16 Signs and Strengths of Children with Dyslexia

Signs of Dyslexia in Preschool

  • Trouble learning common nursery rhymes, such as “Jack and Jill”,
  • Difficulty remembering the names of letters and sounds in the alphabet
  • Mispronounces familiar words; persistent “baby talk”
  • Doesn’t recognize rhyming patterns like cat, bat, rat
  • A family history of reading and/or spelling difficulties; highly hereditary
  • Severe reactions to childhood illnesses
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Constant confusion of left versus right
  • Late establishing a dominant hand
  • Difficulty learning to tie shoes
  • Trouble memorizing their address, phone number, or the alphabet
  • Skips or misreads prepositions (at, to, of)
  • Can’t sound out unknown words
  • Trouble remembering sequences, such as singing the letters of the alphabet or saying the days of the weeks
  • Cannot sound out even simple words like cat, map, nap especially when there are no pictures or context clues.
  • Does not associate letters with sounds, such as the letter b with the “b” sound

Signs of Dyslexia in Grades K–2

  • Confuses letters that look similar (bd, pq) and letters that have similar sounds (d/t; b/p; f/v).
  • Letter or number reversals continuing past the end of first grade
  • Slow, choppy, inaccurate reading: guesses based on shape or context
  • Ignores suffixes. Omits the end of a word when reading and writing (for example, leaving off the s in cats or the ed in jumped).
  • Slow, choppy, inaccurate reading: guesses based on shape or context
  • Difficulty telling a story in a logical order
  • Has trouble remembering and following directions with multiple steps.
  • Often substitutes words when reading aloud, like saying the word house when the story uses the word home.
  • Doesn’t seem to know how to sound out unfamiliar words
  • Confuses vowel sounds.
  • Can’t remember how words are spelled and apply spelling rules in writing.
  • Frequently, reads a word incorrectly, even after having just read the same word correctly earlier in the same text.
  • Difficulty understanding individual sounds in words and/or blending sounds to make a word.
  • Difficulty telling time on a clock with hands.

Signs of Dyslexia in Grades 3–5

  • Skips over it unfamiliar words.
  • Often can’t recognize common words or sight words, at a glance, such as where and there, and tries to sound them out.
  • Trouble explaining what occurred in a story or answering questions about details.
  • Frequently makes the same kinds of mistakes, such as reversing letters (writing bots instead of dots) or mixing up the order of letters (writing stop instead of spot).
  • Has trouble with spelling, such as quickly forgetting how to spell many of the words he studies or spelling the same word correctly and incorrectly in the same exercise.
  • Takes a very long time to complete reading assignments and becomes frustrated and agitated. Avoids reading whenever possible.
  • Seems to read at a lower academic level than the one at which he speaks; may have a smaller vocabulary than other kids his age because he doesn’t like to read
  • Trouble with math – memorizing multiplication tables – memorizing a sequence of steps – directionality
  • Extremely messy bedroom, backpack, and desk
  • Dreads going to school – complains of stomachaches or headaches

Signs of Dyslexia in Teens and Tweens

  • Often reads slowly, omitting small words and suffixes when reading aloud.
  • Makes lots of spelling errors.
  • Often struggles to remember common abbreviations, Mr., Mrs., including ones that are used on social media, such as idk and cul8ter.
  • Has trouble expressing ideas in an organized way when doing writing assignments.
  • Uses words like stuff or thing rather than a more specific phrase
  • Often doesn’t get the joke; has trouble understanding idioms and puns.
  • Does better hearing information audibly.
  • Avoids reading whenever possible or becomes frustrated or agitated when reading.
  • Seems to read at a lower academic level than the one at which he speaks; may have a smaller vocabulary than other kids his age because he doesn’t like to read.
  • Rarely has a fast response in conversations; struggles when put on the spot
  • Suffers extreme fatigue when reading
  • Performs rote clerical tasks poorly
  • Limited vocabulary
  • Extremely poor written expression
  • Large discrepancy between verbal skills and written compositions
  • Unable to master a foreign language
  • Difficulty reading printed music
  • Poor grades in many classes
  • May drop out of high school


  • Great imagination
  • Ability to figure things out; gets the gist of things
  • A good understanding of new concepts; eagerly embrace new ideas
  • Surprising maturity
  • Enjoys solving puzzles
  • Talent for building models
  • Excellent comprehension of stories read or told to him
  • Has a high capacity to learn
  • Shows noticeable improvement when given additional time on multiple-choice examinations
  • Demonstrates excellence when focused on a highly specialized area, such as medicine, law, public policy, finance, architecture or basic science
  • Excellent writing skills if the focus is on content, not spelling
  • Highly articulate when expressing ideas and feelings
  • Exceptional empathy and warmth
  • Successful in areas not dependent on rote memory
  • A talent for high-level conceptualization and the ability to come up with original insights
  • Inclination to think outside of the box and see the big picture
  • Noticeably resilient and able to adapt





Shaywitz, Sally. (2002) Random House, New York, Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level



By Sally Betters, Certified Life Coach