Understanding dyslexia: What it is and how to recognize the signs

Dyslexia is a learning difference that is neurobiological in nature, makes reading difficult, and may also interfere with recognizing, spelling, writing, and decoding words. Often genetically inherited, dyslexia is by far the most common learning difference, affecting at least 10% of the population and representing 80% or more of all those with learning differences.

Learn to spot the signs that your child may have dyslexia. Please note the below are potential signs, but there is no substitute to speaking with a professional to obtain specific advice and, where warranted, assessments for your child or loved one. 

A preschool child might:

  • Have a history of delays in speaking, making sentences or pronouncing words correctly 
  • Have a history of ‘glue ear’ or similar early childhood difficulties 
  • Find it hard to remember the names of familiar objects (e.g., spoon, cup) 
  • Have difficulty learning nursery rhymes 
  • Have other members of the family with similar difficulties

An elementary school child might:

  • Have difficulty learning to read, write, and spell, taking longer to complete written work 
  • Have trouble remembering sequences such as the alphabet and months of the year 
  • Struggle with phonemic awareness, such as rhyming and blending/segmenting sounds 
  • Have continually reverse letters and figures (e.g., 15 for 51, b for d) 
  • Have difficulty remembering and following oral instructions, leading to increased frustration and loss of confidence  

In secondary school, a teenager might:  

  • Tend to read inaccurately and without adequate comprehension 
  • Use inconsistent spelling and get ‘tied up’ using long words (e.g., preliminary, philosophical) 
  • Find planning/writing essays and starting/completing work difficult 
  • Confuse verbal instructions, places, times, and dates 
  • Be disorganized at home and school, express frustration, and show signs of low self-esteem

At LDS, we support learners with suspected or diagnosed dyslexia with specialized one-to-one instruction, because we understand that children with dyslexia learn in a different way. Our Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE) programs are effective because we create interventions based on each learner’s unique needs and strengths. One methodology does not fit all, so LDS draws on different methodologies to create an individualized instruction plan that fosters each student’s learning. 

In supporting individuals with dyslexia, early intervention is key. Our Resources and Contacts page features our assessment tools and a list of several providers able to assess or diagnose dyslexia and other learning differences. 

For more information about our programs, click here.

– Sofia Lopez-Nakashima, Case Manager and Instructor

LDS is a community of dedicated professionals that write collaboratively. We recognize the contribution of unnamed team members for their wisdom and input.