Do you suspect that you or your child has dyslexia? Or perhaps a teacher has provided feedback that your child might have it? Fortunately, dyslexia’s signs and symptoms are fairly easy to recognise. They might not provide 100% certainty as to whether or not it is dyslexia that one has. Furthermore, the symptoms present in one person might be different from another. However, at least they will indicate the possibility of it, and from there, it’s just a matter of getting a formal psychological assessment done.
Let’s start with the signs and symptoms of dyslexia in preschoolers!
Common signs of dyslexia in preschoolers
A preschooler in Singapore is defined by the Ministry of Education as a child under the age of 7. The recommended age for accurately assessing whether or not a child has dyslexia is 7 and above. As such, it is hard to test for dyslexia in preschoolers. Nevertheless, there are some common signs that might indicate it:
- Difficulty recognising letters or memorising the alphabet
- Trouble writing numbers, letters or words
- Trouble spelling simple words (including their names) correctly
- Trouble sequencing the digits of numbers or letters of words correctly (e.g., ‘she’ -> ‘seh’)
- Confusing frequently used words like ‘want’ with ‘went’
- Messy handwriting that’s hard to read (e.g., letter ‘o’ looking like letter ‘e’, or words that seem to be “flying” all over the place)
- Confusion between upper- and lower-case letters
- Mispronouncing words that they are supposed to be familiar with (e.g., mispronouncing ‘eat’ as ‘hit’)
- Trouble judging distance when playing sports or riding a bike
- Difficulty with motor skills, such as running, jumping, or catching a ball
- Letter reversals when writing or identifying them (e.g., ‘b’ vs ‘d’)
- Confusion with directions; may find it difficult to distinguish left from right
- Struggling to follow simple instructions
- Enjoys being read to but hates reading
These are the most recognisable signs that a preschooler may be struggling with dyslexia, but they are not the only ones. If in doubt, consult a professional educational therapist or speak to your child’s teacher about it. Also, try to seek opinions from different sources to avoid bias.
With that said, let’s now move on to the common signs of dyslexia in older children, teens and even adults.
Common signs of dyslexia in school-age children, teens, and adults
For people who fall under this category, it is easier to ascertain whether or not they have dyslexia.
The reason for this is that some children can overcome their weaknesses after they have come of a certain age. However, for those who are unable to, the difficulties will persist.
Thus, the most common signs of dyslexia for this group can include the ones from the preschoolers’ list, as well as the following:
- Difficulty in copying from the whiteboard or taking notes
- Slower rate of reading than others of their age
- Misspelling easy words that others of their age group can spell
- Overlooks punctuation marks, especially commas
- Overlooks or misreads trigger words (i.e., very short words, especially articles, determiners, conjunctions, or prepositions like ‘a’, ‘of’, ‘when’, etc)
- Difficulty with reading comprehension (sometimes mistaken for hyperlexia)
- Skips entire lines when reading
- Adds extra words when reading
- A weaker ability to remember what has just been read or heard.
- Complains of giddiness or floating letters when reading
- Forgets how to spell words that were memorised a few days prior
- Poor pen/pencil grip
- Poor in primary school math
- Poor in retrieving sequential articles (e.g., naming the months in a year from ‘January’ to ‘December’)
- High tendency to lose things
- High tendency to daydream; may have trouble concentrating or finishing tasks
- Confusion when following written or verbal instructions
- Gets overly frustrated when doing homework/schoolwork
Again, this is a non-exhaustive list, but they are some of the most common ones I’ve found throughout my years of working with dyslexic students.
The importance of recognising the signs and symptoms of dyslexia
As mentioned, many of the symptoms from a dyslexic student’s preschool years can persist even when they reach the teenage phase. The most academically inclined students that I’ve had could still make spelling mistakes from time to time. Rather than hoping one outgrows dyslexia, it is better to recognise these signs and symptoms, and get assessed by a psychologist. From there, it is just a matter of finding help to rectify these weaknesses and turn them into strengths.