Writing backwards and reversing letters: does my child have Dyslexia?

Dyslexia writing problems letter reversalMany children are referred for Dyslexia evaluation because they write some letters backwards (sometimes called “mirror writing”). Does writing backwards or reversing letters mean your child has Dyslexia?

Myth: Writing backwards is a sign of Dyslexia

“This is unfortunately a myth that seems to have nine lives,” says the Yale Centre for Dyslexia and Creativity1. “Many young children reverse letters when learning to write, regardless of whether or not they have dyslexia”. Many children with dyslexia do not reverse letters2,3.

It is common for young children to reverse letters and numbers when they learn to read and write. Most children outgrow this difficulty as they become better readers and writers. However, if reversing persists after around the age of 7 (or the end of year 2), it could be a sign of a learning difficulty.

MYTH: Dyslexia is caused by vision problems

Dyslexia is not caused by visual deficiencies, rather it is a learning difference that affects how the brain receives, processes, and responds to language.

Children with dyslexia have problems recognising and manipulating the underlying sound structures of words (known as phonological processing) and find it hard to map oral sounds to written language.

Address the foundations of reading

Most reading programs provide more and more reading practice or work on phonics skills without first building the underlying skills that support reading and phonics development. This is like building the roof of a house without first building the supporting walls.

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References

1 Yale Centre for Dyslexia and Creativity
2 Blackburne, LK., Eddy, MD., Kalra, P., Yee, D., Sinha, P., and Gabrieli, J. (2014) Neural Correlates of Letter Reversal in Children and Adults. PLOS ONE 9(6)
3  Dehaene, S. (2013) Inside the Letterbox: How Literacy Transforms the Human Brain. Cerebrum. May-June:7. Published online 2013 Jun 3.