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Common signs of Dyslexia

Not every sign or symptom of the dyslexic profile presents itself in each dyslexic person, although there is usually evidence of a sufficient cluster of these to lead to a diagnosis. It should be noted that dyslexia tends to run in families, so there may be a history of it. Asking parents however may not be enough, as often a parent will not have recognised it when he/she was at school. Many only realise the condition once their children are diagnosed.

Signs of Dyslexia in Pre-School Children

  • History of slow speech development.
  • Difficulty learning nursery rhymes.
  • Finds phonological difficulty with the selection of the odd one out e.g. cat: pig: fat.
  • Slow in name finding.
  • Some dyslexic children enjoy being read to, but show no interest in letters or words. Others have patience for sitting and listening.
  • Difficulty with two or more instructions at one time (due to weak memory system) but well able to carry out tasks when presented in smaller units.
  • Difficulty keeping simple rhythm.
  • May not crawl but walks early.
  • Persistent difficulty in dressing.
  • Difficulty with shoe laces, buttons, clothes the right way around.
  • Difficulty with catching, kicking or throwing a ball.
  • Difficulty with hopping and skipping.
  • Excessive tripping, bumping into things and falling over things.
  • Difficulty with distinguishing left from right.

Signs of Dyslexia in Primary School Children

  • Personal organisation poor.
  • Poor time keeping and awareness.
  • Difficulty in remembering what day of the week it is, birth date, seasons of the year, month of the year.
  • Difficulty in learning to tell the time.
  • Difficulty remembering anything in sequential order, e.g. days of the week, the alphabet, times tables, foreign languages.
  • Poor reading progress, particularly on look-and-say methods. An inability to blend letters together.
  • Difficulty in establishing syllable division, beginnings and endings of words synthesis and analysis of words.
  • Hesitant and laboured reading, especially when reading aloud, often misses out words or adds extra words or fails to recognise familiar words.
  • Making anagrams of words, e.g. tired, for tried, breaded for bearded.
  • Undetermined hand preference.
  • Confusion between left and right.
  • Poor handwriting with many reversals and badly formed letters.
  • Difficulty in picking out the most important points from a passage.
  • Poor standard of written work in comparison with oral ability.
  • Losing the point of the story being written or read. Messy work with many crossings out, and words repeated several times e.g. wipe, wype, wiep, wipe.
  • Persistent confusion with letters which look similar, particularly b/d/, p/q,n/u,m/w.
  • Confusion with number order, e.g. plus and minus. A word spelt several different ways in one piece of writing. Badly set out written work, inability to stay close to the margin.
  • Seems to dream, does not seem to listen.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Limited understanding of non-verbal communication.
  • Performs unevenly day to day.
  • Excessive tiredness due to the amount of concentration and effort required.

Dyslexia in secondary school and beyond

Many intelligent young people remain unaware that they are dyslexic or are able to conceal their difficulties. The situation can change rapidly once they enter secondary school, but sometimes will not become apparent until they are taking advanced courses or performing examinations.

Their high level of intelligence acts like a mask, covering their difficulties until tasks reach a high enough level that their coping mechanisms will no longer work. With more required reading, specialised writing, multiple tasks needing time management and limited time for completing tasks, it is no wonder that a person with a learning impediment will begin to struggle.

Common signs of Dyslexia in teenagers/students

  • Reads slowly with many inaccuracies
  • Continues to spell incorrectly, frequently spells the same word differently in a single piece of writing.
  • May avoid reading and writing tasks.
  • May have trouble summarizing or outlining.
  • Has trouble answering open-ended questions on tests.
  • Works slowly and may struggle to keep up in class.
  • Shows poor memory skills.
  • Struggles to learn foreign languages.
  • May misread information.
  • May have difficulty with planning, organising and managing time, material and tasks.


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