Symptoms of Dyslexia

Checklist of Dyslexia Symptoms By Age And Issue

Dyslexia refers to reading difficulties that will not likely resolve themselves. This differs from most reading challenges of young readers, which do work themselves out over time with instruction and practice. Cognitive skill delays cause most cases of dyslexia. And so the signs of dyslexia, pointing at those underlying cognitive delays, are many and diverse.  This checklist of dyslexia symptoms gives you behaviors to look for in reading and in other aspects of life.

For early detection, there are good indicators of dyslexia to look for away from reading.  This is because reading is a difficult skill for everyone. And so early on, the reading of a pre-dyslexic child may look quite similar to that of a soon-to-be good reader who is working through quite normal early difficulties. The difference is the presence of cognitive delays in the pre-dyslexic child that will continue to impede progress to reading proficiency.

Furthermore, many early learning challenges are developmental, not permanent.  Some children take longer than others, most in a band of normal development.  And so it can take a few years before one can definitively say that there is a learning difficulty or disorder. However, the language and learning behaviors associated with the cognitive skill delays that cause dyslexia are evident earlier in life. These are our main focus.

The majority of people with dyslexia will exhibit several of the following dyslexia symptoms, traits, and behaviors in varying degrees from day to day.

Reading Related Checklist of Dyslexia Symptomschecklist of dyslexia symptoms

Most concerns about the potential of dyslexia start with an observation of a reading difficulty. Here is a list of some of the most common errors made by dyslexic children while reading. The focus here is not on the common errors many early readers make, but rather on the mistakes that signal a lack of learning in the reading process:

  • Not recognizing a word that was just read or pointed out on the previous page
  • Unable to sound out unknown words
  • Inserting or leaving out letters
  • Reading out loud in a slow, choppy, often monotonous tone (not using prosody or natural emphasis)
  • Unable to read for long periods of time

Language Related Checklist of Dyslexia Symptoms

Reading is a language skill. Therefore, it is no surprise that some of the best indicators of dyslexia come from how a child’s language. Here are some specific symptoms of dyslexia related to language:

  • Easily distracted by sounds or background noise.
  • Delayed speech in early life.
  • Difficulty with multi-step directions.
  • Difficulty putting thoughts into words or relating a story.

Learning Related Checklist of Dyslexia Symptoms

These symptoms can indicate dyslexia if they are unexpected for the child’s age.

  • Excellent long-term memory for experiences, locations, and faces.
  • Cannot retain facts and information that has not been experienced.
  • Thinks primarily with images and feelings, not sounds or words (little internal dialogue).
  • Reported to be inattentive in class.

Dyslexia Symptoms in Behavior, Health, Development and Personality

Most dyslexic children will have at least 1-2 of these symptoms:

  • Extremely disorderly or compulsively orderly.
  • Can be class clown, trouble-maker, or too quiet.
  • Prone to ear infections; sensitive to foods and additives.
  • Unusually high or low tolerance for pain.
  • Mistakes and symptoms increase dramatically with confusion, time pressure, emotional stress, or poor health.

symptoms of dyslexia related to learningSpelling Related Checklist of Dyslexia Symptoms

Dyslexia and spelling difficulties go hand in hand. Here are some classic symptoms indicative of dyslexia:

  • Difficulty with vowel sounds, often leaving them out.
  • Difficulty memorizing words for spelling tests.
  • Continually misspells non-phonetic but common words such as what, where, does and because.
  • Misspells even when copying something from the board or from a book.

At What Age Can You Call It Dyslexia?

  • Language is lightning fast. Learning to read by matching the individual sounds in words to text can take a while to master. Language processing skills, required for phonemic awareness, do not fully mature until ages 6-7. Therefore, a dyslexia diagnosis cannot be definitive too early in life, certainly not before 1st or 2nd grade.
  • Similarly, children cannot be declared “good readers” until they are reading on grade level in 6th or 7th grade. Some children fly under the radar until more complex reading comprehension requirements challenge inefficient decoding skills. Stay vigilant even after your child enters high school.

Signs of Dyslexia Vary as Children Get Older

Dyslexia symptoms change as a child gets older. Many of the most telling symptoms, early in life, are seen in language, mainly around listening skills. As language improves, the list of symptoms changes, showing up more in reading and learning habits and less in language.

Here is a dyslexia checklist for different age groups to account for these differences in maturity. A child can have symptoms in varying combinations, but will rarely have all of them. Please note that reading is a challenging skill.  Many children switch letters or make other mistakes that might look like dyslexia early on. These mistakes should decrease as the child gets older.

Dyslexia Symptoms Checklist For Children Aged 5 and 6.

You shouldn’t jump to conclusions about dyslexia symptoms while a child is in Kindergarten. If the cognitive delays associated with future reading difficulty are already visible, however, then it is fair to acknowledge that your child, at the very least, is an at-risk reader.

Evaluating 5-6 year old’s, based on their reading skills alone would lead to a dyslexia diagnosis a significant amount of the time, since reading is a difficult for 60-70% of children to master. What we are looking for instead are clues of the existence of the cognitive delays associated with dyslexia, as opposed to assessing reading skills.  A checklist of symptoms of dyslexia for kindergarten age children that puts them in an at-risk category would include:

  • Speech problems: mispronunciation, putting words in the wrong order. Children with dyslexia are often late talkers, though others speak early and are articulate.
  • Difficulty rhyming
  • Lack of interest in reading and spelling compared to other activities.
  • Difficulty carrying out a sequence of directions.
  • Difficulty understanding intangible concepts, such as time.
  • Did not hear language continuously from ages 0-3. Heard language, other than English, had ear infections, etc.

Dyslexia Symptoms Checklist For Children Aged 7-12.

The symptoms of dyslexia vary widely for 7 and 8 year old children, depending on each child’s maturity, academic progress outside of reading, and intelligence. Therefore, it is still best not to draw firm conclusions based on observation alone.

As children get older, however, reading should be falling into place, making the signs of dyslexia clearer. The number of signs can increase as the academic requirements and expectations grow.

  • Unable to read or reading below grade level
  • A lack of progress in reading compared to other subjects
  • Still having difficulties with letter sounds
  • Poor spelling
  • Doesn’t observe punctuation when reading or writing a story
  • Does not add detail to essays
  • Doesn’t enjoy reading, especially dislikes reading aloud
  • Cannot recall what was just read
  • Frustration, withdrawal, and behavioral problems start to increase

Your Next Step

A Gemm Learning educational consultant can help you understand if your child’s reading errors are typical or indicative of a greater struggle. If you are unsure about the above dyslexia symptoms checklist, call for a free consult or ask your questions here.