Early Signs of Dyslexia: Learn how to spot them
Early signs of dyslexia. “What is Dyslexia?”, “How can I tell if my child is dyslexic?”, “How can parents can help their dyslexic child?”. These are some of the questions concerned parents have with regard to childhood dyslexia. It is one of the most common learning disabilities seen in school-age children and even adults, however, most of us know very little about it. If you are concerned that your child may have dyslexia, this article will focus on the early signs of dyslexia, the common symptoms of early signs of dyslexia, early signs of dyslexia in toddler years, early signs of dyslexia in preschool years, and early signs of dyslexia in school years as well as tips parents can follow.
Early Signs of Dyslexia
Dyslexia involves difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that does not affect general intelligence. It is something we can easily disregard until school-age arises when it could affect academic performance. A common problem faced when trying to determine if a child is potentially dyslexic is that children at a young age do not necessarily have the proper vocabulary to articulate what happens to them when they read and/or write. How can you know that what you are reading is considered “wrong” if you have never seen it through the eyes of anyone else except yourself? If you are a parent, a great way to make sure your child receives necessary help is to be able to recognize the early signs of dyslexia that are common but overlooked during early childhood development.
Most people believe dyslexia cannot be treated, that is 100% wrong!! With proper help and interventions, people with dyslexia can become great readers. Recognizing early signs of dyslexia promptly during development is important for defining the problem and getting necessary help before it affects academic performance. The purpose of this article is to help inform you on the early signs of dyslexia, but please do not self-diagnose without seeing a professional.
Early Signs of Dyslexia: General Common Symptoms
Dyslexia is much more than just complicating certain letters, there is a whole array of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate word recognition, spelling, and language decoding abilities. People with dyslexia often have trouble understanding the contextual purpose of what they just read. Approximately one in five people experience symptoms.
There are numerous symptoms one may experience in order to be considered dyslexic. Any one symptom by itself is relatively normal during development and not something to worry about. However, if you notice persistent signs, please seek professional assistance. Some noticeable symptoms at any age include the following:
Vision, Reading and Spelling symptoms:
- The letters on the page either move around, appear “blurry” or “out of focus”
- Transposing (The reversal of letters and/or numbers) after the age of 8
- Problems with spelling and punctuation
- Neglecting sounds or letters while reading and writing
- Complaints of headaches
- Displays difficulty reading aloud
- Possess a solid oral comprehension but displays poor reading comprehension
- Unable to distinguish speech sounds
- Has difficulty repeating phrases or sentences
- Difficulties with reading, reading level is below grade-level peers
Writing and Motor Skill symptoms:
- May be ambidextrous or confuse left and right.
- Clumsy, uncoordinated, poor at ball sports
- The difficulty with fine or gross motor tasks
- Prone to motion-sickness.
Memory and Cognition:
- Poor sequencing
- Thinks in images and/or emotions
- Good long-term memory
- Good spatial perception
Behavior and Personality traits:
- Strong sense of justice
- Emotionally sensitive
- Strives for perfection
- Makes mistakes due to confusion, time pressure, emotional stress.
Read more about dyslexia and basic dyslexia facts you should know.
Early signs of dyslexia during fetal development
Dyslexia can arise early on, even during fetal development. Some may not know but dyslexia has a genetic component, meaning certain cases can actually be inherited in our DNA. More than one-third of people who have dyslexia also have a dyslexic family member. If you know of a family member who has dyslexia, make sure to look out for early signs of dyslexia in your child before they reach school age. Likewise, poor reading abilities seen in parents can also be a probable sign of dyslexia in either themselves or their child. Risk factors for dyslexia during fetal development can include; substance abuse during pregnancy, premature birth, and low birth weight.
Early signs of dyslexia: Toddler years
Early signs of dyslexia 18-24 months:
- Begins speaking later than other children
- Seems to learn new words at a slow pace
- The child does not say short words or phrases
- The child has trouble comprehending simple spoken words
- The child displays a delay in developing certain fine motor skills (picking up small objects, etc.)
Early signs of dyslexia that are seen in 2-3-year-old:
- The child speaks by forming shorter than average sentences
- There is a reduced ability in pronunciation
- The child has a limited vocabulary in comparison to peers
- Learns new words at a slower pace
- Reduced naming object ability
- Difficulty learning nursery rhymes and playing rhyming games
Early signs of dyslexia: Preschool-age children
You can even notice early signs of dyslexia in preschool where the curriculum is not necessarily difficult. If you notice your child becomes frustrated during school work and it takes them longer to do school work in comparison to peers, consider all potential possibilities and try not to rule out dyslexia.
Early signs of dyslexia seen in preschool age:
- Have difficulties pronouncing words, especially words with multiple syllables
- Prefers to use “baby talk”
- Inability to recall the right word
- Has difficulty telling/retelling a story in the right sequence
- Trouble learning common nursery rhymes
- Has trouble learning to spell/write their own name
- Has trouble learning numbers, days of the week, colors or shapes
- The child fails to recognize letters in their own name
Early signs of dyslexia: Early Elementary School Years
It’s not too late to get an intervention once they enter kindergarten and first grade. Make sure to still look out for the early signs of dyslexia!
Early signs of dyslexia in Kindergarten age children:
- Has a hard time recognizing letters in their own name
- Cannot recognize and write letters
- Displays trouble writing their own name
- Cannot spell common words
- Has a hard time breaking down words phonologically into separate syllables
- Has trouble recognizing words that rhythm
- Cannot connect letters and sounds
- Fails to recognize phonemes (Which is the ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds in spoken words “A as in Apple”)
Early signs of dyslexia to notice in your first grader:
- Fails to read common one-word syllables
- Fails to recognize common words that are typically spelled irregular
- Dislike and complain about reading and refuse to do it
- Lack of concentration or attention when at school.
Early signs of dyslexia: Getting Help
Bring up your concerns to a doctor or pediatrician. Your doctor may suggest ruling out other possibilities by making you consult other specialists. Dyslexia is usually diagnosed by either psychologist, neurologist or a speech-language pathologist. Basic diagnosis by a professional consist of assessing strengths and weaknesses in oral language, reading, writing and spelling through standardized tests and evaluations.
In the United States, children who are having trouble in school are legally entitled to request evaluation through their local school district. Professionals are well-equipped with information about reading programs and will pick the right program for your child. Programs involving multisensory structured language techniques have been proven successful.
Early signs of dyslexia: Tips for parents
There are ways you can help as a parent.
Take notice of signs of emotional stress in your kids.
- Dyslexia can lead to other problems including trouble/disinterest in learning and difficulties with socialization.
- Behaviors like anger, frustration, and withdrawal can be a consequence of dyslexia.
- Bolstering your child’s self-esteem can have a positive impact on their confidence in academics.
- Be supportive and patient with your child when they are practicing reading.
Dyslexic children typically have trouble with organization.
- Help make easy to understand schedules, checklist, and routines to help you child assimilate into a set schedule.
- Contact your child’s teacher and make them aware.
- Teachers are typically very understanding and will make sure your child gets extra specialized help.
Talk to your children, try not to let anything concerning what they say slip through the cracks.
- If your child shows an intense hatred for reading, there could be a potential issue.
- Ask simple questions like “How do you feel about reading this book out loud?”.
- Don’t ignore signs that your child feels insecure when it comes to certain academic-related tasks. Not addressing dyslexia can lead to self-esteem issues later on.
- Being self-conscious about your reading abilities can affect performance in other academic areas.
Help phonologically sound out words they are having trouble with.
- Break down big words into smaller syllables.
- You can even mispronounce words by saying the way they are spelled to help your child make a better connection.
- Encourage the use of technology.
- Downloading apps that incorporate fun games into reading and writing can make practicing enjoyable.
- Likewise, having a child practice spelling on a computer can actually improve speed, spelling, and legibility.
Practice reading at home as much as possible.
- This might sound tricky when your child hates reading but be persistent. Designate a set time daily to practice reading with your child. You can take turns on who reads what section.
- Make your reader go back to words they skip over and sound them out together.
- Other fun ideas include getting audiobooks and encouraging your child to read along with the tape.
- Talk about the stories you read together and ask questions about the storyline.
Children and adults with dyslexia should not be deemed “defective”.
- It is not a disease or ailment, it is a distinctive learning style. Many famous people including; Picasso, Winston Churchill, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Muhammed Ali are known to have dyslexia.
- Looking at the situation from a different viewpoint is an underrated skill. Encourage your child’s uniqueness and promote embracing their dyslexia. High self-esteem, early interventions, and extensive practice is a simple recipe for overcoming the adversities caused by dyslexia.
Are these early signs of dyslexia familiar to you? Please leave your comments below!
Genevieve is a recent college graduate from the University at Albany, where she studied Psychology and Neuroscience. Genevieve was involved in the CAFE Project, a research lab affliatied with the University at Albany. CAFE Project was focused on family and community violence experienced in childhood and the effects on long term adjustment, as well as MBSR techniques and the benefits they have on reduction of psychophysiology. Genevieve also worked as a Behavioral Therapist for early intervention programs helpful for teaching developmental milestones for children who have ASD. Currently, she is involved in an Evolutionary Psychology lab through State University of New York at New Paltz. She plans to go to graduate school in Fall 2019.