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Speech may be delayed. Children normally utter their first words when they reach age one. A child with dyslexia may be slow in learning to speak or combine words; sometimes delaying speech until they are two or three. Some children also have the tendency to stutter and to mispronounce words.



Sequential logic may be difficult. For example, days of the week, months of the year, the sequence of numbers and the alphabet.  Certain tasks that require sequences of steps can be challenging such as tying one’s shoelaces or solving math problems. Many also find it hard to tell the time on a clock; while some may be able to tell half-hourly and hourly time, many are lost when telling time that involves smaller fractions such as 15 minutes past or 5 minutes before. 




Directions may be a challenge. Directions, reading maps, reading a compass or difficulty gauging right from left or up from down may be confusing for individuals with dyslexia. Many may find it hard to differentiate similar alphabet letters when they are inverted or reversed such as “b” and “d” or “u” and “n”.




Visual and motor coordination skills may be seen in handwriting. Writing is a chore that the child struggles with and the task is often slow and laborious.  It is common to find sentences written by a child who has dyslexia are often incomplete, filled with spelling errors, and with the absence of punctuation and capital letters. Dysgraphia is a deficiency in the ability to write, primarily handwriting, but also coherence.  Dysgraphia is a transcription disability, meaning that it is a writing disorder associated with impaired handwriting, orthographic coding, and finger sequencing. 



Memory may be a challenge. Remembering tasks or facts that are not personally relevant or important such as general knowledge facts, history facts or math formulas can appear as challenges. This may contribute to the general observation that dyslexia patients have poor math abilities. Despite their intelligence, they have difficulty in grasping math concepts and often perform poorly in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division but can problem solve.



Organization of space and thought may be difficult. Organizing personal belongings such as their bedrooms, lockers, desks, offices, homes or bags can be a challenge. Often being viewed as lazy, messy and unorganized. Executive Functioning is a disruption to a group of cognitive processes that regulate, control, and manage other cognitive processes.  Executive dysfunction can refer to both neurocognitive deficits and behavioral symptoms.



Reading is usually difficult. Many individuals with dyslexia have problems in reading. They may have challenges in recognizing individual words, skipping out certain words or difficulty in understanding a passage due to the intense concentration spent on individual words. When reading aloud, the reading is often slow and disrupted at every phrase. 

* list from Shaywitz, S. & Shaywitz, J. (2020). 

Overcoming Dyslexia: Second Ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 142-148


The Preschool Years

  • Delay in Speech

  • Trouble learning common nursery rhymes, such as “Jack and Jill”

  • Difficulty learning (and remembering) the names of letters in the alphabet

  • Seems unable to recognize letters in his/her own name

  • Mispronounces familiar words; persistent “baby talk”


Kindergarten &

First Grade


  • Reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters on the page—will say “puppy” instead of the written word “dog” on an illustrated page with a picture of a dog

  • Does not understand that words come apart

  • Complains about how hard reading is; “disappears” when it is time to read

  • A history of reading problems in parents or siblings

  • Cannot sound out even simple words like cat, map, nap

  • Does not associate letters with sounds, such as the letter b with the /b/ sound



  • Curiosity

  • Great imagination

  • Ability to figure things out; gets the gist of things

  • Eager embrace of new ideas

  • A good understanding of new concepts

  • Surprising maturity

  • A larger vocabulary than typical for age group

  • Enjoys solving puzzles

  • Talent for building models

  • Excellent comprehension of stories read or told to him


Second Grade through High School

  • Very slow in acquiring reading skills. Reading is slow and awkward

  • Trouble reading unfamiliar words, often making wild guesses because he cannot sound out the word

  • Doesn’t seem to have a strategy for reading new words

  • Avoids reading out loud



  • Searches for a specific word and ends up using vague language, such as “stuff” or “thing,” without naming the object

  • Pauses, hesitates, and/or uses lots of “um’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


School and Life

  • Trouble remembering dates, names, telephone numbers, random lists

  • Struggles to finish tests on time

  • Extreme difficulty learning a foreign language

  • Poor spelling

  • Messy handwriting

  • Low self-esteem that may not be immediately visible



  • Excellent thinking skills: conceptualization, reasoning, imagination, abstraction

  • Learning that is accomplished best through meaning rather than rote memorization

  • Ability to get the “big picture”

  • A high level of understanding of what is read to him

  • The ability to read and to understand at a high level overlearned (or highly practiced) words in a special area of interest; for example, if he or she loves cooking they may be able to read food magazines and cookbooks

  • The improvement as an area of interest becomes more specialized and focused—and a miniature vocabulary is developed that allows for reading in that subject area

  • A surprisingly sophisticated listening vocabulary

  • Excels in areas not dependent on reading, such as math, computers and visual arts, or in more conceptual (versus fact-driven) subjects, including philosophy, biology, social studies, neuroscience, and creative writing

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