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Letter Reversals Is your child confused about 'b' and 'd'?

Updated on January 26, 2012

Finding out all about letter reversals

This page is for parents and teachers to learn about how they can help children who reverse their letters. Specifically 'b' and 'd' because these are the most common letters that are reversed. My name is Sue Kerrigan and I'm interested in this topic primarily because I'm a teacher and see this problem all the time in children (and some adults) yet I had never found much that would help. I'm also interested because I used to reverse these letters all the time at school and I still do on occasion. I'm dyslexic, but don't worry, if your child has this problem, it doesn't automatically mean they're dyslexic. It's more an issue of directionality and the type of person they are than dyslexia.

Confused!
Confused!

Research

Are you concerned that your child or the children in your class are confusing 'b' and 'd' as well? I was in the same position as you about a year ago. So I decided to do some research to see what would help these children. Almost a year later I have come up with some answers and a package to solve the problem. But I'm not the only one! So I've put together what I've found so you don't have to spend time searching.

objects don't change no matter what position they are in.
objects don't change no matter what position they are in.

What I discovered

I discovered that it is very common for children to reverse letters up to the age of 7 or 8 but there seems to be little explanation as to why one can continue to confuse these (and left from right) after the age of 7 or 8 years. There is a very simple explanation as to why young children do this:

Take for example an apple. Turn it upside down, is it still an apple? Flip it over, still an apple? With any object you choose, no matter how you hold it, it will not change what we call it.

From the moment we are born and start focusing, this is what we learn. Then, when we start to learn to read, the rules change; 'd' if we reflect it, it becomes 'b' but some of us still see it as 'd' just like the apple.

I have also discovered from the type of children I teach and the people I know (being a self employed teacher - I get to meet a lot of business people) it is mainly creative people who can more easily think in 3D that have this confusion. It is surprising that the number of adults that I speak to about this project admit that they, on occasion, still confuse 'd' and 'b' and had problems with this at school.

It seems that our creativeness that allows us to be successful in other areas has a knock on effect of sometimes causing us to confuse letters and left from right. I have not found any scientific research as to why this happens, all I've read is that it is a brain anomaly.

Dyslexia

Where does Dyslexia fit in to all this?

You may have heard the popular myth about letter reversals and Dyslexia? Well, the myth goes along the lines of "Oh, Dyslexia? That's where you get your letters round the wrong way, right?" Well yes and no. Some Dyslexics have this problem but some don't. So if you think your child might be Dyslexic don't just assume they are because they are getting their letters wrong. This is just one symptom that might lead a Psychiatrist or Specialist Teacher to diagnose Dyslexia. It is NOT the over-riding feature that defines Dyslexia and it rather annoys me when I see logo's or pictures about Dyslexia that show letters reversed - this is probably where the myth stems from!

So in summary, there are children with Dyslexia that do reverse letters and children without dyslexia that don't and those that do reverse tend to be more creative and can think three-dimensionally in pictures.

bat and ball
bat and ball

How can we help?

Yes we can! There are many strategies out in the world today that do help. There's the 'bed' method, making a fist of 'b' and 'd' with your hands and spelling 'bed' works a treat for some children and there's the 'bat and ball method' shown in the picture. And most children 'get it' fairly quickly and move on. But others don't and these are the children I'm most interested in trying to help. I believe that these are the kinaesthetic (right brain dominant) learners who need the most help, mainly because kinaesthetic learning is not the normal way of teaching in schools. Things are changing and more kinaesthetic ways of learning are happening but not nearly enough. (By the way, this method helps ALL children learn better in school).

Kinaesthetic, right-brained, big picture learners generally like art and colour and touch and don't tend to see the details. For example, I won't move the shoes in the hallway because I don't see them - much to my fiancées annoyance! These types of learners are best learning visually and practically with hands-on learning. It helps children to see and understand what is going on by 'doing'. Just listening and seeing isn't enough. We have to touch and feel to understand.

I have found some good resources in the following books, which I have tried with children and they work for some children, but not all. There is something missing. I didn't know what that was though for a while. For me personally as a teacher and lifelong learner, I'm just bored with worksheets all the time and a bored teacher is not a good teacher! They're also very good for the photocopier because they are black and white. This makes them cheap to reproduce which is a good thing for your wallet but if children are bored they're not learning. Having not found a book or pack of resources, I had to create my own bright and colourful resources that weren't just worksheets. But bright and colourful wouldn't do the trick by itself. I had to use my knowledge of how the memory works - I'm an NLP practitioner so I have learnt all about what motivates us to do and not to do things and about how our memory works.

Bulldog Letter Reversals
Bulldog Letter Reversals

Bulldog was born

Drawing is a hobby of mine and I like cartoon style drawing, so I was looking through my pictures and found Bulldog - he was the missing link!

I designed the whole package that was linked for memory retention around Bulldog - visually stimulating, with a loveable attention grabbing cartoon character.

I added:

Games that involved strategy to win by getting the letters correct. This means that they're so involved with the games that they don't realise how often they're reading and saying the letters and helping the skills they're learning get into their long-term memory

Activities that involve the whole body for kinaesthetic learning.

Posters and desk prompts to give them strategies to remember - I added a couple of my own - a new visual strategy and my mum's kinaesthetic strategy (my mum is a teacher too). Kids love them.

And the dreaded worksheets! But they weren't dreaded. They are colourful and converted into little booklets to be proud of - to take a little bit of Bulldog home for 'homefun' (not homework).

And of course Bulldog is everywhere, reminding them all the time about what they have learned and how to remember.

Bulldog works because the unique theme is linked throughout the entire pack which builds essential memory hooks every single time any resource is used. This is combined with proven multi-sensory activities to create an engaging, fun and motivating learning environment.

The solution to helping right-brained, creative and dyslexic children with b/d confusion is Bulldog Letter Reversals.

To make your own resources that work you'll need to think about not only teaching the difference between 'b' and 'd' but making your resources motivating, fun and engaging which gives them better, stronger memories that they can recall when they need to remember how to remember.

If you'd like Bulldog to help your child you can by going to visit Bulldog himself: http://www.bulldogletterreversals.com

Guestbook Comments

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    • carolweez profile image

      carolweez 4 years ago

      Very informative lens. I am a bit concerned about this topic, because we might just have this problem with my oldest daughter. I must bookmark this lens so I can come back to it when I have a bit more time for research. Well done.

    • profile image

      kay-alghani 4 years ago

      Hi Squidoo. Have you seen my book. Bertie Bumble Bee: Troubled by the letter 'b'? There is a unique mnemonic for remembering bs from ds. I noticed you featured another book of mine: the Red Beast in an excellent article on anger. All the best, Kay Al Ghani

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Love your information. It agrees with so very many things I've read since looking into this, the book The Gift of Dyslexia in particular. I want to put a link to your lens into mine. Thanks so much.

    • safereview profile image

      Bob 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Very interesting and informative lens! Well done. When I was very young I also mixed my d's and b's, and since I went by the name "Bobby" as a young boy it was a mess! lol For me it was a short term problem, but I know people who have dyslexia and so appreciated this lens.

    • mivvy profile image

      mivvy 5 years ago

      What an interesting lens and a perfect explanation of b/d confusion

    • desa999 lm profile image

      desa999 lm 5 years ago

      Nice lens idea and I still occasionally confuse them, when I'm reading fast.

    • staymor profile image

      staymor 5 years ago

      A really helpful lens. Thanks for making!

    • BlueStarling profile image

      BlueStarling 5 years ago

      I'm one of those adults who had problems with B and D and Left and Right as a kid, and I admit I still have those problems. I am happy to know that creative people tend to be the ones who have this problem (much better than believing I'm simply daft). I'm surprised there hasn't been research on this. Interesting lens and Bulldog is cool!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hmm! I have always had trouble with b and d and p and g and q all together, and with m and w. But I also seem to be able to easily imagine flipping things in 3D space AND I don't have trouble with these while typing because it's all about the LOCATION of the keys rather than thinking about writing a certain shape. Interesting! Sounds like a good enough explanation for me. Thanks for your help :)

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 5 years ago

      Excellent lens. Interesting. Both my husband and my daughter are very intelligent, but have the hardest time with remembering "right" and "left." I homeschooled my daughter (many years ago), but never realized she had ADD. How I wish I had the resources then to help her learn HER way! I think I probably did it anyway (unconsciously adapting my methods to her needs), because she excelled. It was quite a challenge. Some of the resources you have listed (for example, "Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World: Unlocking the Potential of Your Add Child") would have helped me tremendously!

      Congratulations on making the front page!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What a lot of great ideas and thank you for dispelling that myth about Dyslexia

    • letmelearn profile image
      Author

      letmelearn 5 years ago

      @Lee Hansen: Thank you Pastiche. I feel sometimes very mixed and muddled and wonder if that is what happens to me, thank you for your insight and your blessing.

    • letmelearn profile image
      Author

      letmelearn 5 years ago

      @cleanyoucar: Good luck with fatherhood and thanks for reading :)

    • letmelearn profile image
      Author

      letmelearn 5 years ago

      @Julia Morais: It's tricky isn't it? It is and it isn't, it's a stage of learning that we all go through, some get to the other side and some keep reversing, then it might be dyslexia.

    • letmelearn profile image
      Author

      letmelearn 5 years ago

      @Mozaika: You are not the only ones for sure - thank you for your comments - you might be interested in this www.bulldogletterreversals.com it is a huge pack of resources.

    • letmelearn profile image
      Author

      letmelearn 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Your very welcome.Collette

    • letmelearn profile image
      Author

      letmelearn 5 years ago

      @NidhiRajat: Your very welcome.

    • letmelearn profile image
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      letmelearn 5 years ago

      @Scotties-Rock: S's and 5's 7's 9's they are all a pain are they! I'm working on ways to help children remember all of these :)

    • letmelearn profile image
      Author

      letmelearn 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Your very welcome

    • letmelearn profile image
      Author

      letmelearn 5 years ago

      @Mariajomith: That's interesting that she need glasses - did it stop the reversals?

    • Julia Morais profile image

      Julia Morais 5 years ago

      Great informative lens. I'm one of those who used to think that 'd' 'b' confusion was linked to dyslexia too. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      nice lens

    • Mozaika profile image

      Mozaika 5 years ago

      Excellent and much needed lens!! Thank you! I am currently facing the challenge of teaching my 6-year-old son to distinguish between "b" and "d". I am glad you have pointed out that this is a very common problem - somehow I thought we were the only ones struggling. I am going to use the techniques from your lens to help my son.

    • profile image

      NidhiRajat 5 years ago

      thanks for such a valuable information....

    • profile image

      cleanyoucar 5 years ago

      Thanks for taking the time to share, am about to be a father next year so I'll keep this bookmarked =)

    • Scotties-Rock profile image

      Clairissa 5 years ago from OREFIELD, PA

      Very interesting lens, my son reversed S's and 5's when he was little. Drove me crazy. And had the left and right problem when I was a kid. I was really bad at Hokey Pokey. Thanks for in info.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      enjoyed my visit to your lens tonight, thank you.

    • Mariajomith profile image

      maria 5 years ago

      my daughter was showing some reversal when she was young, turns out she needed glasses.

    • profile image

      Buchamar 5 years ago

      Great Tips for teaching children with challenges! Thank you for sharing!

      I too have seen many great apps for education in all areas of life :-)

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 5 years ago from Vermont

      Very interesting. I have dual dominance and sometimes find myself at war with myself ... being logical and creative at the same time can be exhausting, but I like the duality of it. Helps me see both sides and understand extreme right- and left-brained people in my life. Blessed by a strolling angel.

    • ViJuvenate profile image

      ViJuvenate 5 years ago

      I work with lots of kids, as a home schooler. What a great lens. I especially like the simple trick of 'bed' with the fists. Very clever!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Really helpful especially for parents whose kids have this problem.

    • letmelearn profile image
      Author

      letmelearn 5 years ago

      @RhondaSueDavis: Thank you for your comments Rhonda. It is a gift, I wouldn't want to be left brained, right also means correct after all ;-) Has your eye specialist given you coloured overlays for your son to try?

    • letmelearn profile image
      Author

      letmelearn 5 years ago

      @franstan lm: Thank you franstan. I'm loving Squidoo - so nice of you to leave a commetn :-)

    • RhondaSueDavis profile image

      RhondaSueDavis 5 years ago

      My kid is just 10 and it took him longer to learn to read and he still flips some letters. confirmed he has mild dylexia this past year, helps to know. He thinks it is a bad thing but I try encourage him it is a gift of a more 3 dimensional and flexible mind. Sometimes I think this is just the way it is for us musical left handed and mix handed folks. we got some exercises to do with him from the eye specialist that seem to help. my middle school son and I compensate better than my younger son when we do data entry or write for our age and experience and it is overcome with work and attention to the task at hand! have to slow down and do one letter at a time. A fluid brain can be good and it can be very frustrating! Thank you for posting this lens. I hope many parents of younger children will read it and understand better how to help & support the process of learning for their kids.

    • franstan lm profile image

      franstan lm 5 years ago

      This is a very good lens dealing with a common problems. Blessed by a rambling Squid Angel

    • letmelearn profile image
      Author

      letmelearn 5 years ago

      @KarenTBTEN: Hi Karen, thank you for blessing my lens - I have heard of SquidAngels :-) and thank you for your comments. I like your term 'meaning maker', I am teaching a dyslexic student at the moment who is a very good 'meaning maker'. I agree with you about reversals having less of an impact on reading as you get older. Speaking from experience, reading is a non-issue for me now with the reversals but I occasionally write them round the wrong way and then instantly correct them. I have heard that the deliberate rearranging of text within a word (but keeping first and last letter the same) is a phenomenon or by-product of being able to read. You can sitll raed this txet that I'm tptnig rghit now cna't you?

      Thanks again for the blessing, it's always a pleasure and a little shock when someone likes my writing - being dyslexic, I never thought that would happen!

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 5 years ago

      I've used the 'bed' method myself -- b and face each other and make the shape of a bed. This is a very good resource. I'm the preschool and elementary 'SquidAngel' on Squidoo. I'm not sure if you know what a SquidAngel is -- with this being your first lens -- but I'm blessing the lens.

      About the content... Well, I can say from experience (as a student as well as a teacher) that while some students never entirely outgrow reversals, there may come a time where it doesn't impact their readings. I've seen studies where they've shown that proficient adult readers read through a lot of errors (like letters that have been rearranged deliberately) and don't even notice there's an error; they've learned to make meaning without looking too hard at individual letters. I'm a bit like that; I may reverse numbers sometimes, but not letters -- my 'meaning maker' kicks in. I agree that tactile materials are important for many students. Fostering that built-in meaning maker is another tool.