Still confusing b's and d's, still writing many letters backwards, 4 years after learning the alphabet? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 30 Old 12-30-2008, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know if this belongs here or in Special Needs or Learning or what, but I thought I'd put it here and see what happens.

DD learned the alphabet easily when she was 14 months old. She confused d, b, and p and m and w then...no big deal, of course....but she's nearly 5 now and has known every other letter down cold for FOUR YEARS, but she STILL can't seem to distinguish those easily. She is reading at probably an early first grade level but is struggling with d's and b's (m and w don't seem to be as big a thing, though she sometimes confuses them still) and it's holding her back. She also routinely reverses MANY of her letters--actually, almost all that can be reversed--even though she's been writing for well over a year now.

Could this be a visual issue? A spatial perception weakness? She is also somewhat clumsy and tends to fall off of things. She is also surprisingly weak at puzzles, and the other day I saw her struggle with a computer game where you look at three pieces of a shape and have to mentally "join" them to match it with a complete shape. It was pretty surprising to me how poorly she did with this--I have rarely seen her so obviously not "getting" something.

I know confusing these letters and writing backwards are common issues, but it does seem odd in a child who otherwise learns extremely fast and who has known this stuff for so long. Yes/no?

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#2 of 30 Old 12-30-2008, 01:06 PM
 
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That's not uncommon. You can try teaching her cursive. That really helps with getting b's and d's in the right direction.
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#3 of 30 Old 12-30-2008, 01:24 PM
 
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Not sure, but I wonder if it might be something with asynchronous development. Dd#1 was much weaker in the mental rotation of objects and did reverse "3"s and "5"s until 1st grade (age 6) at which point she was reading well above grade level but still doing some things that were age typical like the reversals. As an example, on the perceptual reasoning part of the WISC, she scored in the 25th percentile on the part that asked her to do something with blocks that involved rotating puzzle pieces and the 99.9th percentile on a part that related to missing pieces of a puzzle.

She's ten now and getting much more even in her abilities. The cursive idea seems to be a good idea. My dd liked learning artistic writing like cursive and caligraphy so it may appeal to your dd depending on her interests. Also, we bought dd some puzzle activities like Blokus and Tantrix to help with her visualization of things moving in space. She's definately above avg in that area now, but it probably won't be as strong of a skill for her as it is for dd#2 and me.

eta: I realized that I didn't address the physical clumsiness. Dd#1 was also not the most physically adept. She's been seen by an OT and a psych who specialized in gifted kids. The only thing the OT came up with was SPD, which a psych with experience with highly gifted kids told me she didn't view as a disorder in kids like dd, just part of the sensitively wired brain. We wound up just working on it ourselves with integrative physical activities like swimming and ballet. Dd may not be an athlete, but she's not a serious clutz either. She didn't learn to ride a bike w/out training wheels until age 9, as much due to fear of hurting herself as anything it seemed, but she's also been scuba diving since age 8, is a very good swimmer, did well in a ballet class, and doesn't bump into things or appear clumsy. It was a matter of finding individual sports that didn't entail kids running at her to take a basketball from her, for instance, which made her freak out and freeze. I don't know, your dd or mine could have some sort of issue related to motor planning or visualization, but at this point it isn't affecting my dd's life to an extent that makes it worth more testing and therapy that she doesn't want.
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#4 of 30 Old 12-30-2008, 01:46 PM
 
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I did that until 2nd grade and went on to get a Master's degree. Someone explained it as if you look at a chair, no matter which angle you are looking at it from...it's a chair. It sometimes takes a while for them to translate that letters can only be made in one direction while other objects are always the same thing no matter what position they are in. Often children have a hard time getting the hang of those similarly shaped letters and which direction they need to go in to be correct.

I am sure there are probably memory devices that you can teach to your child to help them to remember which way those particular letters need to go. Maybe some of the teachers here can elaborate.

I think that it probably just isn't her "thing." I wish I had more information and better advice for you!

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#5 of 30 Old 12-30-2008, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, I see how it could be an aspect of asynchrony for sure. I think I may be a little quick to see issues here because my own spatial skills are quite poor (I have NO sense of direction) so I may be sort of expecting it. It's just weird to watch her play a game where she reads everything else perfectly but gets completely thrown off by doll vs. ball.

She reverses all the reversible numbers, too. Also confuses 6 and 9.

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#6 of 30 Old 12-30-2008, 02:43 PM
 
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When my daughter was in kindergarten, she started reversing her b's and d's (she'd had them right before), and it seems like a lot of kids do that. I think it's part of some developmental stage, and normal. Maybe they move from memorizing the exact shape of each letter to internalizing the, um, Platonic ideal of it? And it's easy to flip that around in your head and get it confused with the symbol that goes the other way?

I've also noticed that young children read upside-down more easily than adults, and I assume it's the same thing -- letter orientation is more fluid at that age, I guess.
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#7 of 30 Old 12-30-2008, 05:39 PM
 
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My DS does this too.

Everything that I've read says that it's actually a sign of visual-spatial acuity, not a weakness. After all, she's obviously rotating the shapes in her mind, which a lot of people can't even do. She just needs to learn to control it.
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#8 of 30 Old 12-30-2008, 09:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daytripper75 View Post
I did that until 2nd grade and went on to get a Master's degree. Someone explained it as if you look at a chair, no matter which angle you are looking at it from...it's a chair. It sometimes takes a while for them to translate that letters can only be made in one direction while other objects are always the same thing no matter what position they are in. Often children have a hard time getting the hang of those similarly shaped letters and which direction they need to go in to be correct.

I am sure there are probably memory devices that you can teach to your child to help them to remember which way those particular letters need to go. Maybe some of the teachers here can elaborate.

I think that it probably just isn't her "thing." I wish I had more information and better advice for you!

Completely ditto the above.
Yes, she may have learned the alphabet years ago, BUT it doesn't mean her brain is at a point to not look at the letters simply as pictures. Kids initial see letters as pictures, and easily turn them around. (like a cat is a cat, no matter which way it is facing).

I don't see any issue here, considering her age. If she is still doing this in 2nd grade, I think that is generally when it clears for most kids, then I would see it as a problem.
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#9 of 30 Old 12-30-2008, 10:20 PM
 
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If she's learned the letters at age 5 and was mixing them up at age 9, I'd have her tested for dyslexia. But she learned the letters REALLY young, and to mix up letters at age 5 is very, very normal!

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#10 of 30 Old 12-30-2008, 11:22 PM
 
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I did all this -- still am clumsy and somewhat absent minded, reversed my letters until grade 3, but could read at a highschool level by grade 4. I still can't figure out in my head how many little spaces I need to move on a crib board if I have 17 points.

But for me, anyway, it actually is one of those weird strength/weakness things. I sew and quilt, and I can think of something I want to make, and then see where all the seams are supposed to go and how it could be constructed in my head because of the rotational ability, and I have great patten seeking abilities, and can still read upside down. So it might not be all bad.

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#11 of 30 Old 12-30-2008, 11:24 PM
 
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I can read upside down nearly as well as right side up as well. I was well into adulthood before I realized that some people cannot read upside down. I'm still not sure if it is that uncommon to be able to do so.
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#12 of 30 Old 12-30-2008, 11:46 PM
 
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I can read upside down but not very well. My DH can read just as rapidly upside-down or backwards as right-side up.
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#13 of 30 Old 12-31-2008, 12:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ChristaN View Post
I can read upside down nearly as well as right side up as well. I was well into adulthood before I realized that some people cannot read upside down. I'm still not sure if it is that uncommon to be able to do so.
IMHO, I think you might be in a select minority there.
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#14 of 30 Old 12-31-2008, 12:14 AM
 
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OP, ds just said that he was confusing b and d through the 3rd grade. He just said, "it's because they look so alike" also, "they taught us how to write it different in 3rd grade." (cursive) He also said, "if you want to write a d you make a c and then go up. Because I confuse b and d I told myself that c was between and it make sense to me that the c would help make the d."
You may have to close your eyes as I did but I was able to imagine this in my mind as I "drew" a cursive d in my mind. Makes perfect sense.

HTH
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#15 of 30 Old 12-31-2008, 12:16 AM
 
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My DS reminds me of GWB (remember the pic of him reading to those kids in the library) because he often picks up a book and begins play-reading it upside down. He doesn't care. I've mentioned it a couple of times and he'd quietly turn it around and continue right-side up. But he's verbal now and the last time I corrected him he looked at me and asked, "Why?" I was dumbfounded. "Well, so that you can read the letters, of course." Then he promptly (and a bit snottily) read out the letters in machine-gun fashion and I said, "Fine. Then read it upside down, if you want." Then I promptly turned around, took a deep breath, and said "Oh, my God."
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#16 of 30 Old 12-31-2008, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the input. I will just keep an eye on it, I guess. I do think she would benefit from a way to tell b and d apart more easily since it's frustrating her a little--I will tell her the C trick and see if that helps. I've told her that the loop is on the left for D, etc, but for some reason that doesn't help. She's odd about R and L--had them down at 2, but now confuses them sometimes. (I didnd't really learn R from L till I was like 9!)

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#17 of 30 Old 12-31-2008, 12:23 PM
 
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My kids both had issues with right and left as well -- dd#1 moreso than dd#2.
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#18 of 30 Old 12-31-2008, 12:27 PM
 
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is she left handed?
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#19 of 30 Old 12-31-2008, 01:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by loraxc View Post
I know confusing these letters and writing backwards are common issues, but it does seem odd in a child who otherwise learns extremely fast and who has known this stuff for so long. Yes/no?
Not odd at all. From everything that I have read it is expected in children through around age 8/2nd grade. The letters she is mixing up are the most common as well. Kids will reverse letters, write backward and upside down as part of the learning process. She is still really young and just because she had early recognition would not necessarily put her off the mark for still going through recognition process. I have no idea what our 7 year olds reading level is but she reads adult level chapter books and has been writing since she was late two. She still sometimes writes b's for d's with LC letters. DD2 (4.5) who is at an early reader level also makes the same errors as your dd. She will also write e's perfectly, but backward. It is part of the process.

There is so much going on when reading and writing. There could be some asyncronicty happening here as well which could make those common and expected reversals seem off target. These reversals are expected in K and 1st, and your seeing them now because that's where she is now. She is actually following the usual and expected path so to say, but because she started so young the process is spanning a few more years. The little lady had so much else going on during that time as well! Learning to communicate, socialize, express herself, jump, skip, hop on one foot.... She wasn't focusing on just one thing YK? So yes, I would expect the process to last a little longer when you think of it in terms of starting when she was 14 months old.

I'm curious as to how it is 'holding her back' though. She may still be at that early reader stage where she has not memorized many site words so may not be self correcting in her reading. If she were to read "The dog ate a bone" would she say "The bog ate the done" and just move on or does she have comprehension that it doesn't make sense and will correct?

The 'magic c' is a common tool used in the 'handwriting without tears' curriculum. DD1 started this in K and they used it in first as well in their remedial program I believe. The 'magic c' was used for any letter you could make starting with a c (like a, d, g....). In 2nd they have started cursive writing without joining so far and everything I've read agrees with the PP's that it helps with the standard reversals.

If you wanted to work with her on it there are some tricks I've seen people use. The left hand 'a ok' sign (making a circle with your index finger and thumb) makes a 'b' and the right hand sign makes a 'd' (in sign language this is also the sign for the letter 'd' so teaching her that may help as well). You could also play around with the word 'bed', which actually looks like a bed (I'm immediately picturing the 'Word World' tv show in my mind). You could have her turn the word into a drawing of a bed etc..

The reversing of the letters wouldn't concern me, but if you are concerned about general clumsiness has her eyesight ever been tested?

HTH!
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#20 of 30 Old 12-31-2008, 01:35 PM
 
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some have suggested keeping the word "bed" in mind when trying do decide which letter is which. Perhaps if you teach them the word bed, have them practice writing it, and using it to compare every time they encounter a b or a d, they will get it.

Some have also suggested to do tic-tac-toe with b's and d's instead of x's and o's. But technically, an upside down b is a q and and upside down d is a p with some printing styles, so this might add trouble.

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#21 of 30 Old 12-31-2008, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She may still be at that early reader stage where she has not memorized many site words so may not be self correcting in her reading. If she were to read "The dog ate a bone" would she say "The bog ate the done" and just move on or does she have comprehension that it doesn't make sense and will correct?
It's more that she would say, "The bog ate the...the bog...I don't know! What does it say??" and get frustrated.

(Yeah. She's easily frustrated.)

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#22 of 30 Old 01-02-2009, 12:34 PM
 
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It's more that she would say, "The bog ate the...the bog...I don't know! What does it say??" and get frustrated.

(Yeah. She's easily frustrated.)
Is she a perfectionist? Without assuming it sounds like it, but I'm coming at that from our experience with DD1 who is a perfectionist and struggled with reading at that age because of it. Considering the reversal with the the given letters is 'normal' what may be holding her back could be more her personality. Our DD1 wanted to learn how to read when she was 3. Since she already knew both UC/LC letters, and was writing letters to family in complete sentences we figured she'd be reading soon as well. We never pushed it though, she did. She wanted so desperately to read and it was really our first introduction into her perfectionism.

She went through phases with reading, wanting to learn, then getting frustrated and taking a break. In the end it wasn't until she was 5.5 that she was reading confidently, independently without frustration. It seemed with her that reading was really the first thing she had encountered that she didn't pick up on right away, that took some time to learn. It was as if she thought we could sit down, show her how to read and she'd be able to pick up Harry Potter and read fluently, immediately. There was a lot of asynchronicty going on there. It may be different with your child, but I thought I'd share.

I don't want to read too much into it, but our DD reacted the same way. That early reading phase was so frustrating for her. She was also a phonetic reader, and that comes into play as well. There have been lots of suggestions on the reversal issues. If you think she's a perfectionist then I'd help her through that as well.
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#23 of 30 Old 01-02-2009, 05:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She went through phases with reading, wanting to learn, then getting frustrated and taking a break. In the end it wasn't until she was 5.5 that she was reading confidently, independently without frustration. It seemed with her that reading was really the first thing she had encountered that she didn't pick up on right away, that took some time to learn.
Yes, this sounds just like DD, exactly. She also does not take direct instruction very easily and seems to expect to just be able to figure it all out herself in two seconds. She asked to learn to read, but our efforts to help her have not turned out that well. She actually learned much more from visiting literactive.com and doing it all on her own.

She can be a perfectionist in some ways, but on the other hands, she is a prolific artist and creator and does not struggle with self-criticism or frustration there. It may be that it comes out with reading because she's aware that there is a right and wrong way to do it.

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#24 of 30 Old 01-04-2009, 01:13 AM
 
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You might try giving her some visual cues:

in "b" the "leg" is kicking a ball (you could even draw a picture of a 'b' with a 'foot' kicking the round part of the 'b')

in 'd' there is a "dog" behind its owners leg (again draw a picture where the circle part of the 'd' has floppy ears, eyes and a smile).

Those two words (ball/dog) can then help you give her a cue - is the leg kicking the ball? is the dog behind the leg?

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#25 of 30 Old 01-05-2009, 04:59 AM
 
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I don't know if this belongs here or in Special Needs or Learning or what, but I thought I'd put it here and see what happens.

DD learned the alphabet easily when she was 14 months old. She confused d, b, and p and m and w then...no big deal, of course....but she's nearly 5 now and has known every other letter down cold for FOUR YEARS, but she STILL can't seem to distinguish those easily. She is reading at probably an early first grade level but is struggling with d's and b's (m and w don't seem to be as big a thing, though she sometimes confuses them still) and it's holding her back. She also routinely reverses MANY of her letters--actually, almost all that can be reversed--even though she's been writing for well over a year now.

Could this be a visual issue? A spatial perception weakness? She is also somewhat clumsy and tends to fall off of things. She is also surprisingly weak at puzzles, and the other day I saw her struggle with a computer game where you look at three pieces of a shape and have to mentally "join" them to match it with a complete shape. It was pretty surprising to me how poorly she did with this--I have rarely seen her so obviously not "getting" something.

I know confusing these letters and writing backwards are common issues, but it does seem odd in a child who otherwise learns extremely fast and who has known this stuff for so long. Yes/no?
Sorry to crash this forum, but I did and do that. I can also write and read backwards and upside-down. Like, whole paragraphs. I can dictate backwards. With both hands. I guess that means I'm gifted, hah, hah, but oddly, I am not talented in rotating three-dimensional objects in my head. Or two-dimensional objects. Only letters. I do very poorly with puzzles when I cannot physically manipulate them, UNLESS they are logic puzzles. It is really strange and I am sorry to say that writing backwards and my ability to do logic puzzles (spatial or otherwise) has not really helped in my academic career.

I think what I have is the letters in a different part of my brain somehow. N.B. I cannot visualize them backwards. I can read and write them backwards but I can't just imagine them or rotate them like shapes. They just come out that way when I try to write them, if that makes sense. If I think about it I get stuck.

It started to straighten out, I mean the mixing, when I was eight. But I never did well on the puzzles that you described and I can still do the backwards and upside-down stuff.

Good luck.

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#26 of 30 Old 01-07-2009, 11:17 AM
 
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I do that and i'm 28. Always have. Never thought much of it till our two sons do it too. 5's and S's, 9's a,d P's too. hmmmm.... Makes me wonder.
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#27 of 30 Old 01-09-2009, 01:58 PM
 
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Had to mention this as it fit the topic so well. Yesterday I looked at our digital alarm clock and said to my DS, "Hey! It's already 2:22. We're late!" and he said, "We're very late as it's 5:55." Then the minute digit changed to a 3 and he said, "Now it's 5:5E!" And then he cracked up laughing.
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#28 of 30 Old 01-10-2009, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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oh, she totally confuses 5 and 2 on the digital clocks (but not elsewhere).

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#29 of 30 Old 01-14-2009, 04:12 PM
 
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I know your DD and mine are similar in age and ability and DD occasionally will reverse b and d when writing them but not when reading them. She does not usually confuse the other letters or numbers though. I am not sure what level she reads at but probably similar level. When she does do the occasional reverse thing it worries me mainly because I think DH and one DS of his have dyslexia. But I also think its pretty normal at this age. DD is very agile and athletic though and above average in physical ability. Not sure if this helps but I do think its pretty normal, am mainly posting because DD has learned things at a similar age to yours and have noticed their similarities in the past.

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#30 of 30 Old 01-15-2009, 04:35 PM
 
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My son is in the third grade and in the gifted program at school. He still reverses his d and b and a lot of numbers as well.

One trick I told him to remember the difference in d and b was to remember the word "bright" the b faces the right "b-right"

He still reverses them though
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