I am at the beginning stages of researching help for my 3rd grade child who has been having reading problems since kindergarten. Now that he is working below standard in all aspects of reading, writing, and math, the school suggested I talk to his doctor about ADD. His reading specialist and pediatrician both suggested that he complete a thorough eye exam. I do not have any personal experience with either ADD or Dyslexia, but after reading both descriptions, I feel that he is showing many signs of dyslexia.

My question is about finding him the right person to do the eye exam. I believe that he would need a visual perception test as opposed to a regular pediatric eye exam. Do you know of any providers in Southeast Michigan?


Dr. Pierson's Response: 

Unfortunately, I am not familiar with any pediatric specialists in the area of visual perception so I cannot make a referral. I suggest you contact Kellogg Eye Center to inquire about someone with expertise in this area.

While it is important to ascertain that the eyes are working together, visual issues are not the crux of dyslexia—difficulties perceiving the sounds in our language (called phonological awareness) and learning letter-sound matches and spelling rules (orthographic knowledge) are at the heart of dyslexia. If your son is dyslexic, he will need a good assessment of his oral language, reading, spelling, and writing skills. Here is a list of providers in MI, some of whom assess and diagnose.

Although schools in Michigan do not typically diagnose dyslexia, you could request an evaluation for a suspected learning disability. Many times, children with dyslexia exhibit ADD behaviors, particularly when they are asked to read, spell, and/or write. It can be an avoidance behavior—the child knows he is going to fail at reading the text so he thinks of anything to do rather than fail. That said, there is also a co-morbidity between the two disabilities. Your son’s pediatrician can help you figure out the ADD question.