5 1/2 year old not recognizing letters
by rnugent, Mar 07, 2009
Our son will be 6 in may and still does not recognize his letters.  he has been in 2 years of pre k.  he is extremely bright. he excels in problem solving, imagination and has good motor skills.  We have daily been working with him using different modes. One day he will get a lot of his letters and a day later, or week later it is as if he has never seen them before.  My husband and 24 year old daughter has dyslexia but our son is different than them.  His eyes have been checked out twice. He is discouraged as we are.  He was taught chess once and remembered how to set up the board the second time. He can hear something and recognize the movie or activity very quickly.  He has a great recall of events and can nearly quote books back.  He has been seeing a speech therapist for minor problems and has taken a long time deciding which hand to use.  He only uses his right hand to write but any other activity he may use either.    
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Member Comments (10)
by Encephalomalcia, Mar 09, 2009
there is a game that is like candy land, but it has the alphabet instead.  The game lasts for hours, but the kids keep focusing on the letters.  Board games really help children learn.  They are fun without the pressure.  Sometimes kids freeze up when they feel pressure to learn.  
by Sally44, Mar 09, 2009
As there can be different types of dyslexia, I wouldn't rule that out.  What makes you think that it isn't dyslexia?  You say he appears to learn and then forget information.  Is it possible that at the time he is learning something he is rote learning it (in the same way that he can remember his reading book ie. he is using his brilliant memory and not actually learning the letters/words).  My son is exactly the same.  He gets a reading book and after the first reading he has remembered it.  He also knows all the words and moves in a film after he has seen it once.  I can point to words on the page and he can tell me what they say.  But the next day if I show him/write the same word and ask him what it says he has no idea.  
Does your son ever repeat things he has heard on TV or in films?
Another thing I found was that if there were four word flashcards on the table and I asked him to "point to the word that says the", he could do that.  But if I had just pointed to the word and asked him "what does it say" he had no idea.
In the end I had private reports carried out by a Speech and Language Therapist and an Educational Psychologist, because I couldn't get the same professionals through his school to do further testing.
I found that my son has Auditory Processing Disorder, working memory and auditory memory retrieval difficulties.  That was why he appeared to learn and then forgot because it was rote learnt and stored in short term memory and not in long term memory.  Also the auditory processing difficulties meant that he was storing incorrect word/letter sounds that was confusing the matter even more.  He also has difficulties with receptive language.  He was diagnosed with Semantic Pragmatic Speech Disorder.  
You can also google Irlen Syndrome to see if that might be a possibility.  Otherwise you need the SALT and EP to do further testing to find the root cause of the difficulties.
If you do resort to private reports you need to find independent professionals who do not work for the health or education system.  They should have experience of being expert witnesses at educational tribunals.  They need to be independent so that they give you a clear picture of what your sons difficulties are and what level of support they need and by whom.  Professionals from within the health and education services know the level of support they can provide and tend to make recommendations along those lines, which may be well below what your child needs.  A private report will state clearly what he needs.  If that is over and above what the school/health can provide the state has to buy in that extra level of support that the report recommends.  So it is very important to get the evidence of need.
My son is also diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder.  Do you have any other concerns regarding your son's development.  You say he is already seeing a speech therapist.  Do you have no concerns with play and social interaction, or needing routines or getting very emotional etc.
I think a good clue lies in the fact that he has a brilliant short term memory.  This might be an autistic trait or learning style.  So they have a brilliant memory for things and appear to learn things straight away.  But the learnt information doesn't seem to be stored in long term memory.  That might suggest that the 'concept' behind the learnt information has not been actually understood and learnt.  Or it could be problems with generalisation ie. learning things in one environment but not being able to use that same skill or learnt thing in another environment.  That too is an autistic trait.
Also google Executive Function Disorder to see if that sounds relevant.
What are the speech difficulties he is seeing the SALT for?
My son also used both hands as a toddler.  Now he is 8, he tends to use his right hand, but he can still use his left hand for other activities or swop between the two during an activity.  You say he is well co-ordinated.  Is he at the level of his peers.  Can he throw/catch a ball, ride a bike, climb things etc.
My opinion is that he needs assessing to find out exactly where the difficulties are.  Then the SALT and EP can work together to put a programme together eg. working on memory retrieval skills.  The EP should know about an on-going assessment process called Precision Teaching.  This would involve the child learning some words/letters every day for a couple of minutes and they would be the same words/letters.  When he had consistently learnt them all some new words would be introduced, and at regular times older words/letters would be tested again to establish exactly what he is learning and what he is learning and forgetting.  
And if you have any concerns at all I would raise the question an autistic spectrum disorder.  Because it is a spectrum condition it can be very mild, but a child would need to have enough characteristics to get a diagnosis.  Some children just have traits of autism and not enough to get a diagnosis.  
by ashdoes, Mar 09, 2009
My daughter was the same way, she just had no interest in learning her letters. I don't know if you were looking for an answer like this, but i got my daughter the LeapFrog videos, after two weeks of watching the Letter Factory she knew all her letters and the sounds they made. It was an amazing help, and now that she's not wanting to learn her numbers, she's watching the math video from leapfrog.
by rnugent, Mar 09, 2009
thank you for the reply.  My daughter works at a day care while in college and she suggested these.  We purchased them and he has been daily watching for three weeks.  It has helped but not consistently.
by Sally44, Mar 09, 2009
The Educational Psychologist my son first had in school recommended the Leapfrog book system for my son.  But she obviously had no idea of his level of difficulties at that stage because although he was very interested in having a go, he just didn't retain it.  He would use the pen to sound out every letter and word.  
I have come a long way since then.  He has moved school.  I got private reports and we went to an educational tribunal.  And he now gets everything that we had proved he needed in school.
Now he is getting Speech Therapy every day from a teaching assistant who sits on the weekly session he has with the speech therapist and she follows the programme through.  I am seeing alot of improvement with that.  Especially as he has Auditory Processing Disorder and was pronouncing words and letters incorrectly and therefore was storing incorrect information in his memory that was having an effect on his ability to connect what he heard with the written equivalent, and he would retrieve the wrong information from memory.  For example many letters he hears wrong ie. nap for map, apposed for supposed, puter for computer, globes for gloves.  If you cannot hear the different between a 'b' and a 'v' or a 'p' or a 'f', what information are you storing in your memory and is it correct and how will that impact on the ability to learn to read and write?
At his new school, the fact that they do things frequently and are using Precision Teaching is starting to have an effect so that now he can spell out the sounds in words.  But he still cannot blend them to guess what the word might be.  He relies heavily on the first letter of a word.  His memory is brilliant.  He only has to see or hear it once and it is like it is recorded.  Time will tell if he begins to be able to use that phonetic knowledge and apply it to read.  It is very frustrating because he has been assessed as above average intelligence, and yet struggles with all of the ways that people typically demonstrate knowledge, ie difficulties with language, reading, writing, social interaction etc.  
You might also like to look at multi sensory learning, so that letters or numbers can be tied into other sensory information that he can use to help him remember.  An Educational Psychologist should know about this - but really he needs to be assessed so that they know what his particular areas of difficulty are.  For example numbers can be learnt like "silly six stands on his head", and "fat number five".  This just helps give children further clues.
by Sally44, Mar 09, 2009
The other thing I would recommend is using any of his interests as a way of learning.  If he is interested in lego, then buy him the small sets and teach him how to work through the instructions following the numbers etc.  If he is fine with numbers and just struggles with letters/words, then that is even more of an indication of a learning difficulty and needs to be looked into.  
Use anything and everything as a learning opportunity, trips to the shops, reading labels, or menus, looking for his favourite TV programme in the TV guide etc.  As he is 6 now I presume the school have raised their concerns?  In the UK the school has to invite outside professionals into school to assess the child and give them advice.  
by babygirl6152, Mar 09, 2009
the most basic explanation for a child not being able to read is that both sides of the brain have not yet grown together fully- it's more detailed than that- but that gives you a visual to imagine... it helps to do exercises that use both hands, both feet, crossover exercises where the left hand crosses the midline to the right side of the body- also try to skywrite- maybe starting with circles, moving clockwise then counterclockwise- with BOTH hands- it's kinda hard as you will find. any movements using both sides at the same time.

Here is my favorite we used for dyslexia pre reading... making a "rainbow" of the plastic letters abc's _ (all uppercase or all lower case but not mixed)/ name and touch each letter, make sure a-m is done with left hand- then n-z with right hand- mom can say them along with the child over and over or sing the son or whatever- then start pulling them out of order
by kikis_mom, Mar 19, 2010
My child is 5 and after I voiced to her preschool numerous times she did not recognize her letters they assured me she was fine. Yesturday two and a half months before graduation they tell me THEY'RE NOW CONCERNED. She has no problems recognizing ANYTHING ELSE ie. shapes, colors, pictures, numbers 1-10. she is very smart memorizes everything put before her usually the first few attempts. The school nor I HAVE NEVER had any concern other than letters. She does seem to have focusing issues but I have been told they are not different than that of some kids her age. Before I put her in preschool she tested with a local youth services group and when taking the "DENVER" test she always tested right at her age with several catagories testing well above her age level expectancy. PLEASE HELP I don't understand or know what to do.
by specialmom, Mar 19, 2010
Okay mom, take a deep breath.  It's okay.  She is 5 and in preschool.  If you get severely stressed about this, she will sense it and it will impede her progress even more.  What I would do is to start to have fun with learning these letters.  There are many free websites in which you can print off all kinds of letter activities.  Dot to dots that are abc's (rather than numbers), letter coloring pages, phonics sheets are helpful.  Get a fun set of flashcards-----  with just a letter and a picture on it and do flashcards.  Don't get stressed and upset if she misses one.  Say great on the ones she knows and tell her the one's she doesn't and move on to the next card.  We did it while my kids (I have two boys that are 15 months apart) were in the bath together?  I don't know, but that time worked for us.  It was a relaxed time and they thought it was like a game and fun.  Point out letters everywhere.  Go to your local library and get lots of books on letters and read them with her at bedtime.  When you read to her, put your finger under the words and go across the page. Let her look at the pictures too.  Word Factory makes some fun videos/dvd's for kids as does leap frog.  In fact, a leapster is a great gadget in that all the games are educational yet fun.  We use ours only in the car and when we are out at something like a resturant and kids need something to do.  But it is pretty awesome.  There is a cd rom called "reader rabbit" by scholastic which is also really great for letters-------  I think it is "reader rabbit gets ready for kindergarten".  As your child shows no cognative issues elsewhere------  I am guessing she is going to be fine and learning letters at her own pace.  If she has an issue such as dyslexia, it will show when she enters public school and then they will direct you on how to handle that.  But seriously, these are the years to have fun with our kids and learning must be fun too.  I understand the worry about how our kids are progressing academically but your daughter sounds good in many areas.  So, try not to worry and have fun working on it.  good luck