Now that school is back in full swing, this has come up frequently. So here is my take. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that letter reversals indicate dyslexia, or vice versa. However, letter reversals are common for young writers, up through age 8, and may happen for a variety of other reasons that may be overlooked. Some of these include:
If your child has difficulty with letter formation, or has a pattern of reversing letters, here are some strategies you can try at home:
Normalize the experience: Kids are wise to be able to reverse a letter and reproduce it in a different direction! Use this, and encourage the child to form it in other variations away from “correct.” This will take away the fear of failure or being “wrong” and “bad,” but also encourage them to visualize the correctly formed letter as they write it incorrectly. Some variations to consider:
Use multi-sensory instruction: The ventral and dorsal visual pathways are important for recognizing the identity of letters/numbers/words and their location in space. Emphasizing motor gestures may help these two pathways coordinate. Using visual, auditory, and kinesthetic sensory channels at the same time can help reinforce proper letter formation and solidify neural networks into “muscle memory.”
Decode and encode: help your child read the letter, then write the letter
Compensatory strategies: write "stories" about commonly reversed letters
meet the blogger
Austen is a pediatric occupational therapist with experience in schools, early intervention, and private clinic settings. She now runs her own private practice in Portland, OR specializing in movement based learning techniques. This blog's mission is to educate and empower parents and children by sharing insights into the complexities of learning and development.