Indications of Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. According to dyslexia specialist Lois Hood, dyslexia can come in many forms. She says it is important when looking for signs to bear in mind that: bright children can be dyslexic; not so bright children can be dyslexic; dyslexia can be severe; dyslexia can be mild; and, dyslexia often co-occurs with other difficulties that can also fog the view. So what should you look for? This page will take you through the key indicators of Dyslexia from the British Dyslexia Association.

If you can see several of these signs in your child, a formal assessment may be beneficial. Our education consultants can organise these tests for you. For more information, please visit our Academic Assessments page.

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1. The Persisting Factors

These factors are obvious from an early age and will continue to exist.

Obvious ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days, for no apparent reason Difficulty with sequencing, e.g. coloured bead sequence, later with days of the week or numbers
Confusion between directional words, e.g up/down, in/out A family history of dyslexia/reading difficulties.

2. Pre-Prep Signs

Language Indicators:

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

3. Primary School Indicators

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

Non-Language Indicators

Has difficulty with tying shoe laces, ties or dressing Surprises you because in other ways he/she is bright and alert
Has difficulty telling left from right, order of days of the week and months of the year Has a poor sense of direction and still confuses left and right

4. Secondary School Signs

Language Indicators

These will be the same as 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 and dates Has difficulty with planning and writing essays

Aged 12 or over non-language indicators:

Has poor confidence and self-esteem Has areas of strength as well as weakness

5. General Signs

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 Difficulty in carrying out more than one instruction at a time
Poor concentration Forgetful of words

6. Writing Indicators

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, for example wippe, wype, wiep and 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 and m/w
Poor handwriting with many ‘reversals’ and badly formed letters Makes anagrams of words, eg tired for tried, breaded for bearded
Spells a word several different ways in one piece of writing 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 Handwriting may be neat when copying but this breaks down under pressure; for example, when the focus is on composition

7. Reading Signs

Poor reading progress, especially using look and say methods Difficulties blending letters together
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

8. Math Indicators

Reversing numbers – both numbers being the wrong way round as well as, e.g. 25 being 52 Confusion with number order, for example units, tens and hundreds
Confused by symbols such as + and x signs Difficulty with performing mental maths because of short-term memory

9. Time Signs

Difficulty in learning to tell the time Poor personal organisation
Poor time keeping and general awareness Difficulty with concepts – yesterday, today, tomorrow

10. Skills Indicators

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

11. Behavioural Signs

Employs work avoidance tactics, such as sharpening pencils and looking for books Seems to ‘dream’, does not seem to listen and is easily distracted
Excessively tired due to amount of concentration and effort required Disruptive, withdrawn or class clown (these are often cries for help)


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