Whether you are a parent, teacher, dyslexic adult, or employer, here is some information taken from the British Dyslexia Association to help you spot signs of Dyslexia. If you can see several of these indications, you may want to consider a formal assessment and contemplate specialist help either at home or school.  For more information about assessments or specialist help please call Simply Learning Tuition on 0207 350 1981.

1. Persisting Factors – obvious from an early age and continue to exist:

· Obvious ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days, for no apparent reason

· Confusion between directional words, e.g up/down, in/out

· Difficulty with sequencing, e.g. coloured bead sequence, later with days of the week or numbers

· A family history of dyslexia/reading difficulties.

2. Pre-school

Language indicators:

· Has persistent jumbled phrases, e.g. ‘cobbler’s club’ for ‘toddler’s club’

· Use of substitute words e.g. ‘lampshade’ for ‘lamppost’

· Inability to remember the label for known objects, e.g. ‘table, chair’

· Difficulty learning nursery rhymes and rhyming words, e.g. ‘cat, mat, sat’

· Later than expected speech development

Pre-school non-language indicators:

· May have walked early but did not crawl – was a ‘bottom shuffler’ or ‘tummy wriggler’

· Persistent difficulties in getting dressed efficiently and putting shoes on the correct feet

· Enjoys being read to but shows no interest in letters or words

· Is often accused of not listening or paying attention

· Excessive tripping, bumping into things and falling over

· Difficulty with catching, kicking or throwing a ball; with hopping and/or skipping

· Difficulty with clapping a simple rhythm

3. Primary school

Language indicators:

· Has particular difficulty with reading and spelling

· Puts letters and figures the wrong way round

· Has difficulty remembering tables, alphabet, formulae etc.

· Leaves letters out of words or puts them in the wrong order

· Still occasionally confuses ‘b’ and ‘d’ and words such as ‘no/on’

· Still needs to use fingers or marks on paper to make simple calculations

· Poor concentration

· Has problems understanding what he/she has read

· Takes longer than average to do written work

· Problems processing language at speed

Primary school non-language indicators:

· Has difficulty with tying shoe laces, tie, dressing.

· Has difficulty telling left from right, order of days of the week, months of the year etc.

· Surprises you because in other ways he/she is bright and alert

· Has a poor sense of direction and still confuses left and right

· Lacks confidence and has a poor self-image

4. Secondary School

Language indicators as for primary schools, plus:

· Still reads inaccurately

· Still has difficulties in spelling

· Needs to have instructions and telephone numbers repeated

· Gets ‘tied up’ using long words, e.g. ‘preliminary’, ‘philosophical’

· Confuses places, times, dates

· Has difficulty with planning and writing essays

· Has difficulty processing complex language or long series of instructions at speed

Aged 12 or over non-language indicators:

· Has poor confidence and self-esteem

· Has areas of strength as well as weakness

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.  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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