Unlocking Potential for Positive Change - Dyslexia Specialist

Dyslexia: Warning Signs

Dyslexia Warning Signs by Age Group

Early Years
  • Speech Issues
    • Delayed speech (a child should be saying 5-20 words by 18 months)
    • Articulation issues (trouble pronouncing sounds correctly)
      • Especially m, n, r, l, s, and sh sounds
    • Stuttering (this usually goes away)
    • Mixing up the sounds or syllables in words
      • Example: pisghetti instead of spaghetti
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Severe reactions to childhood illnesses
  • Close relative with dyslexia or the signs of it
Pre-School Years
  • Struggles to create rhyming words, despite being able to distinguish rhyming words if they hear them from someone else. This is the #1warning sign at this age level.
  • Constant confusion of directionality like:
    • Left/ right
    • Over/ under
    • Yesterday/ tomorrow
  • Late establishing a dominant hand or is ambidextrous (can use either hand)
  • Trouble with memorization
    • Struggle to memorize the sounds letters make
  • Trouble with sequences and often mix up the correct order of:
    • The alphabet
    • The letters in their name
    • Their phone number and address
    • Days of the week/ months of the year
  • Trouble following multiple instructions given at one time
Elementary School Years
  • Terrible spelling (this is the hallmark sign of dyslexia)
    • Can’t retain spelling words from one week to the next
    • Misspells the same word in different ways
  • Trouble with correct grammar
    • Improper use of capitalization and punctuation
  • Letter and/or number reversals continuing past the first grade (or after two years of formal handwriting experience)
  • Difficulty with reading
    • It is slow and choppy (no fluency)
    • Reads words inaccurately
      • Will say a similar word, but in a different order
        • Example: reads the word from, but pronounces it “form”
      • Will Guess a word based on its shape or first couple of letters
        • Example: house/ horse- both of these words start with a tall letter and are followed by four letters of the same height
    • Skips or misreads prepositions (at, to, of, etc.)
    • Ignores suffixes- the ending sounds of words
    • Unable to sound out, or have difficulty with sounding out unknown words accurately, despite being taught phonics
  • Struggle with sight words (words that have to be memorized since they can’t be sounded out)
    • Examples: they, were, does, etc.
  • Homonym confusion like: their, there, they’re
  • Difficulty telling time with the hands on a clock
  • Difficulty remembering common sayings or say them slightly twisted
  • Trouble remembering a word they want to use when they are speaking
  • Trouble with math
    • Memorizing multiplication facts is very difficult
    • Word problems are tough
    • Greater than/ less than is challenging
  • Trouble copying from the board or near point
  • Extreme difficulty learning cursive
High School Years

All of the before mentioned symptoms plus:

  • Limited vocabulary
  • Extremely poor written expression, especially when compared to their verbal skills
  • Unable to master a foreign language
  • Difficulty reading printed music
  • Poor grades in many classes
  • Difficulty taking notes during lectures
  • Trouble memorizing formulas
Adult Years
  • Did not like school and really struggled
  • Still struggles with reading
    • Very slow
    • Has to read something a few times before they understand it completely
    • Trouble reading instructions, manuals, or documents
  • Very poor spelling and relies on a spell checker
  • Right/ left confusion and can get lost while navigating, even in a familiar setting
  • Have difficulty putting their thoughts onto paper. They dread writing any kind of letter or memo.
  • Will sometimes confuse b & d, especially if they are tired, stressed, or sick

    Please Note:

    A person does not have to have every single warning sign in order to suspect dyslexia; they only need 3, in addition to a family history.

    And since dyslexia is on a spectrum from mild to profound, no two people will have the exact same symptoms.

    If you do not have a diagnosed dyslexic on either side of your family tree, then be sure to look for the adult who has the warning signs listed in the Adult Years section above. Many adults have unidentified dyslexia; don’t let your child become one and struggle through school. Please get them identified and the proper help!


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