The following are symptoms of dyslexia. A person does not have to have all symptoms to be dyslexic and likewise a person having one or two of these symptoms isn’t necessarily dyslexic.
I have ordered the symptoms into ages to help you relate to difficulties you may have experienced when you were younger. However symptoms encountered by 7 year olds may also be symptoms encountered by adults with dyslexia.
- Delayed speech – not saying any words by the time they are one and not really talking until they are two and a half or older.
- Problems with pronunciation and mixing up sounds in multi- syllabic words such as aminal for animal, mazageen for magazine.
- Problems with rhyming words (this is one of the biggest indicators) and learning rhymes.
- Difficulty with learning shapes, colours and how to write their own name.
- Difficulty with retelling a story in the right order of events.
- Lots of ear or throat infections
- Forgets names of common words or people
- Finds it difficult to throw, catch or kick a ball.
- Reads below their expected level.
- Doesn’t like reading books.
- Tries to avoid reading aloud in class.
- When reading aloud reads very slowly and often ignores punctuation.
- Often has difficulty separating sounds in words and blending sounds to make words.
- Can read a word on one page but doesn’t recognise it on the next.
- When they misread a word it will often be one that looks visually similar, with the same letters such as ‘form’ and ‘from’ or change the sequence of letters in a word such as ‘who’ for ‘how’.
- Problems with reading a single word in isolation, where there are no picture clues or storyline to assist.
- When reading will often lose their place on a line or skip lines.
- When reading a sentence or a story will often substitute word that make sense but doesn’t look at all similar, for example ‘car’ for ‘bus’ or ‘ship’ for ‘boat’
- Often misreads or omits small words, for example: and, the, as, of, from.
- Spelling ability is normally far worse than their reading ability.
- Spelling attempts can be bizarre.
- Regularly confuses certain letters when writing, such as‘d’ and ‘b’ or ‘u’ and ‘n’ which is a classic symptom and relates to the whole problem that many dyslexics have with left and right.
- When writing ‘b’ or ‘d’ they will often use an upper case ‘B’ or ‘D’.
- Regularly writes words backwards, such as writing ‘pot’ instead of ‘top.’ Or transpose, for example ‘left’ for ‘felt’.
- Problems with grammar, such as learning prefixes or suffixes.
- Can learn words for spelling tests at school and achieve 10 out of 10. But a day later they misspell the same words in their free writing.
- Find copying from the board very difficult and will frequently lose their place and misspell words.
- Work is often very messy with many crossings out.
- Has poor pencil grip with a tendency to grab the pencil.
- Writes slowly and handwriting poor.
- Forms letters from the wrong place and often has trouble making the letters sit on the line.
- There is usually a vast difference between a child’s verbal ability and the quality of their written work.
- Most of the writing lacks even the basic forms of punctuation.
- They normally can’t self-correct their work when proof-reading.
- Has trouble learning colours, days of the week, months of the year and how to write his/her name, their birth date.
- Has problems with sequences like multiplication tables, today/tomorrow.
- Have trouble retaining facts .
- Has extreme difficulty in telling the time. They may manage o’clock and half past but anything else becomes too difficult for them.
- They will write some numbers backwards, for example 41 for 14.
- Poor concentration.
- Unable to follow multi-step directions or routines. For example if you ask them to go upstairs, get undressed, have a wash and bring down a book, they will probably forget one of your directions (and not necessarily to wash!).
- Most dyslexics have significant problems in directionality, telling left from right.
The dyslexic teenager or adult will have many of the symptoms described above. In addition:
- Oral ability is very obviously better than written ability
- Slow and stilted at reading
- Doesn’t like reading books, particularly fiction
- Poor speller and often uses a number of different spellings for the same word in one piece of writing.
- Difficulty learning a foreign language
- Problems memorising facts and therefore would find it difficult to memorise history facts concerning dates, names and places and science facts concerning figures such as the speed of light being 186,000 miles per second
- Can find touch typing difficult
- Has difficulty remembering homework tasks
- Dyslexic people experience extreme difficulty organising themselves and their belongings therefore they will often have messy school bags, bedrooms, desks, offices, garages
- May have difficulty with planning, organising and managing time, materials or tasks.
- Is forgetful or disorganised
- Difficulty with time – forgets appointments, late for meetings, wrong venue
- Cannot remember a full list of instructions
- Forgets telephone numbers or dials incorrectly
- Often find it difficult to find the right word when talking
- Often misreads information
- Finds it hard to complete assignments on time
- Often loses information such as addresses, phone numbers, times of meetings
- Although they find some areas of maths difficult, like multiplication tables, long division, time they often excel at higher maths levels like geometry and algebra.
- Loses their place easily when reading
- Inaccurate self image – “I must be thick/lazy/careless” etc.
Strengths of people who are dyslexic
Dyslexic people have a unique brain function which makes reading, spelling and writing difficult. However they often have strengths or are gifted in other areas controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain. These talents show particularly in creative areas and design. Therefore artistic skills, athletic, musical, cooking and mechanical ability, imagination and creative thinking are often areas in which dyslexics excel.
Links with other Conditions- Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder, (ADD or ADHD).
ADD is a totally separate and different condition to dyslexia. However research has shown that approximately 40% of people who are dyslexic also have ADD (or ADHD)
A small amount of people who are dyslexic also have a sensitivity to light, this is sometimes called scotopic sensitivity. This condition makes it very difficult for them to read black print on white paper as the print seems to move about. This can be remedied by using different coloured paper as a background or using coloured plastic overlays, which makes the print stay still.
When to seek Help
If 6 or more of these warning signs exist, especially if there is a history of dyslexia or ADD/ADHD in the family, you or your child should be assessed for dyslexia.
NB A child with no learning difficulties can often exhibit a number of these symptoms up to the age of 6 years.