Dyslexia – Spot the Signs

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It is important to spot signs of dyslexia early. The earlier this learning difficulty is diagnosed, the sooner an intervention can help children overcome it. This list from Dybuster can help you to identify the first signs that your child may need some help. You can also find more information about dyslexia and dyscalculia on their website.


Signs of Dyslexia

When children are first learning how to read and write, they make the same mistakes at varying degrees of frequency. For most children, the mistakes decrease in frequency after a short time and are eventually eliminated altogether. Children with dyslexia, on the other hand, make a significantly greater number of errors than their peers and the problems persist over a long period of time. What is particularly characteristic of dyslexia is the enormous inconsistency of these errors: it is often difficult to establish regular error patterns, and the errors occur without a common factor or any theme.


The following signs can indicate the presence of dyslexia:


General wellbeing

  • …has anxiety about going to school
  • …has anxiety about taking tests
  • …has a negative perception of their own intelligence
  • …is withdrawn
  • …expects to fail
  • …displays frustration and a reluctance to try in other subjects
  • …lacks self-confidence
  • …experiences psychosomatic symptoms (tummy ache in the morning)
  • …displays aggressive or depressive behaviour
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Doing homework

  • …requires a disproportionate amount of time
  • …quickly becomes tired
  • …is disorganised at home and school
  • …needs a lot of support
  • …wants a parent or other adult to be present
  • …frequently seeks reassurance that their answers are correct
  • …often forgets what is to be done as homework
  • …often gets confused about verbal instructions
  • …has the feeling that they are not getting better, even after lots of practice
  • …reacts sensitively when trying to work, with frequent arguments or tears

Typical spelling and writing mistakes

  • …finds it difficult to tell similar-looking letters apart
  • …finds it difficult to map letters to sounds (phoneme errors)
  • …finds it difficult to break letters down into component sounds
  • …misses out particular letters or parts of words
  • …adds extra letters or parts of words
  • …mixes up the order of the letters within a word
  • …distorts the appearance of letters (writes them as mirror images)
  • …makes frequent errors with upper and lower case
  • …has difficult remembering and applying spelling rules
  • …writes the same word in different ways within the same text, yet is not able to recognise that the word is written differently each time or which version is correct
  • …makes a noticeably large number of grammatical errors
  • …has difficulty using punctuation(«»/ ,/./?/!)
  • …often has illegible handwriting, unable to maintain consistent letter sizing throughout an entire text

Typical reading mistakes

  • …has difficulty breaking words down into syllables orally
  • …exhibits poor rhyming skills
  • …has difficulty recognising beginning, middle and end sounds
  • …mispronounces words or parts of words
  • …leaves out particular letters or parts of words
  • …adds particular letters or parts of words
  • …reads very slowly and deliberately, often taking long pauses between words
  • …skips over punctuation, not leaving a pause for breath
  • …spontaneously replaces letters, syllables and words with other letters, syllables and words
  • …finds it difficult to begin reading out loud; lots of hesitation
  • …often loses their place in the text
  • …swaps words around within a sentence
  • …swaps around letters within a word
  • …has difficulties pronouncing double vowel sounds (diphthongs)

Typical difficulties with comprehension

  • …often finds it difficult to follow written instructions
  • …finds it difficult to formulate statements about reading material in their own words
  • …has difficulties drawing conclusions from reading material or identifying correlations
  • …struggles with questions on the content of texts; often needs to use their general knowledge to answer questions instead of formulating answers from the information they have read.