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Topic: Backwards letter recognition/handwriting

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Subject: Backwards letter recognition/handwriting
Date Posted: 8/21/2008 8:13 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,718
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At what age is it still normal for kids to confuse b and d, q and p, n and u, etc and to write letters backward, and at what age is it time to have them tested for dyslexia? My son is almost 5, he gets his "mirror" letters right about 50% of the time, but the other 50% of the time he still confuses them. And he almost always writes his Js backwards. The book What to Expect in the Toddler Years says this is normal for toddlers, but it doesn't say at what point they should outgrow it.

Date Posted: 8/21/2008 8:33 PM ET
Member Since: 7/2/2006
Posts: 1,620
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Letter reversals are completely normal - even for a couple more years.  No worries - just point out the correct way to write it and move on. 

Date Posted: 8/21/2008 8:47 PM ET
Member Since: 3/20/2007
Posts: 931
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Yes, completely normal at this age.  I would say around 7 you'd want to look into it more.

A good way to help with b & d is to make b & d shapes with your hands (not ASL).  Basically a b with an "ok" sign in your left hand, and a d with an "ok" in your right.  (Index finger in the air, other fingers in an "o").  It's hard to explain.  Then hold them up and tell the child that it's a bed - b-e-d.  It looks like a bed.  It has the letters in order, and they look like the lower case letters.  Then have them sound out the letters as they move their hands.

Just a tip I learned years ago.

I have an interesting story with letter reversals.  My DD is multiply handicapped, but very smart.  For awhile in 1st grade, she reversed letters she'd known before.  I was so glad she actually had a NORMAL KID issue.  :-)  It's all in perspective!


Date Posted: 8/21/2008 9:21 PM ET
Member Since: 2/11/2008
Posts: 24
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This is a very common situation! I have read a lot of info about reading research and the data shows that boys are usually later readers than girls. One major underlying message that I keep running across is "just read to your child every day and when they are ready it will happen."I do see this working out this way for my three sons. My daughter has had dificulties in this area. We could never get past phonics, sometimes she would forget what she had just learned the previous day.  We did Kdg twice at home and then felt we had to move on. During her third grade year she started to complain about head aches and stomach upset when we would do school work. We tried everything to find out what was wrong; eye exams, blood tests, learning delay tests, you name it- we did it! Then one day we found out about Irlens filters, long story short it was a miracle. When she was tested she was at the end of the fourth grade, reading at 1.6 grade level. Within three months of wearing the filters she was reading at 6.0 reading level. Her diagnosis was Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, yes it is a real medical definition. Her eyes are very sensitive to different colors in the light spectrum and it causes interference while trying to read and write. If anyone who reads this is interested in learning more about this you can visit www.IRLENS.com.  I am not trying to imply that your son has this but rather put this personal experience out there in hopes of helping another family.

Date Posted: 8/22/2008 1:06 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2007
Posts: 237
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If you can get "Curious George Learns The Alphabet" it may help. The pictures show the letters made into animals, etc. My youngest is 15 and I can still see the bird made from the B. It is available in the system here.  ISBN-10: 0395137187 pbk or ISBN-10: 0395159938 hdbk.

There's a board book version too for anyone with young children. I haven't seen this myself though... ISBN-10: 0395899257

Date Posted: 8/22/2008 2:40 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2007
Posts: 4,588
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One thing I did with my kidlets is to tell them "b" has a belly in the back. Kinda silly but they know that we read left to right so the bump on the back of the "b" is like a little belly. And since the phrase has alot of "b" sounds, it helps them remember.

I do all kinds of weird stuff though. Like to help distinguish between 6 & 9, I tell them that six is smaller than 9 so he is just a baby and has to sit on his bottom. But 9 is much old and stands tall on his toes.

Goofy huh?

Subject: Have you researched Dysgraphia?
Date Posted: 8/22/2008 7:05 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2006
Posts: 181
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Yes for some children reversal is normal. For other kids it is related to dyslexia. However dyslexics see it wrong on the page too, not just writing it wrong.

There is another condition that is called dysgraphia. Children with that write it wrong, reverse the letters and do other things. I had never heard of dysgraphia until spring 2008 and when I heard it and saw my 10.5 year old had almost all the symptoms I was blindsided. Here is a blog post I did that has more info and the links to read more.


All I am saying is learn a little about this and see if any of this fits.

I don't profit from sales of products sold by Dianne Craft but will mention if you want more info on identifying learning disabilities and what you can do at home she sells a DVD lecture that lays it all out called "Identifying and Helping the Struggling Learner" for $40. That might be a help for some people and a tiny fraction of the cost of private testing.



I'm not saying your child has any problem but these links might help you with research.


Hope this helps.

Date Posted: 8/23/2008 1:42 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2007
Posts: 237
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I also have a dysgraphic son who is mixed dominence.  We had homeschooled him for almost a year before I heard Dianne Craft at a conference.

I also have enjoyed Carol Barnier as a speaker, author and the driving force behing the SizzleBop.com website and mailing list.  The story behind that name is RICH!!  But I love how she tries to help us keep focused on the gift that is in our special child, rather than the label, and reminds us that God wired our child the way he did for His purposes. Edison and Einstein didn't march too well to the usual drumbeat either.

Hopefully this makes sense without too many spelling errors. It's been a long, busy week and my brain has already shut down...

Date Posted: 8/23/2008 10:12 PM ET
Member Since: 8/6/2005
Posts: 66
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Well I was told 7. Now my daughter is 7 1/2 and I am still being told this is within range. My mommy radar does not know what to think. I discussed it with the teacher who went over their school work for the state. She suggested that I do work on where to begin her letter writing and also to give her some lines to write on. Not all of her workbooks had this (she likes workbooks). My childrens doctor has 7 children and they are also homeschooled. She also tells me not to worry. I am planning to to try Sequential Spelling with her and see if that helps. She is picking up on words. We went to a village museum and told me about a sign that said "Food". So she is getting there. Even though at times she writes her name perfectly backwards. Sometimes her 'M" is even a "W" :)

She is also left handed. I am not sure if that has anything to do with it???


Date Posted: 8/24/2008 7:04 PM ET
Member Since: 6/6/2007
Posts: 89
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Well, my son is 11 and he still occasionally does it.  Of course, he is also "The Absent Minded Professor"  so that might have something to do with it.

Last Edited on: 8/24/08 7:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/25/2008 1:09 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 9
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Have him use his fingers to trace big copies of the letters, saying the letter name and the sound while he does it.  Once he seems to have the hang of it, he can try it on paper.  Stick to one letter for a few days before moving on. 

The b/d reversal is very common.  Most of it is due to bad handwriting habits.  When he makes a 'b', he should start at the top of the line, move down, and then make the bump,  For a 'd', you start out like a small 'c', move up to the top, and then back down.

Good Luck!

Subject: Same issue...finally improved!
Date Posted: 9/2/2008 8:13 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2008
Posts: 1
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    I have a daughter who is now 10, and it was just during this past year that this issue has disappeared. They kept watching her at school (private school with small classes), and in 2nd grade they let it slide most of the time, 3rd grade they started making her go back to correct her mistakes. We did choose to hold her back a year (we had homeschooled before this) because the school she was going into was very challenging, and because of the small classes they were able to tailor certain things to her level. She found reading very frustrating for quite a while. I'm absolutely amazed at the progress she's made! Thanks to some really great teachers and lots of encouragement, she loves to read now, and REALLY loves to write! Rarely do I see any reversals...although her handwriting can be really messy. I think it's due more to the fact that she's rushing so that she can get all of her thoughts on the page! Pay attention to what everyone is telling you because there certainly may be an underlying issue, but in our case it seems she just sort of ended up outgrowing it. Good luck, and trust your instincts!



Subject: teach him [and others] to make his 'bed'
Date Posted: 9/6/2008 12:22 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2008
Posts: 1
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When teaching the 'b' and the 'd,' theach him to make his 'bed.'

How to make your bed:

Using your two hands, make fists, then place them together [by the first long bone from the hand, lining up knuckles-- telling this is sooo much harder than showing] With fists together stand thumbs up. Your hands should look like this: bd  The word bed can be 'seen'. The letter that looks like the first letter in bed says /b/ and the letter that looks like the last letter in bed, says /d/. [some DC think their fingers look like the 'e.'


This is used with multi-sensory teaching stratagies for dyslexics. It works for others who are confused, until they mature more. Using it eases frustration for early readers, weather they be dyslexic or not.

I taught this to a classroom of kindergarteners. Several were later DX'ed as dyslexic. Never of them struggled to learn to read, because 'fun' activities reinforced multi-sensory learning from the beginning.

Having taught many dyslexic, I have seen several HS age students with their hand under the desk, making one side of their bed, just to remind themselves, as they read.


See if this helps make reading more fun for your young son.

Date Posted: 9/6/2008 4:09 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2006
Posts: 2,303
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"bed" worked pretty well for my daughter, though at 9 she does sometimes still put her hands up to check if it is right.

(Subbing in public schools) it was not unusual for some kids to still have occasionaly lapses with reversals at the end of 2nd/beginning of 3rd.