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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Dyslexia?

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Dyslexia is a learning disorder that might affect both children and adults equally and can be treated only when diagnosed on time. Knowing the symptoms, you can support the individual by building resilience, challenging negative thoughts and following other supportive techniques.

Signs of dyslexia are difficult to recognise. Actually, there are no particular symptoms to understand the learning disability in a person. However, there are a few clues like late talking, problems in remembering letters, difficulty in reading and so on that might indicate a problem.

To understand the signs and symptoms of dyslexia, let us first understand this learning disability in detail. 

What is Dyslexia?

Generally, most people consider dyslexia as a challenge with reading. However, it is more than just a reading disability. Actually, it is a learning disorder due to challenges in identifying speech and decoding letters or words.

Dyslexia can be referred to as a problem with language as this disorder affects the part of the brain that processes language. Though this disorder affects children the most, it can also be found among teens and adults, with different symptoms and varying degrees of severity.

Individuals with this disorder might face challenges with writing, speaking and spelling as well. So, the signs of dyslexia can show up in many areas, not just reading. Not all individuals with this learning disorder struggle in the same way.

So, even if your child is facing trouble with rhyming, it can be a sign of dyslexia. As there is no particular symptom to recognise dyslexia, it can go undiagnosed for years and affect a child’s academic and social growth. 

Many people connect this disorder with intelligence, which is a myth. Dyslexia is a neurological disorder that hampers language processing by the brain. Despite its neurological basis, this condition cannot be diagnosed with a scan, MRI or blood test. As there are varied signs and symptoms, doctors diagnose this disorder by considering the signs and behaviour reported by the individual, parents, caregivers and teachers. 

Signs and Symptoms of Dyslexia 

As mentioned earlier, it can be truly challenging for parents, teachers and caregivers to determine if a child has dyslexia. However, they can detect early signs and consult healthcare professionals to diagnose the disorder further. As the signs and severity vary with person and age, we have categorised the symptoms according to the individual’s age. 

The Preschool Years

The earliest signs of this disorder appear when a kid first learns to make a sound. Thus, the symptoms of dyslexia can emerge at the age of 1-2 years. So, if a child is unable to utter his first words until 1.5 years of age or first sentences until 2 years, they have a higher chance of developing this disorder.

However, it doesn’t mean that all cases of speech delay develop dyslexia. Also, not all children with this disorder have speech delays. Remember, it’s just a clue that you must pay attention to in your child’s language development. 

Children with a family history of dyslexia can also develop this disorder and thus, must be monitored closely. Some of the common signs that develop in the preschool years are as follows:

  • Trouble in learning the alphabet
  • Delayed speech development
  • Mispronunciation or jumbling up words like pronouncing “hecilopter” instead of “helicopter”
  • Difficulty in learning rhyming patterns
  • Trouble in expressing themselves

Kindergarten Years

Around the age of 4 or 5 years, as children begin to read and write, the symptoms of dyslexia become more prominent. Thus, young children at risk of learning disabilities can be easily identified in kindergarten.

As there is no such test that can determine this disorder, class teachers play a very important role in recognising the symptoms. Further, a doctor can help you to evaluate the disorder according to symptoms and behaviour reported by the teacher.

Some of the dyslexia signs that can be found in a kindergartener include:

  • Trouble in remembering the letter names or the sounds they make
  • Makes the sound of letters that are not connected
  • Recognise rhyming patterns
  • Finding hard to read
  • Struggle to read familiar words
  • Poor spelling
  • Poor phonological awareness
  • Often forgetting spelling rules
  • Trouble in speaking and pronunciation
  • Not willing to attend school

Second through Eighth Grade

If not recognised early, it becomes tough for both parents and teachers to acknowledge dyslexia signs in elementary school students. As a child grows up, they learn the cracks through which they easily hide their disorders. There are many teachers who are not trained to recognise this disorder and thus, intelligent students often find ways to slip through the cracks. However, as they reach middle school, they fall behind their peers and struggle to read, write and spell properly.

Dyslexia signs in middle school students are as follows: 

  • Slow learner
  • Reads slowly and awkwardly compare to other children of the same age group
  • Trouble in learning and pronouncing new words
  • Shy to read out loud
  • Uses inexact and inaccurate vocabulary
  • Uses “umms” while speaking 
  • Mispronounce complex or long words
  • Finds difficult to remember names and dates

Young Adulthood

When students with dyslexia enter high school or college, they come across a new set of challenges. As the standard of academics keeps growing complex with each promotion to the next grade, students with this learning disorder find it increasingly difficult to comprehend the information and facts.

In a school setting like high school or college, students are given more assignments and projects, and thus, dyslexic individuals face serious academic challenges. They struggle to meet the expectations of different teachers. If not diagnosed at an early age, the disorder continues into young adulthood.

Some of the common dyslexia signs that can be recognised in young adults are: 

  • Reads slowly
  • Leaves out small words in between a sentence while reading aloud
  • Hardly remembers common abbreviations
  • Hesitate to speak in public
  • Uses lots of “umms”
  • Often uses vague language
  • Struggles to remember names of places and persons
  • Pronounces names and places wrong
  • Struggles to understand puns and idioms
  • Takes longer to complete assignments or projects
  • Does not respond quickly
  • Has limited knowledge about vocabulary
  • Struggles to answer multiple-choice questions

Dyslexia in Adults

Though it’s very tough to recognise dyslexia in adults, they too have a few symptoms that make it challenging for them to lead a normal life. According to a study, around 5-10%  of the population have this disorder.

In most cases, people are never diagnosed with this learning disability. So, being an adult, if you still struggle to read easily, there’s a chance that you have dyslexia. Some of the signs of dyslexia in adults are as follows:

  • Struggles to read a paragraph
  • Does not enjoy reading 
  • Hesitates to read out loud in public
  • Struggles to understand puns and jokes
  • Struggles to memorise or repeat a task
  • Faces time management issues
  • Finds it difficult to summarise what is read
  • Struggles to do mathematics

Resources for Dyslexia

Here are some places to find more information and resources about dyslexia.

International Dyslexia Association

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) aims to provide education and do advocacy work around dyslexia.

SPELD Australia and SPELD New Zealand

SPELD is a not-for-profit organisation that support children and adults with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.


To deal with dyslexia, it’s important to intervene early. Parents should reach out to their children’s schools and talk to their teachers about their reading and learning level. Also, do not hesitate to get the teacher’s opinions about their behaviour at school.

If your child is struggling to learn, read or speak as they should, consider consulting a paediatrician. As there’s no such test to determine this disorder, doctors might take time to diagnose dyslexia. A thorough assessment can help you to find the actual causes of learning difficulties and help your child improve the condition effectively.


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