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What are the Symptoms of Dyslexia?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Dyslexia is a condition that affects reading, writing, and spelling abilities and it can have numerous symptoms. What is important to recognize about this learning disability is that symptoms of dyslexia tend to vary by age group. They also can be present to smaller or greater degree among individuals, and they’re not always caught by teachers or parents. Moreover, symptoms of dyslexia could suggest other learning disabilities, and while it’s important to get people tested for the disorder when it’s suspected, testing doesn’t always end in diagnosis of dyslexia. Another factor to bear in mind, especially when looking for this condition in young children, is that children may reach developmental milestones at different times without having any learning disabilities.

Some symptoms of dyslexia that might be noted in preschool children include delays in learning to talk or pronunciation that flips sounds in words. Remember that children commonly make word mistakes as they learn to talk, and alone these two symptoms don’t necessarily represent a dyslexic child. Other things like poor memory of words or inability to remember words could also be present. Memory might particularly affect things like learning the days of the week, the months, numbers, or the names of shapes. Another of the possible symptoms of dyslexia at this age could include delayed fine motor development.

As children go to school, symptoms of dyslexia could become more prominent. Reading skills might be very difficult to acquire, and children could have trouble writing. Penmanship may be poor and there are common letter transpositions that dyslexic children tend to make such as p and q and d and b. Again, note as most kids first learn to write, it’s not uncommon for these letters to be transposed, but transposition might continue in the dyslexic child well into the higher grades. When dyslexic kids are reading they may mix up words that have the same letters too.

Greater demand to read and write more fluently begins as children reach the later parts of elementary school, and here it’s not uncommon for kids to begin to fall behind in grades. Spelling becomes a real chore and things like reading comprehension suggest that not all material is being mastered. The undiagnosed child is at great risk here, because they are often quite intelligent kids who can’t seem to get a handle on school in the same way their peers do. They may be begin behaving in ways that tend toward avoiding notice, and might especially avoid any reading aloud tasks or answering questions in class.

It ought to be noted that given standardized testing in many schools the child with dyslexia in upper grades continuing to high school isn’t likely to go without attention. It may be difficult or impossible to master high school and college level material, though some students do despite not having had a diagnosis. Things like written portions of SAT tests or high school exit exams may catch more students too.

Those who do manage college have usually evolved many skills to cope with their learning disability, and these could include being fine observers of the reactions of others, having strong memories, and being very articulate. Yet adults with symptoms of dyslexia might also never read, might have jobs that aren’t on par with their intellectual capacity, and may still feel they need to hide their deficiencies out of habit. It can be particularly challenging for the dyslexic parent to help school-aged kids with things like homework.

Given the clear symptoms of dyslexia, it’s hard to believe it ever gets missed in schools. However, it isn’t always caught, though schools are certainly getting better about looking for it. The shame of it is that dyslexic people have normal or above normal intelligence, but may be made to feel that they are really not very smart after repeated failures in school. Catching this condition early can be a triumph, since there are lots of ways to help people overcome this issue and go on to great success in school and work.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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