Signs to Watch For if You are Concerned about Dyslexia

According to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, indicators of dyslexia can be noticed early on, before school-age. It's important to catch these signs early because early identification and intervention can be key to preventing several difficulties children who struggle with dyslexia may encounter.

Preschool Early Signs of Dyslexia

  • Trouble learning common nursery rhymes, such as “Jack and Jill”
  • Difficulty learning (and remembering) the names of letters in the alphabet
  • Seems to be unable to recognize letters in his/her own name
  • Mispronounces familiar words; persistent “baby talk”
  • Doesn't recognize rhyming patterns like cat, bat, rat
  • A family history of reading and/or spelling difficulties

Kindergarten and 1st Grade

Kids in school learn symbol/sound correlation (e.g., what does B say?), they learn to decode (sound out) words, remember sight words, and spell words. If your child is struggling, indicators of dyslexia are:

  • Reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters on the page. Your child may say “puppy” instead of the written word “dog” on an illustrated page with a dog shown.
  • A lack of understanding that words come apart
  • Complains about how hard reading is or “disappearing” when it is time to read
  • A history of reading problems in parents or siblings
  • Difficulty sounding out even simple words like cat, map, nap
  • Does not associate letters with sounds, such as the letter b with the /b/ sound

2nd Grade and Above

When kids reach second grade and above, the reading and spelling struggles begin to appear more obviously. There is a larger gap between their cognitive capabilities and their academic performance. People with dyslexia tend to have an average or above average IQ, so many learn to compensate on their own and therefore “fly under the radar” in the classroom. Kids may struggle with basic reading concepts along with some noticeable speech issues. Some indicators to watch for are:

  • Slow in acquiring reading skills. Reading is slow, awkward, and laborious
  • Trouble reading unfamiliar words, often making wild guesses because he/she cannot sound out the word
  • Lack of a strategy for reading new words
  • Avoidance of reading out loud
  • Searching for a specific word and ends up using vague language, such as “stuff” or “thing” a lot, without naming the object?
  • Pauses, hesitates, and/or uses lots of “umm’s” when speaking
  • Confuses words that sound alike, such as saying “tornado” for “volcano,” substituting “lotion” for “ocean”
  • Mispronunciation of long, unfamiliar, or complicated words
  • Seems to need extra time to respond to questions.