Symptoms of Dyslexia


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Symptoms of Dyslexia


Dyslexia is difficulty with language. For people with dyslexia, intelligence is not the problem. The problem is language. Symptoms may appear different in childhood or in adolescence and adulthood.

People with dyslexia may struggle with reading, spelling, understanding language they hear, or expressing themselves clearly in speaking or in writing. An unexpected gap exists between their potential for learning and their school achievement.


General Symptoms of Dyslexia During Childhood

  • Delay in learning tasks such as tying shoes, telling time
  • Difficulty expressing self
  • Inattentiveness, distractability
  • Inability to follow directions
  • Left-right confusion
  • Difficulty learning alphabet, times tables, words of songs
  • Difficulty learning rhymes
  • Poor playground skills
  • Difficulty learning to read
  • Mixing order of letters or numbers when writing
  • Reversing letters or numbers

To suspect a diagnosis of dyslexia, a cluster of symptoms must be evidenced – not just one symptom.

  • No one will have all these symptoms.
  • All people have some of these symptoms.
  • Look for clusters of symptoms.
  • Fact sheets about dyslexia and dysgraphia: General Facts; Parents; Educators; Adults
  • Further readings: Children; Parents; Adults; Professionals

Common Symptoms Specific to Age/Grade Levels


Common Symptoms of Dyslexia: Pre-School Children

The difficulties noted below are often associated with dyslexia if they are unexpected for the individual’s age, educational level, or cognitive abilities. A qualified diagnostician can test a person to determine if he or she is truly dyslexic.

Early recognition of at-risk factors with subsequent intervention may not prevent the development of a later learning difference but can potentially reduce the severity of the difficulty.

  • May talk later than most children.
  • May have difficulty understanding simple directions or trying to remember what you asked.
  • May be unable to follow multi-step directions or routines.
  • May have difficulty pronouncing words, i.e., “busgetti” for “spaghetti”, “mawn lower” for “lawn mower”.
  • May struggle to produce intelligible speech to an unfamiliar listener.
  • May be slow to add new vocabulary words.
  • May not yet be speaking in three- to five-word utterances.
  • May be unable to recall the right word for common vocabulary.
  • May have difficulty with rhyming or knowing which words begin with the same sound.
  • May have trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, colors, shapes, how to spell and write his or her name.
  • Fine motor skills may develop more slowly than in other children.
  • May have difficulty telling and/or retelling a story in the correct sequence.
  • Often has difficulty separating sounds in words and blending sounds to make words.

Sources

  • Basic Facts about Dyslexia: What Every Layperson Ought to Know – © 1993, 2nd ed. 1998. The International Dyslexia Association, Baltimore, MD.
  • Early Childhood Education – © 2000. The International Dyslexia Association, Baltimore MD.
  • Learning Disabilities: Information, Strategies, Resources – © Copyright 2000. Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities, a collaboration of leading U.S. non-profit learning disabilities organizations. Used with permission.

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Common Symptoms of Dyslexia: Kindergarten to 4th Grade Students

The difficulties noted below are often associated with dyslexia if they are unexpected for the individual’s age, educational level, or cognitive abilities. A qualified diagnostician can test a person to determine if he or she is truly dyslexic.

Caution: It is developmentally normal for children to reverse letters and words when they first learn to write. This normally disappears by 2nd grade.

  • May be slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds.
  • Has difficulty decoding single words (reading single words in isolation).
  • Has difficulty spelling phonetically.
  • Makes consistent reading and spelling errors such as:
    • Letter reversals – “d” for “b” as in: “dog” for “bog”
    • Word reversals – “tip” for “pit”
    • Inversions – “m” for “w,” “u” for “n”
    • Transpositions – “felt” for “left”
    • Substitutions – “house” for “home”
  • May confuse small words – “at” for “to,” “said” for “and,” “does” for “goes.”
  • Relies on guessing and context.
  • May have difficulty learning new vocabulary.
  • May transpose number sequences and confuse arithmetic signs (+ – x / =).
  • May have trouble remembering facts.
  • May be slow to learn new skills; relies heavily on memorizing without understanding.
  • May have difficulty planning, organizing and managing time, materials and tasks.
  • Often uses an awkward pencil grip (fist, thumb hooked over fingers, etc.).
  • May have poor “fine motor” coordination and/or struggles to perform sequential motor tasks, such as tying shoes.

Sources

  • Basic Facts about Dyslexia: What Every Layperson Ought to Know – © Copyright 1993, 2nd ed. 1998. The International Dyslexia Association, Baltimore, MD.
  • Learning Disabilities: Information, Strategies, Resources – © Copyright 2000. Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities, a collaboration of leading U.S. non-profit learning disabilities organizations. Used with permission.

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Common Symptoms of Dyslexia: 5th to 8th Grade Students

The difficulties noted below are often associated with dyslexia if they are unexpected for the individual’s age, educational level, or cognitive abilities. A qualified diagnostician can test a person to determine if he or she is truly dyslexic.

  • Is usually reading below grade level.
  • May reverse letter sequences – “soiled” for “solid,” “left” for “felt.”
  • May be slow to discern and to learn prefixes, suffixes, root words, and other reading and spelling strategies.
  • May have difficulty spelling; spells same word differently on the same page.
  • May avoid reading aloud.
  • May have trouble with word problems in math.
  • May write with difficulty with illegible handwriting; pencil grip is awkward, fist-like or tight.
  • May avoid writing.
  • May have difficulty with written composition.
  • May have slow or poor recall of facts.
  • May have difficulty with comprehension.
  • May have trouble with non-literal language (idioms, jokes, proverbs, slang).
  • May have difficulty with planning, organizing and managing time, materials and tasks.

Sources

  • Basic Facts about Dyslexia: What Every Layperson Ought to Know – © Copyright 1993, 2nd ed. 1998. The International Dyslexia Association, Baltimore, MD.
  • Learning Disabilities: Information, Strategies, Resources – © Copyright 2000. Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities, a collaboration of leading U.S. non-profit learning disabilities organizations. Used with permission.

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Common Symptoms of Dyslexia: Adolescents (High School & College)

The difficulties noted below are often associated with dyslexia if they are unexpected for the individual’s age, educational level, or cognitive abilities. A qualified diagnostician can test a person to determine if he or she is truly dyslexic.

  • Difficulty processing auditory information
  • Losing possessions; poor organization skills
  • Slow reading
  • Low reading comprehension
  • Difficulty remembering names of people and places
  • Hesitant speech
  • Difficulty finding appropriate words
  • Difficulty organizing ideas to write a letter or paper
  • Poor spelling
  • Inability to recall numbers in proper sequences (as in phone numbers)
  • Lowered self-esteem due to past frustrations and failures
  • Poor ability to find way around and trouble finding car in parking lot OR excellent ability to find way around

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Common Symptoms of Dyslexia: Adults

The difficulties noted below are often associated with dyslexia if they are unexpected for the individual’s age, educational level, or cognitive abilities. A qualified diagnostician can test a person to determine if he or she is truly dyslexic.

  • May hide reading problems.
  • May spell poorly; relies on others to correct spelling.
  • Avoids writing; may not be able to write.
  • Often very competent in oral language.
  • Relies on memory; may have an excellent memory.
  • Often has good “people” skills.
  • Often is spatially talented; professions include, but are not limited, to engineers, architects, designers, artists and craftspeople, mathematicians, physicists, physicians (esp. surgeons and orthopedists), and dentists.
  • May be very good at “reading” people (is intuitive and sensitive to others).
  • In jobs may be working well below their intellectual capacity.
  • May have difficulty with planning, organization, and management of time, materials and tasks.
  • Often become entrepreneurs.

Sources

  • Basic Facts about Dyslexia: What Every Layperson Ought to Know – © Copyright 1993, 2nd ed. 1998. The International Dyslexia Association, Baltimore, MD.
  • Learning Disabilities: Information, Strategies, Resources – © Copyright 2000. Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities, a collaboration of leading U.S. non-profit learning disabilities organizations. Used with permission.

Back to Symptoms by Age Menu


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