The signs and symptoms of dyslexia differ between each person. Each individual who is afflicted will have unique strengths and unique weaknesses. Read the list below to find some common symptoms and signs of dyslexia, across people of all ages.

Children In Preschool

It is occasionally possible to tell if your preschool-aged child has dyslexia. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Delayed speech development when compared to other children similar in age
  • Speech problems, including pronouncing long words incorrectly and “jumbling up” words and phrases (for example, saying flutterby instead of butterfly)
  • Problems expressing themselves using spoken language, like being unable to remember the proper word to use, or putting sentences together inaccurately
  • Difficulties with and/or little interest in learning the letters of the alphabet
  • Little appreciation or understanding of rhyming words (such as the dog and the frog were on the log) or of nursery rhymes

Children Aged 5-12

Schoolchildren have a different set of signs and symptoms of dyslexia than those in preschool. These symptoms generally become more obvious, and focus more on learning how to read and write:

  • Problems learning the names and sounds of letters
  • Unpredictable and inconsistent spelling
  • Confusing the orders of letters in words
  • Putting letters and numbers the wrong way (for example, writing a p instead of a q, or a b instead of a d)
  • Reading slowly
  • Making errors when reading out loud
  • Visual disturbances when reading, like describing letters or words as “moving around” when they are reading, or “appearing blurry”
  • Answering questions orally without issue, but having problems with answering questions that must be written down
  • Difficulty carrying out directions
  • Struggling to learn sequences, like the alphabet or days of the week
  • Poor handwriting
  • Slow writing speed
  • Issues copying written language
  • Completing written work slower than should be expected
  • Poor phonological awareness and word attack skills

Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness is recognizing that words that are made up of smaller units (called phonemes), and that manipulating or changing phonemes can create new words. A child with poor phonological awareness may not be able to answer questions such as:

  • What sounds do you think make up the word sand, and are these different from the sounds that make up the word hand?
  • What word would you have if you changed the b in bin to an f sound?
  • How many words can you think of that rhyme with the word run?

Word Attack Skills

A child with good word attack skills has the ability to understand unknown words by looking for smaller words or collections of letters that a child already knows.

As an example, a child with good word attack skills could break down the word firefighter for the first time and understand the word by breaking it down into fire and fight and er.

Adults and Teenagers

In addition to the symptoms listed above, adults and teenagers can have the following symptoms and signs of dyslexia:

  • Poorly organized written work that lacks expression (as an example, a person may be extremely knowledgeable about a subject, and be able to discuss it at length, but cannot express that knowledge in writing)
  • Difficulties revising for exams
  • Difficulties in planning and writing essays, reports, letters, etc.
  • Trying to avoid reading and writing when possible
  • Difficulty copying or taking notes
  • Struggling to remember things, such as a phone or PIN number
  • Struggling to meet deadlines
  • Poor spelling

How Can I Get Help?

If you are concerned with your child’s abilities to read or write, talk to their teacher first.

If there is an ongoing concern, take your child to their doctor, so they can check for underlying health issues that can affect their ability to learn, such as visual or auditory issues.

If there are no underlying problems, different methods of teaching should be tried. You may also want to request some assessments to potentially identify any special needs your child may have.

If you are an adult and think you may have dyslexia, schedule an appointment at your local dyslexia association for a dyslexia assessment.

Problems Associated With Dyslexia

Some individuals with dyslexia may have other problems that are not related to reading or writing. Some common problems include:

  • Difficulties with numbers (and potentially dyscalculia)
  • Poor organization, short-term memory, and time management
  • Problems concentrating and a short attention span (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also called ADHD)
  • Physical coordination problems (developmental co-ordination disorder, also called DCD or dyspraxia)
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