Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. According to our dyslexia specialist Lois Hood, dyslexia can come in many forms. She says it is important when looking for signs to bear in mind the following:

– Bright children can be dyslexic
– Not so bright children can be dyslexic
– Dyslexia can be severe
– Dyslexia can be mild
– It often co-occurs with other difficulties which can also fog the view

So what should you look for?


A child whose oral skills are good but can’t get their ideas on to paper
A child who just can’t get anything down on paper
A child, who despite all efforts, just doesn’t learn to read

GENERAL signs to look for:

The following are some ideas which mostly come from the British Dyslexia Association to help teachers spot children who may be dyslexic.
Slow speed of processing: spoken and/or written language. One example of this might be a child finding it difficult to think of the name of an object.
Poor concentration
Difficulty in carrying out more than one instruction at a time
Forgetful of words

WRITING – Look out for these issues:

Reluctance to begin writing task or delaying tactics
Poor standard of written work compared with oral ability
Difficulty with structuring a text and there can also be a difficulty in using something like a mind map
Messy work with many crossings out and words tried several times, eg wippe, wype, wiep, wipe
Badly structured written work; inability to stay close to the margin
Persistently confused by letters which look similar, particularly b/d, p/g, p/q, n/u, m/w
Poor handwriting with many ‘reversals’ and badly formed letters
Handwriting may be neat when copying but this breaks down under pressure; for example, when the focus is on composition
Spells a word several different ways in one piece of writing
Makes anagrams of words, eg tired for tried, breaded for bearded
Poor pencil grip
Produces phonetic and bizarre spelling: not age/ability appropriate
Unusual sequencing of letters or words
Lack of, or indiscriminate use of punctation
Indiscriminate use of upper case letters usually because the dyslexic feels more secure with the capital form


Poor reading progress, especially using look and say methods
Difficulties blending letters together
Difficulty in establishing syllable division or knowing the beginnings and endings of words; syllables could be missed out
Pronunciation of words unusual
Confusion with reading similar looking words: on/no; for/of; off/from
Wrong choice of letters due to poor auditory discrimination – especially vowel sounds and t/d; p/d; m/n
Hesitant and laboured in reading, especially when reading aloud
Misses out words when reading, or adds extra words
Fails to recognise familiar words
Loses the point of a story being read or written
Difficulty picking out the most important points from a passage


Reversing numbers – both numbers being the wrong way round as well as, e.g. 25 being 52
Confusion with number order, eg units, tens, hundreds
Confused by symbols such as + and x signs
Difficulty remembering anything in a sequential order, eg tables, days of the week, the alphabet
Difficulty with performing mental maths because of short-term memory


Difficulty in learning to tell the time
Poor time keeping and general awareness
Poor personal organisation
Difficulty remembering what day of the week it is, their birth date, seasons of the year, months of the year
Difficulty with concepts – yesterday, today, tomorrow

You may also wish to consider SKILLS:

Poor motor skills – leading to weaknesses in speed, control and accuracy of the pencil
Limited understanding of non-verbal communication
Confused by the difference between left and right, up and down, east and west
Indeterminate hand preference
Performs unevenly from day to day
Organisation issues


Employs work avoidance tactics, such as sharpening pencils and looking for books
Seems to ‘dream’, does not seem to listen
Easily distracted
Excessively tired due to amount of concentration and effort required
Disruptive, withdrawn or class clown (these are often cries for help)
If you can identify any of these signs in your child, you may wish to explore the possibility that they could be dyslexic. There is a wealth of advice on how experts assess dyslexia on our website here. Feel free to call us on 0207 350 1981 to find out more information, or to set up a meeting with one of our specialist dyslexia assessors

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