dyslexia test Archives - Lexercise

A Season of Gratitude

Here at Lexercise, we make a special effort to express gratitude. It takes just a moment to say Thank you, but the benefits can be long-lasting. As we move toward Thanksgiving, we want to extend our special thanks to the students, families, teachers, and Lexercise therapists and staff who have gone above and beyond in this year of less-than-ideal conditions.

For public school struggling readers who qualify, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is supposed to define the specialized instruction and services they need to thrive academically. Unfortunately, many struggling readers don’t qualify or are never identified and never get the help that could be life-changing. Recent research indicates that even for those who are identified, it takes more than a year, on average, for a student just to be provided with an IEP so they can begin to get services. Schools may be under-resourced, and teachers and even school psychologists unprepared to provide the full evaluation necessary to confirm a diagnosis. 

As parents see their children falling behind their peers and contending with issues of anxiety, anger, frustration, and low self-esteem, they search desperately for answers. Happily—for parents and students—that search often leads them to Lexercise. Whether or not their child has an IEP, others find their way to Lexercise through referrals from psychologists, pediatricians, teachers, reading interventionists, and other consultants. 

We know, and any Lexercise family will tell you, that success requires commitment on the part of the student, the parent, and the therapist. It requires time and patience. It means showing up again and again, even when you’re not certain of the outcome.

So THANK YOU: to all those who refer struggling readers to Lexercise, to the students who commit themselves to daily practice, to the parents who encourage and support them, to more than a hundred qualified Lexercise dyslexia therapists who help parents and under-resourced schools identify and treat their struggling readers, and to the small but mighty Lexercise staff, who continue to support the Lexercise vision and our science-backed methods.

We are not alone in our gratitude. Read (and watch) some of the heartwarming stories we have received from Lexercise families

We are grateful to each and every one of you and look forward to continuing our work together.

An Overview of our Mississippi Dyslexia Screener

children in front of a school bus

In 2013, the State of Mississippi enacted a law requiring local school districts to implement State Board of Education-approved screening for dyslexia. The law (Mississippi Code § 37-173-15) specified that kindergarten and first-grade students in Mississippi would be tested for phonological awareness and phonemic awareness; sound-symbol recognition; alphabet knowledge; decoding skills; encoding skills; and rapid naming. The law also specified what steps would be taken if a child failed the test and who would be qualified to administer follow-up testing and evaluation.

At that time, there was no readily available comprehensive test that would cover all of the required skills. Since Lexercise had already introduced a free dyslexia screener for parents, the Lexercise team realized it could apply that knowledge and experience to build a screener to comply specifically with the new Mississippi legislation. Based on research-backed, open-source content, the resulting screener is automated for easy administration, scoring, and reporting.


Mississippi Dyslexia Screener: An Overview

Since 2013, the Lexercise Mississippi Dyslexia Screener has been used by thousands of teachers in Mississippi and other states where laws require screening of kindergarten and first-grade students. While it is designed to meet Mississippi code requirements, the screener can be used by any teacher or literacy professional. It is free, easy to use, and can be used for testing an unlimited number of students.

Our Mississippi Dyslexia Screener has built-in instructions, but here is a brief overview:

    • A simple log-in is required.
    • It is for use with Kindergarten and 1st Grade students only.
    • Lexercise recommends that the person administering the test review all instructions, materials, and test pages before conducting the first test.
    • Some pages require printing.
    • Each of the five tests screens for a specific skill and the student’s performance is marked by the administrator as the test proceeds. Some of the tests are timed and some are not.
    • The test pages provide instructions on how to proceed if the student is unable to complete a task.
    • When the tests have been completed, the screener automatically summarizes the student’s skills. This information can be used to recommend (if needed) a comprehensive dyslexia evaluation leading to a diagnosis.
    • Compiling a file or notebook for each student tested can be very helpful for discussions with parents and teachers.

apple, books, and blocks on teachers deskThe Lexercise Mississippi Dyslexia Screener has proven to be a fast, easy way for teachers to identify students at risk for dyslexia or other literacy struggles. It has also given the Lexercise team a great opportunity to engage with teachers and literacy professionals, get feedback, and start refining the screening process so that it is faster and even more efficient.

We invite teachers to try the free Lexercise Mississippi Dyslexia Screener for yourselves and let us know what you think. (If you are a parent, the right tool for you to screen your child is here.)

If you want to stay in touch and not miss any of our resources, make sure you sign up for our blog below. You can also contact us with any further questions. We are always happy to connect.

Drawing Parallels: Literacy and Music

literacy and music

Learning to read and write – what we call literacy – is a lot like learning to play a musical instrument.

When we hear a musical performance, we often say that people are talented, as if they just woke up one day ready for their first recital. But in fact, neither playing nor reading comes “naturally” to humans, the way breathing and talking do. 

Both require exposure, instruction, and practice.

The musician first listens to songs and simple tunes; the reader first listens to conversations, stories, and poems. Connecting the sounds of speech to letters and meaning is the most basic building block of reading and an essential step in structured literacy.

If these basic sounds, phonemes, can be compared to musical notes, then we can see that a growing understanding enables the student to comprehend and enjoy more complex music and stories and see how the elements join together in a tapestry-like whole.

For the reader and the musician, instruction and practice highlight the many, many sub-skills involved in fluent proficiency. Daily practice (eventually) makes them automatic. How much practice is required will vary from student to student.

Do you have a struggling reader? Browse the Lexercise library of online learning disability tests to learn more and to take a free test. 


Children Lack Social Skills

helpful-tips-for-homework-time-15Nearly four in five senior primary school staff in the U.K. are worried about their young student’s social skills and speech problems, according to a site called “The Key.”

That is a lot of students, and it is not much different in the United States. The journal Pediatrics published a study in which they found the percentage of kids with disabilities rose 16% and children with mental, emotional, or behavioral problems increased 64.7%.

Children are having trouble carrying on a conversation with proper social etiquette. No matter how smart a child is, communication is vital to their success as a student and eventually as an adult. There are three aspects of the conversation that this article feels that kids need the most work on.

1. How to read nonverbal cues

Nonverbal behaviors include facial expressions, gestures, intonation, proximity, and body language. They are almost 70% of overall communication comprehension. Children are not grasping this concept like they used to, and the consequences can be detrimental. Teach your children how to interact nonverbally by setting an example for them in your own conversations. Take them with you to social gatherings and include them in adult conversations. Do everything you can to subject them to as many interactions as you can.

2. How to take turns

children-1056065_960_720Children are having a harder time being active listeners lately, they may stop talking to allow their conversation partner to speak but they are not listening to them. The groundwork for proper conversation skills is laid when the child is very small. It starts with games like peekaboo and waving goodbye. If your child is past the age of these games, teach them not to interrupt. Start with that and move on to teaching active listener techniques. Tell them a story and ask them to relay it back to you.

3. How to stay on topic

Staying on topic with a conversation will allow them to relate to others. Teach them that it can be fun to learn about others, instead of bringing the conversation back to their interests and opinions. This is a vital skill when making friends for networking purposes in the future. If a person can connect with others, they are more likely to be successful in the future.

A common theme in fixing these problems is limiting technology use. Phones and computers do not teach anything near as important as conversational skills, and those lessons come from you, and the people around them.

For more information about learning disabilities, specifically, dyslexia, visit our website.   

Healthy Routines for Your Child

helpful-tips-for-homework-time-14It can be hard to get back into the school year routine when summer comes to a close. Your children may get used to the slower, more relaxed summer pace and need to get back into a productive one. Use these tips from our founder, Sandie Blackley to help you and your child shift your routines!

Morning Routines

  • Develop a morning checklist for everyone in the family so everyone knows what they need to do without any nagging.  Post the checklists where they can not be missed, perhaps on the refrigerator or on a whiteboard in the kitchen.
  • Get your child to help make their morning checklist. They’ll be more likely to be excited about using it if they helped make it.  Here are some ideas and products.

Evening Routines

  • Plan to get homework done –or else set it aside if it’s not done–by one hour before bedtime. That last hour is precious and it is needed for more important things than more homework.
  • If your child has an unreasonable of homework assigned ask to meet with your child’s teacher to discuss it.
  • Bear in mind that there is no research showing that homework is effective for elementary school children and there is plenty of research showing the effectiveness of regular reading aloud to children and adequate sleep!
  • Control media so it doesn’t control you (or your child)!  
  • We recommend that children do not have a television screen in their bedroom.
  • Because screen-time is incompatible with reading aloud and sleep we recommend no screen-time for anyone in the home in the last hour before the child’s bedtime. (Screens include TV, computers and smart phones!)
  • Reserve the last 30 to 60 minutes of the evening before bedtime for what matters most–a family read-aloud time and conversation. Even for older students, no homework is more important than this!    

If you think your child may have a learning disability, visit our site and take our free screener.


Reading Tools That Don’t Work: Guessing

Helpful Tips for Homework Time (13)

 Blog Bites


  • Public schools teach guessing which is an ineffective way to learn
  • There are four different categories of guessing for reading comprehension
  • If your child is a guesser, there are techniques to reverse their ways of thinking


Guessing instead of learning is a problem that a lot of young students struggle with. Unfortunately, some teachers actually teach students to guess at a word’s identity based on context, the visual appearance of the word, or even pictures on the page. Some professors of education even advocate for this ineffective teaching approach. Almost forty percent of our nation’s fourth graders are not on reading level, and a good portion of these students were likely taught the guessing method.

So, how do we break this habit in our children?

First, you need to identify if your child is indeed a guesser. There are four main types of guessers.

  • bookshelf-32811_960_720First Letter Guesser: They look at the first letter and guess after that. They often mistake words like happy for words like healthy.
  • Word Shape Guesser: They look at the first and last letters of a word in addition to the shape in the middle. They often mistake words like crow for words like crew.
  • Picture Clue Guesser: They look at the pictures near the word in question. They are simply using the words they know from the sentence to fill in the blanks according to what’s happening in the picture.
  • Context Clue Guesser: They will use the words they know in the sentence and their previous knowledge of the situation to fill in the blank. If they came across a sentence like “The cat chases the money” they might guess “mouse” instead of “money” because it makes sense in that context.

If your child fits one of those descriptions, you can try using the blending method at home. All you need is letter tiles (or small pieces of paper with a separate letter on each). Pick a word and separate each letter it uses. Ask your child to sound out each letter individually, and when they have done that, tell them to blend the sounds together. This will act as practice for your child to get used to sounding the letters out without having them physically separated.

This is a multi-sensory technique. Lexercise’s Structured Literacy Curriculum uses research-backed, multi-sensory methods to teach your child how to read, write and spell confidently and independently. Please watch this video to learn how we partner with you to teach your child.

5 Incorrect Labels for Dyslexia

Helpful Tips for Homework Time (10)If your child is diagnosed or shows signs of dyslexia, there is a huge possibility that you will hear terms that are completely incorrect to describe your child’s disorder. You may even be confused by round-about diagnostic terms given to hide a diagnosis of dyslexia like a Specific Learning Disorder. If you are misinformed, it could affect the kind of treatment he or she receives in school– which could be detrimental to early intervention.  Though there is research being done looking into subtypes of dyslexia, there is only one official form.

Directional dyslexia/ spacial dyslexia/ geographic dyslexia: This refers to the issue some dyslexics experience with telling left from right. Though, this is simply something that comes along with dyslexia and is not a separate condition.

Visual Dyslexia: This term suggests that dyslexia is a visual problem, which is completely incorrect. This theory suggests that dyslexia can be improved through eye exercises or tinted lenses– and the only thing that helps dyslexia is structured literacy therapy. Countless neuroscience studies have proven dyslexia is not a vision condition. Experts do not endorse vision therapy as a treatment for dyslexia and never use this term to describe dyslexia.

13584535514_c2bb726231Math Dyslexia: This is an inaccurate name for dyscalculia– which is a brain-based math learning issue. Dyscalculia is not a form of dyslexia, but it isn’t unusual for kids to have both dyscalculia and dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a widespread issue with many nuances, but there is only one official type. If you see your child is showing any symptoms of dyslexia, take our free online screener. Early intervention is crucial to your child’s success.

Metacognition Creates Independent Learners

 How to Correct Your Child Without Discouraging them (4)

Metacognition is the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes– there are three ways of going about this. But unfortunately, public schools usually only teach one.

Ron Ritchhart, a Project Zero senior research associate at the Learning and Brain Conference, said that if students don’t have metacognition strategies, then they are are waiting for someone to direct our thinking. In short, he said that these strategies help students become more independent learners.

His theory is that if educators can make thinking more visible, and help students develop routines around thinking, then their thinking about everything will deepen.

Public schools only teach “Thinking about thinking” which includes slowing down to take note of how and why students are thinking. It also includes seeing thinking as an action they are taking. When teachers say “show your work” or “write down your process,” they are referring to thinking about thinking.

Monitoring thinking is the second way of reaching metacognition. It’s when a student is reading and stops to realize he’s not really understanding the meaning behind the words.

boy-1126140_960_720The third form is called directing thinking. It happens when students can call upon specific thinking strategies to redirect or challenge their own thinking.

He advocates creating what he calls a “Culture of Thinking” which can exist in any place where learning is a part of the experience.

Ritchhart and his colleagues have been working to zero in on a short list of “thinking moves” related to understanding to help reach metacognition.

  • Naming: being able to identify the parts and pieces of a thing
  • Inquiry: questioning should drive the process throughout
  • Looking at different perspectives and viewpoints
  • Reasoning with evidence
  • Making connections to prior knowledge, across subject areas, even into personal lives
  • Uncovering complexity
  • Capture the heart and make firm conclusions
  • Building explanations, interpretations, and theories.

Using these different techniques will help take your child out of the monotony of a grade school classroom. They will be forced to switch off of autopilot and think about how they are receiving and comprehending information.

Dyslexia Benefits in the Workplace

Making Stress Work for Students (3)Many regard dyslexia as a disability, however, learning disability experts Brock and Fernette Eide present an argument that dyslexia is simply an alternative way that our brains can be wired. According to the Eide’s, this alternative wiring comes with multiple advantages and even more misconceptions.

The Eide’s are the authors of “The Dyslexic Advantage,” “The Mislabeled Child” and the founders of a nonprofit called “Dyslexic Advantage.”

In an interview with WIRED magazine, Fenette said, “It’s a huge mistake to regard a dyslexic child as if his or her brain is trying to follow the same pathway of development as all the other kids but is simply doing a bad job of it.”

She continued by saying that society holds a misconception that dyslexic brains only differ in the ways they process printed symbols, adding that dyslexic brains have different processing styles and therefore develop in different ways.
“Dyslexic brains are organized in a way that maximizes strength in making big picture connections,” Fenette continued in the interview, “at the expense of weaknesses in processing fine details.”

They have discovered dyslexics are exceptional in four categories of strengths:

graduation-149646_960_720Spatial Reasoning: Putting together three- dimensional spatial perspectives

Professions dealing with this strength: Design, 3-D art, architecture, be engineers, builders, inventors, organic chemists.

Interconnected reasoning: The ability to shift perspective and view an object or event from multiple perspectives, or the ability to see the “gist” or big-picture context surrounding an event or idea

Professions dealing with this strength: Highly interdisciplinary fields, fields that require a background in multiple subjects, management.

Narrative reasoning: Remembering facts as experiences, examples or stories, rather than abstractions

Professions dealing with this strength: Sales, counseling, trial law, teaching professional writer.

The ability to reason well in dynamic settings when the facts are incomplete or changing

Professions dealing with this strength: Business field, in financial markets or in scientific fields that reconstruct past events, like geologists or paleontologists.

Aspects of your child’s dyslexia can seem like traits that will hold them back in the workplace, but according to the Edie’s research, your child may have many desirable traits in the professional environment.

To ensure your child’s success get them the intervention they need now with Lexercise’s Structured Literacy Therapy. If you think your child is Dyslexic you can screen them in 15 minutes for free.

Positive Ways to Correct Your Child

How to Correct Your Child Without Discouraging themDyslexia is a frustrating and confusing disorder for children to deal with during the formative school years. They may develop some confidence issues, issues that should not be solidified by his or her parent. A parent’s job is
to encourage a child to do their best, not to highlight what they do wrong.

That being said, don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t worry about menial tasks that they do not complete with ease, their job is to focus on their reading and spelling skills, not their coloring skills. Examples of tasks you should leave alone are erasing pencil markings completely, using scissors correctly and coloring inside the lines.

These tasks may seem like they are important in elementary school, but you know that they won’t matter much in the real world– and they will figure it out when they need those skills. Chances are, you will be correcting your child more than you would an average student; so be mindful not to overwhelm them with instruction.12779343884_3fb3122e0a_o

That being said, the way you go about corrections is very important to your child’s educational career. Here are some helpful replacements for phrases you may feel you need to use.

  • “This is easy” —> “I know you can do this”
  • “Get it together and just learn to do it” —-> “Let’s take a brain break and try again in a few minutes”
  • “You are not applying yourself” —-> “Can you explain your process to me?”
  • “Try harder” —-> “Take your time, I’m proud of your effort”
  • “You knew it yesterday” —-> “Let’s think about how we did this yesterday”

Though your intentions may be coming from a place of love, you still have to be careful how you talk to your child when helping them with their homework. You may forget what you say by the next day, but your child will likely carry it with them to their next tasks.

Lexercise therapists are great at partnering with parents to give them tips on how to support your child throughout the week. You can schedule a free consultation with one of our therapists to learn more about our therapy program.

Identify Dyslexia Early

Parents and teachers alike have often asked “how early dyslexia can be diagnosed?” While diagnosing a reading disability prior to literacy instruction is considered questionable by most school systems, patterns in children’s speech can predict later challenges in reading.

When children are first learning to speak, they often make sound errors.  Young children may eat “pasketti,” not “spaghetti”, carry a “packpack” to preschool, or even love to see the “aminals” at the zoo when still developing.  However, for some children, these differences are more pronounced and indicate poor speech sound development.  This learning difference predicts reading difficulties since children who have trouble processing sounds for speech often carry that difficulty into reading and spelling.

rainbow-1140420_1920In some children, speech develops normally but there is still difficulty with identifying and sequencing the speech sounds in words. For example, at 2nd grade a child with weak speech sound processing may have trouble telling the order of the 4 speech sounds in a word like smash (s-m-a-sh).

These symptoms may indicate an underlying language-literacy processing problem.  Even if these kids appear to be mastering early literacy, their underlying challenges with sounds mean they are far more likely to memorize words and use dysfunctional decoding patterns than to build the skills that prepare them for lifelong literacy. Fortunately, there is an effective treatment!

Designed specifically for students with this type of challenges, Lexercise therapy supports speech sound awareness and processing.

Our clients include children of speech-language pathologists who know that the solid research behind Lexercise is the best thing they can offer their own children.

If your child’s previously “cute” preschool articulations are moving towards concerning reading struggles, we encourage you to administer the free Lexercise dyslexia screener as a first step to identifying an underlying language processing problem.

Famous Dyslexics: Sports

Famous Dyslexics- Sports

Dyslexics can often thrive on the court or field more than they do in the classroom. For students that fall behind in the classroom, sports can equal out the playing field.  Dyslexics are sometimes seen as outcasts in school and their self-esteem suffers because of this. The chance to be on a team with their classmates makes them feel included. Sports also offer struggling students a positive escape from hard homework and poor grades. These famous dyslexics have become most known for their athletic accomplishments!


Dyslexics who triumphed in sports

Magic Johnson

“All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and somebody who believes in them.”

picture of magic johnsonFor Earvin “Magic” Johnson, basketball wasn’t merely a game. The five-time NBA champion, who received his famous nickname after scoring 36 points in a high school game, found his success story on the courts – not in the classroom. Johnson struggled with dyslexia in school and took summer classes in order to stay caught up. As a young boy, he was judged by both his classmates and advisers. While others had low expectations, Johnson saw the potential he had as a basketball player. In order to secure a spot on the Michigan State University team, the young player dedicated his early mornings to practicing his sport. Two years after enrolling in college, Johnson was drafted into the NBA where he would go on to win five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was also a part of the United States’ gold medal basketball team at the 1992 Olympics.


Muhammad Ali

“It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”

picture of Muhammad AliWorld heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali fought hard in the ring as well as in the classroom. Diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, Ali struggled with reading. He barely graduated from high school and never felt smart. He hated reading but loved to fight. A local law enforcement agent noticed the remarkable drive and energy that Ali had and later acted as the young boy’s boxing mentor. Ali grew up to become an incredible athlete, winning world championships and gold medals at the Olympics. Today, Muhammad, in collaboration with his wife, runs a program called “Go the Distance”, which aims to improve the literacy of young African Americans. He says his struggles with academics only motivated him to work harder for success.

Tim Tebow

“You can be extremely bright and still have dyslexia. You just have to understand how you learn and how you process information.”

picture of Tim TebowThe public eye is used to seeing NFL quarterback Tim Tebow tackle his opponents, but off the field, he spends time tackling the symptoms of his dyslexia. By looking at his high 3.7 GPA and the healthy study habits he exhibited while at the University of Florida, it would be hard to tell that the now free agent was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of seven. Tebow’s father and brother both struggled with the learning disability, so the symptoms Tim displayed were nothing unfamiliar to this family. Tebow says his dyslexia makes it hard for him to sift through large amounts of information in order to make a clear decision. He learns best from hands-on experience, rather than diagrams or game plans. In order to memorize complicated playbooks, Tebow makes his own flashcards to study up on plays before the big games. His dedication and willingness to put in extra behind-the-scenes work are what have helped the football player win multiple awards and honors for both his collegiate and professional football career.


Meryl Davis

“I learned how I learned and how my brain worked.  It helped me adjust and compensate for my differences…. It opened me up to problem-solving, seeing things differently, and how I can help myself overcome things.”

picture of Meryl DavisMeryl Davis often stays quiet about her dyslexia. She’s not embarrassed, but the world champion figure skater wants her skating to take the main stage. Meryl began ice skating at the age of five and was diagnosed with dyslexia in third grade. While she shined on the ice, she secretly struggled with self-esteem and often viewed herself as unintelligent. She had a hard time reading throughout high school but successfully graduated as a member of the National Honors Society. After high school, the figure skater continued on to pursue a college education at the University of Michigan. When the 2014 Sochi Olympics rolled around, Meryl and her dance partner of 17 years were determined to reap the benefits of their demanding workouts and travel schedules. Their risky routine paid off, and together they became the first American Ice Dancers to medal in gold. Davis says her dyslexia is what helped her develop a remarkable character. After taking the time to understand how her mind works best, she has become more patient with herself. Although her skating career is currently on hold, she continues to work towards getting her degree in cultural anthropology.

Ensure your child’s success by getting them the help they need. You can screen your child for dyslexia with our free dyslexia screener.