Characteristics of Dyslexia


  • If you suspect that your child has characteristics of dyslexia, please visit with your child’s classroom teacher or school counselor.

    The Preschool Years:

    • Trouble learning common nursery rhymes such as “Jack and Jill” and “Humpty Dumpty”
    • A lack of appreciation of rhymes
    • Mispronounced words; persistent baby talk
    • Difficulty in learning (and remembering) names of letters
    • Failure to know the letters in own name

    Kindergarten to First Grade:

    • Failure to understand that words come apart; for example, that the word batboycan be pulled apart into bat and boy, and later on, that the wordbat can be broken down still further and sounded out like: “b”/”a”/”t”
    • Inability to learn to associate letters with sounds, such as being unable to connect the letter band the “b” sound.
    • Reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters; for example, the word bigis read as goat
    • The inability to read common one-syllable words or to sound out even the simplest of words, such as mat, cat, hop, nap
    • Complaints about how hard reading is, or running and hiding when it is time to read
    • A history of reading problems in parents or siblings

    Clues to Dyslexia from Second Grade On

     Problems in Speaking

    • Mispronunciation of long, unfamiliar, or complicated words; the fracturing of words –leaving out parts of words or confusing the order or the parts of words; for example, aluminumbecomes amulium
    • Speech that is not fluent – pausing or hesitating often when speaking, lots of’ um’s’ during speech, no glibness
    • The use of imprecise language, such as vague references to stuffor things instead of the proper name of an object
    • Not being able to find the exact word, such as confusing words that sound alike: saying tornadoinstead of volcano, substituting lotion for ocean, orhumanity for humidity
    • The need for time to summon an oral response or the inability to come up with a verbal response quickly when questioned
    • Difficulty in remembering isolated pieces of verbal information (rote memory) – trouble remembering dates, names, telephone numbers, random lists

      Problems in Reading
    • Very slow progress in acquiring reading skills
    • The lack of a strategy to read new words
    • Trouble reading unknown (new, unfamiliar) words that must be sounded out; making wild stabs or guesses at reading a word; failure to systematically sound out words
    • The inability to read small “function” words such as that, an, in
    • Stumbling on reading multi-syllable words, or the failure to sound out the full word
    • Omitting parts of words when reading; the failure to decode parts within a word; as if someone had chewed a hole in the middle of the word, such asconiblefor convertible
    • A fear of reading out loud; the avoidance of oral reading
    • Oral reading filled with substitutions, omissions, and mispronunciations
    • Oral reading that is choppy and labored, not smooth or fluent
    • Oral reading that lacks inflection and sounds like the reading or a foreign language
    • A reliance on context to discern the meaning of what is read
    • A better ability to understand words in context than to read isolated single words
    • Disproportionately poor performance on multiple choice tests
    • The inability to finish tests on time
    • The substitution of words with the same meaning for words in the test that cannot be pronounced such as carfor automobile
    • Disastrous spelling, with words not resembling true spelling; some spellings may be missed by spell check
    • Trouble reading mathematic word problems
    • Reading that is very slow and tiring
    • Homework that never seems to end, or with parents often recruited as readers
    • Messy handwriting despite what may be an excellent facility at word processing
    • Extreme difficulty learning a foreign language
    • A lack of enjoyment in reading, and avoidance of reading books or even a sentence
    • The avoidance of reading for pleasure, which seems too exhausting
    • Reading whose accuracy improves over time, though it continues to lack fluency and is laborious
    • Lowered self-esteem, with pain that is not always visible to others
    • A history or reading, spelling, and foreign language problems in family members

     Clues to Dyslexia in Young Adults

    Problems in Speaking

    • Persistence of earlier oral language difficulties
    • The mispronunciation of names of people and places, and tripping over parts of words
    • Difficulty remembering names of people and places and the confusion of names that sound alike
    • A struggle to retrieve words: “It is on the tip of my tongue”
    • Lack of glibness, especially if put on the spot
    • Spoken vocabulary that is smaller than listening vocabulary, and hesitation to say aloud words that might be mispronounced.

    Problems in Reading

    • A childhood history of reading and spelling difficulties
    • Word reading becomes more accurate over time but continues to require great effort
    • Lack of fluency
    • Embarrassment caused by oral reading
    • Trouble reading and pronouncing uncommon, strange, or unique words such as people’s names, street or location names, food dishes on a menu (often resorting to asking the waiter about the special of the day or resorting to saying “I’ll have what he’s having” to avoid being unable to accurately read the menu)
    • Persistent reading problems
    • The substitution of made-up words during reading for words that cannot be pronounced – for example, metropolitan becomes mitan– and the failure to recognize the word metropolitan when it is seen again or heard in a lecture
    • Extreme fatigue from reading
    • Slow reading of most materials: books, manuals, subtitles in foreign films
    • Penalized by multiple-choice tests
    • Unusually long hours spent reading school or work-related materials
    • Frequent sacrifice of social life for studying
    • A preference for books with figures, charts or graphics
    • A preference for books with fewer words per page
    • Disinclination to read for pleasure
    • Spelling that remains disastrous and a preference for less complicated words in writing that are easier to spell
    • Particularly poor performance on rote clerical task