People usually connect dyslexia with symptoms like poor reading, confusing letter shapes, and having problems with spelling. But there are many more (less known) symptoms of dyslexia, and dyslexia itself is a much broader disability – not just a reading one.
And remember, if you spot symptoms of dyslexia, you’ll do your kid a world of good by acting proactively and get help right away.
Dyslexia symptoms in babies and preschoolers (<3 year-olds)
Although dyslexia usually isn’t diagnosed until much later in a child’s life, you can check for symptoms (or at least indications) pretty early. Every toddler develops at their own pace, but there are still some signs that can indicate dyslexia, especially if you have a history of the disability in the family.
Dyslexia is genetic, so try to understand if someone in the family had issues reading, understanding texts, problems with letter reversals,… Maybe this person wasn’t diagnosed, as it often happened in the past, but has suffered from these symptoms throughout their life. If you find somebody that had issues, here are some of the things to look out for in babies and preschoolers:
- not recognizing the letters in their name
- problems with rhyming
- not using the right word for specific objects
- difficulty with sequences, like following directions, or reciting the alphabet
Symptoms of dyslexia in early elementary school pupils (4 to 6 year-olds)
Symptoms of dyslexia start getting more and more obvious when a child enters elementary school. That is because that’s when they start to learn to read and reading is where dyslexia symptoms are the most obvious.
Additionally, teachers work with the kids more, so they can spot the issues as well. Often, teachers are those who are the first to spot troubles. But so you don’t have to wait for your teacher’s opinion, here is what to look for:
- Having trouble learning letter names
- Remembering the sounds letters make and connecting letters to sounds
- Often confusing letters that look similar (like b, d, p, and q)
- Often confusing letters that sound similar (like f and v, b and p, or d and t)
- Struggling to read familiar words (like the word bat)
- Reading seemingly improved when there are pictures next to text
- Substituting words when reading aloud, like saying mouse when the story says, mum
- Having trouble remembering how words are spelled
Dyslexia symptoms in elementary school pupils (7 to 9 year-olds)
Dyslexia does not get better with age. Children do not simply outgrow it. So if your kid had early issues and didn’t receive proper help, their symptoms will continue to evolve to those mentioned below:
- Confusing or skipping small words like for and of when reading aloud
- Having problems sounding out unknown words
- Having trouble recognizing sight words
- Struggling to explain what happened in a story or answer questions about key details
- Frequently reversing letters
- Having poor spelling, like spelling the same word correctly and incorrectly in the same exercise
- Avoiding reading whenever possible or getting frustrated or upset when reading
The biggest issue with children in elementary school is that their defense mechanisms start to kick in. Because they don’t like reading they start to avoid it. Which leads to them practicing less and less.
Now additional psychological problems start to appear. Children avoid situations where they could be judged because there ‘is something wrong with them’. It is important to show your kid they are in a safe environment where nobody is judging them. Help them overcome the psychological barriers so they can improve the underlying problems.
Dyslexia symptoms in teens & adults
If dyslexia doesn’t get attention through elementary school, it will leave consequences throughout your kid’s life. Keep in mind there are programs that help adults with dyslexia. Although they are more focused on coping mechanisms and workarounds, these programs can still help with the issues. Here are some symptoms of dyslexia in teens and adults:
- Slow reading, especially when reading aloud
- Leaving out words when reading aloud
- Difficulty remembering common abbreviations
- Often searching for words or using easier substitutes
- Often not “getting” the joke or having trouble understanding idioms and puns
- Taking a long time to complete reading assignments
- Having an easier time answering questions about a page of text if it’s read aloud
Getting help early is key
There is no cure for dyslexia. But being proactive, acting early, and finding the solutions that work for your kid can make a huge difference in your kid’s life. Find a teacher that’s prepared to work with you, work together and support your struggling reader. Show them they can and will make it. A positive attitude it’s what makes the world of difference.