This is a sampling of common characteristics1 found in those who have dyslexia. A child would need to exhibit several of the signs to be considered a possible dyslexic. Each child is different and unique. The signs below are mainly a compilation of two sites mentioned in the footnote.

Preschoolers

  • Has delayed speech
  • Mixes up sounds and syllables, like “calapittar” and “mazagine”
  • Has chronic ear infections
  • Struggles in understanding directional words (right/left, before/after)
  • Is slow in developing a dominant hand
  • Has difficulty learning to tie his shoes
  • Has more difficulty memorizing things like her phone number, days of the week…
  • Has difficulty understanding the concept of rhyming
  • Has a relative who has dyslexia

Having some of the warning signs above or below does not mean that your child has dyslexia. However, if many of the signs continue past the age of seven, and you have a history of dyslexia in your family, it would be good to have your child tested.

Early School Years

  • Has difficulty writing letters, has odd spacing between words, has trouble keeping letters in the right place on the line (dysgraphia)
  • Has an unusual pencil grip (often a fist grip) and holds the pencil too tight
  • Prints some letters and numbers backwards beyond 1st grade
  • Struggles to learn the names, letters, and sounds in order (i.e., saying a, b, c,…)
  • Has poor written expression
  • Is a poor speller even after studying hard
  • Struggles with math, math facts, adding numbers in a column (problems that require a sequence), but understands math concepts
  • Has a very messy room — struggles to remember where he put things so he leaves everything out, general difficulty organizing things

Reading

  • Skips or misreads small words and suffixes
  • Has difficulty sounding out an unknown word and will often guess at the unknown word with words that are similar or makes sense
  • Tends to read through punctuation without noticing it
  • Reading comprehension is difficult for things they read themselves

Spelling

  • Cannot sound out words so has to memorize words, which is very difficult
  • Can study very hard for a test on Friday morning and still forget the words by later in the day
  • Misspells high-frequency words — has difficulty remembering what the word looks like

Other Warning Signs

  • Doesn’t remember to start a sentence with a capital letter and end with a period or other punctuation
  • Doesn’t understand the difference between a complete sentence and a fragment
  • Doesn’t speak smoothly
  • Hates school

Signs for Later School Years

  • Has a limited vocabulary because she is not reading — needs to be read to
  • Doesn’t know how to organize thoughts so has difficulty with writing assignments — difference between written report and oral report is huge
  • Has extreme difficulty learning a foreign language
  • May be a gifted musician but has difficulty reading music
  • Many will drop out of high school because they do not receive help

Adults with Mild Dyslexia

  • Slow reader — hard to read technical information
  • Poor speller
  • Avoids writing memos or letters
  • Often competent in oral language
  • Still has trouble with left and right (directionality confused), trouble with reading a map
  • Still confuses b and d, mainly when one is hot, tired, sick, or under a lot of stress
  • Average student (Cs) who worked hard for those grades
  • Has difficulty proving intelligence on paper (well-versed on a subject orally)
  • May be good at “reading” people (intuitive)
  • Trouble learning a foreign language (speaking may not be hard, but learning to read, write, and spell in a foreign language is very difficult)

Go to Dyslexia | How to Help Dyslexics | Resources for Learning More about Dyslexia


  1. Information on this page was taken from Bright Solutions and The International Dyslexia Association.