong family history of dyslexia and autism.

There are mitigating factors.  She has grown up with an autistic brother in a bilingual environment.  Family trauma is another issue, which can cause children to regress in many areas.  And at times, Stacey is able to communicate effectively.

Next steps for Stacey: An informal reading evaluation to rule out unusual phonological weaknesses and to determine that she is learning the alphabetic code as appropriate for her age.  I will also see if she can sequence some picture cards and describe those events and will collect an informal language sample for future comparison.

red flags