What Are the Characteristics of Dyslexia?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Images By: Kozini, Richard Elzey
  • Last Modified Date: 12 May 2020
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The characteristics of dyslexia often have to do with an inability to recognize the sounds represented by letters and groups of letters, such that people with dyslexia often have trouble translating a written word into its oral sound components. One of the primary characteristics of dyslexia, therefore, is frequent confusion between similar-looking and similar-sounding words and letters. As a result, people with dyslexia often have problems reading and writing, in that they often misspell words, or leave out letters and syllables from words, or get some words mixed up with others. Additional characteristics of dyslexia include problems with short-term memory, especially problems remembering lists and sequences. People with dyslexia may be clumsy, disorganized, have trouble concentrating, and have trouble managing their time.

Experts believe that children with dyslexia usually learn to talk later than their non-dyslexic peers, and may begin to display some of the common characteristics of dyslexia very early in life, even before starting school. They may struggle to retain basic information, such as their address. They may fail to enjoy rhymes. They often have problems following instructions, since their short term memories often don't function well enough to help them retain this information.

Often, the characteristics of dyslexia become apparent when the child starts school. Though experts aren't yet sure what causes dyslexia, they believe it may be the result of differences in the way the dyslexic brain processes written and spoke language. People with dyslexia typically struggle to understand how letters symbolize various sounds in oral language. Since they have trouble understanding lists and sequences, they may grapple with the basics of language, such as learning the alphabet. Short-term memory problems can make words and sentences difficult to understand, since it can be difficult for people with dyslexia to retain the all of the words of a sentence until they finish reading it.

People with dyslexia often mix up similar-looking and similar-sounding words and letters. Dyslexic people can even mix up words and letters that don't seem particularly similar to the non-dyslexic person. They often have problems remembering how to spell words, and may especially struggle to maintain words that have irregular pronunciations and are typically spelled by sight. Problems with reading can make it difficult for people with dyslexia to comprehend the meaning of what they read, and it can be difficult for them to understand the basic rules of spelling, conjugation, and word construction.


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