Dyslexia Symptoms and Signs

Child reading a bookDear Sir

Heardy I aply for any posision in your cumpany. I am ninteen years of age and have now cumpleted grabe ten. I am interristed in people and a motivateb person. I dont have any work ecsperience dut I am wiling to lern.

Yours faitfuly,

George White

When reading the above email, you might think someone with deficient intelligence wrote it. You’re mistaken. This person’s intelligence is above average, but he is limited in his ability to read and spell correctly. He has dyslexia.

The term dyslexia was introduced in 1884 by the German ophthalmologist R Berlin. He coined it from the Greek words dys, meaning ill or difficult, and lexis, meaning word, and used it to describe a specific disturbance of reading without pathological conditions in the visual organs. In a later publication in 1887, Berlin stated that dyslexia, “presuming right-handedness,” is caused by a left-sided cerebral lesion. He spoke of “word blindness” and detailed his observations with six patients with brain lesions who had complete command over verbal communications but had lost the ability to read.

Today, the term dyslexia is frequently used to refer to a “normal” child—or adult—who seems much brighter than their reading and written work suggests. While the term is mainly used to describe a severe reading problem, there has been little agreement in the literature or practice concerning the definition of severe or the specific distinguishing characteristics that differentiate dyslexia from other reading problems.

Instead of getting involved in the wrangling over a definition, we would instead use the “symptoms” below as an indication that a person has a reading problem and, therefore, needs help:

Weakness in phonological processing

Phonological processing refers to the use of phonological information — especially the sound structure of one’s oral language — to process written language (i.e., reading, writing) and oral language (i.e., listening, speaking).

Symptoms of dyslexia that indicate difficulty in phonological processing include:

• A struggle to decode words, which is the ability to match letters to sounds.
• Inability to rapidly retrieve letter sounds while analyzing words so that the beginning of the word is already forgotten by the time the last letter of the word is recalled.
• Children with dyslexia may find it difficult to blend individual sounds into words; they may sound out the letters of the word correctly but then be unable to say the correct word. For example, they may sound the letters ‘c-a-t’ but then says cold.
• Vowel sounds are particularly troublesome.

Directional confusion

Directional confusion may take several forms, from being uncertain of which is left and right to being unable to read a map accurately, says Dr Beve Hornsby in her book Overcoming Dyslexia. A child should know their left and right by age five and be able to distinguish someone else’s by age seven. 

Directional confusion affects other concepts such as up and down, top and bottom, compass directions, keeping one’s place when playing games, being able to copy the gym teacher’s movements when he is facing you, and so on. As many as eight out of ten severely dyslexic children have directional confusion. The percentage is lower for those with a mild condition, Hornsby says.

Directional confusion is the reason for reversing letters, whole words or numbers, or so-called mirror writing. The following symptoms indicate directional confusion:

• The person with dyslexia may reverse letters like b and d, or p and q, either when reading or writing.
• They may invert letters, reading or writing n as u, m as w, d as q, p as b, f as t.
• They may read or write words like no for on, rat for tar, won for now, saw for was.
• They may read or write 17 for 71.
• They may mirror write letters, numbers and words.

Sequencing difficulties

Many people with dyslexia have trouble with sequencing, i.e., perceiving and remembering something in sequence. Naturally, this will affect their ability to read and spell correctly. After all, every word consists of letters in a specific sequence. In order to read, one has to perceive the letters in sequence and also remember what word is represented by the sequence of letters in question. By simply changing the sequence of the letters in a name, it can become mean or amen.

The following are a few of the dyslexia symptoms that indicate sequencing difficulties:

• When reading, the person with dyslexia may put letters in the wrong order and read felt as leftact as catreserve as reverse, and expect as except.
• They may put syllables in the wrong order, reading animal as ‘aminal,’ enemy as’ emeny.’
• They may put words in the wrong order, reading are there for there are.
• The dyslexic may write letters in the wrong order, spelling Simon as ‘Siomn,’ time as ‘tiem,’ and child as ‘chidl.’
• They may omit letters, i.e., reading or writing cat for cartwet for wentsing for string.

Dyslexics may also have trouble remembering the order of the alphabet and strings of numbers, for example, telephone numbers, the months of the year, the seasons, and events in the day. Younger children may also find it hard to remember the days of the week. Some cannot repeat longer words orally without getting the syllables in the wrong order, such as preliminary and statistical.

Difficulties with the little words

A frequent comment made by parents of children struggling with their reading is, “He is so careless; he gets the big difficult words but keeps making silly mistakes on all the little ones.” Certainly, the poor reader gets stuck on difficult words, but many do seem to make things worse by making mistakes on simple words they should be able to manage—like ‘if,’ ‘to,’ and ‘and.’

The following are indications of problems with the little words:

• Misreads little words, such as a for and, the for a, from for for, then for there, were for with.
• Omits or reads twice little words like the, and, but, in.
• Adds little words which do not appear in the text.

It is important to note that this is extremely common and not a sign that a child is careless or lazy.

Late talking

Research has revealed a dramatic link between the abnormal development of spoken language and learning disabilities such as dyslexia. The following are just a few examples:

• A 1970 study by Dr Renate Valtin of Germany, based on one hundred pairs of dyslexic and normal children, found indications of backwardness in speech development and a greater frequency of speech disturbances among dyslexic than among normal children.

• According to Dr Beve Hornsby, author of Overcoming Dyslexia, about 60 percent of children with dyslexia were late talkers.

• In her book Learning Disabilities, author Janet Lerner states, “Language problems of one form or another are the underlying basis for many learning disabilities. Oral language disorders include poor phonological awareness, delayed speech, disorders of grammar or syntax, deficiencies in vocabulary acquisition, and poor understanding of oral language.”

In most cases, a baby should understand simple words and commands from nine months. From around a year, they should be saying their first words. By two, they should have a vocabulary of up to 200 words and use simple two-word phrases such as “drink milk.” By three, they should have a vocabulary of up to 900 words and be using complete sentences with no words omitted. They may still mix up consonants, but their speech should be understandable to strangers. By four, they should be fully able to talk, although they may still make grammatical errors.

If a child talks immaturely or makes unexpected grammatical errors in their speech when they are five, this should alert the parents to probable later reading problems. The parents should immediately take steps to improve the child’s language.

Difficulties with handwriting

Some dyslexics suffer from poor handwriting skills. The word dysgraphia is often used to describe a difficulty in this area and is characterised by the following symptoms:

• Generally illegible writing.
• Letter inconsistencies.
• Mixture of upper/lower case letters or print/cursive letters.
• Irregular letter sizes and shapes.
• Unfinished letters.
• Struggle to use writing as a communicative tool.

Difficulties with maths

The language of mathematics is often poorly understood by people with dyslexia up until age twelve—and even beyond. The word dyscalculia is often used to refer to this problem.

Difficulties with maths can be identified by the following symptoms:

• The dyslexic may have problems with numbers and calculations involving adding, subtracting, and time tables.
• They may be confused by similar-looking mathematical signs: + and ×; –, ÷ and =; < (less than) and > (greater than).
• They may not grasp that the words’ difference’, ‘reduction,’ and ‘minus’ all suggest ‘subtraction.’
• They may understand the term ‘adding’, yet be thrown if asked to ‘find the total.’
• The person with dyslexia may reverse numbers and read or write 17 for 71.
• They may transpose numbers, i.e., 752 – 572.
• They may have difficulty with mental arithmetic.
• They may have a problem with telling the time.

Bizarre reading and spelling

Bizarre reading or spelling is a severe form of dyslexia and is characterised by the following symptoms:

• Guesses wildly at words regardless of whether they make sense or not. In her book Overcoming Dyslexia, Dr Beve Hornsby uses the following example to illustrate how some dyslexics guess wildly at words: “Now the children were discussing their new play. ‘We need a brave person for the mountain rescue,’ explained the boy,” was read as “How the children were designing their new play. ‘We need a brave man of the mount chishimse,’ ixslating the boy.”

• Spells bizarrely, for example, substance spelled ‘sepedns,’ last spelled ‘lenaka,’ about spelled ‘chehat,’ may spelled ‘mook,’ did spelled ‘don,’ and to spelled ‘anianiwe.’

Other dyslexia symptoms

• Makes up a story based on the illustrations, which bears no relation to the text.
• Reads very slowly and hesitantly.
• Loses orientation on a line or page while reading, missing lines or reading previously-read lines again.
• Reads aloud hesitantly, word by word, monotonously.
• Tries to sound the word’s letters but cannot say the correct word. For example, sounds the letters’ c-a-t’ but then says cold.
• Mispronounces words or puts stress on the wrong syllables.
• Reads only in the present tense, although the text is in the past.
• Foreshortens words, for example, ‘portion’ for proportion.
• Substitutes another word of similar meaning, for example, dog for pup.
• Omits prefixes, omits suffixes, or adds suffixes.
• Reads with poor comprehension.
• Remembers little of what he reads.
• Spells words as they sound, for example, ‘rite’ for right.
• Cannot write or match the appropriate letter when given the sound.
• Often ignores punctuation. He may omit full stops or commas and fail to see the need for capital letters.
• Poor at copying from the board.
• Has trouble attaching names to things and people.

Edublox programs effectively overcome dyslexia symptoms by addressing the underlying shortcomings that interfere with academic performance.

Share Button

Leave a Reply

0 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
0 Comment authors
Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Skip to toolbar