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Symptoms of dyslexia by age

Symptoms of dyslexia by age

February 20, 2023

Symptoms of dyslexia are different for everyone, so symptoms and severity vary from person to person. However, there are some common symptoms which can identify dyslexic individuals.

Dyslexia is a reading disability that has the potential to affect people of all ages. It is estimated that up to 10 percent of the population experiences some degree of dyslexia.

Symptoms include:

  • difficulty with reading and writing
  • memory issues
  • problems with organisation and time management
  • difficulties in spelling
  • difficulties with problem-solving

Adults are more likely to realise they have dyslexia, or at least realise they struggle with reading. On the other hand, identifying dyslexia in children first requires careful observation of symptoms that may be signs of the disorder. These symptoms can vary between age groups, with some becoming more pronounced as a child progresses through school. Learn about the different age groups and what to watch out for as your child grows up. You’ll also learn what signs to look out for if you are an adult who feels you have dyslexia.

Symptoms of Dyslexia in Pre-K & Kindergarten (up to 5 years old)

Kids at this age may not be able to discuss their symptoms, so parents and teachers will need to look for other signs. They may struggle with repeating syllables or words, unable to distinguish between left and right directions, or generally show difficulty in following directions. They may have trouble hearing individual language sounds or in expressing themselves verbally.

For example, a child in this age range with dyslexia might struggle with: 

  • identifying and producing rhyming words or counting syllables
  • common nursery rhymes
  • learning and remembering the names of the letters in the alphabet

In general, children may appear to be slower when it comes to learning new skills and making progress with reading, writing and speaking.

Symptoms of Dyslexia in Pre-K & Kindergarten

Symptoms of Dyslexia in Primary School Students (around 6 to 12 years of age)

Primary school is when a lot of instruction begins to be presented in a written form, so primary school children may have difficulty when it comes to reading, writing and spelling. This might include skipping words or lines in written material, confusing basic words like ‘in’ and ‘on’, and struggling with rhyming words. They may be just fine understanding information if presented verbally; however, they have trouble expressing themselves in writing. They might also be less confident when participating in group activities like oral presentations.

One challenge with children of this age is they can be quite skilled at hiding their reading problems.

Here are some other signs to look out for:

  • Complaining about having to read
  • Using vague vocabulary, such as using words like “things” and “stuff” too much
  • Having difficulty sounding out words
  • Having difficulty with new or complicated words
Symptoms of Dyslexia in Primary School Students

Symptoms of Dyslexia in Lower High School Students (around 12 to 14 years of age)

As children progress through the school system, demands on their reading skills increase. Thus, lower high school students may show additional difficulties with reading, writing, and organising information in a logical order. 

They might be unable to express their thoughts in written form, such as misplacing conjunctions or articles (such as not knowing whether to use “that” or “which” in a sentence, or struggling with grammar

They may also have difficulty breaking down multi-syllable words, or find that they read slowly and cram information at the last minute. Anxious children may become extremely distressed when confronted with any activity that involves text or reading.

Symptoms of Dyslexia in Lower High School Students

Symptoms of Dyslexia in Upper High School Students (around 15 and 16 years of age)

Once a student is in upper high school, the demands on their reading skills keep on increasing. Students start learning more abstract concepts, so a dyslexic student will find this very challenging. They may also make basic errors in verbal expression. They might find it hard to organise their thoughts cohesively and draw conclusions from written material. 

Also, they might struggle with phonemic awareness, meaning that they can’t distinguish between individual sounds easily. There may also still be problems with letter formation and handwriting.

Other signs include:

  • reading is mentally exhausting
  • rarely or never reads for pleasure
  • uses “umms” a lot
  • uses imprecise vocabulary such as “things” and “stuff”
  • uses incorrect word forms, such as “runned” instead of “ran”
  • avoids reading aloud
Symptoms of Dyslexia in Upper High School Students

Symptoms of Dyslexia in Adults

It’s important to note that dyslexia is no reflection of intelligence. Many highly successful persons are dyslexic. They’ve found ways to work with, and around, their reading difficulty. However, considering how much information we access in written form, good reading skills definitely make life easier.

The most common symptoms of dyslexia in adults include difficulty sounding out words, confusion when reading aloud, forgetting instructions quickly and trouble understanding written material. Dyslexic adults may also find it difficult to concentrate on tasks for extended periods of time and have difficulty organising thoughts or ideas into cohesive sentences. These signs are typically seen in classrooms or work settings where there is frequent reading or writing involved.

Other signs include an inability to remember names easily and difficulty following conversations due to not understanding quick speech patterns or nuances in language usage.

An adult with dyslexia may:

  • rarely or never read for pleasure
  • hate reading aloud
  • struggle to understand puns, or a play on words
  • have problems with summarising written material
  • struggle with tasks that require memorisation
Symptoms of Dyslexia in Adults

How to help dyslexia

As a parent, there are many things you can do to help your child with dyslexia. These include creating an environment in which your child feels safe and supported, implementing strategies that teach the skills needed for academic success (such as having a growth mindset), organising materials for easier accessibility, and providing individualised instruction. Additionally, working with a professional such as a learning specialist can be really helpful in supporting your child’s needs.

If you’re an adult with dyslexia, you can take charge of your reading and improve. There’s no such thing as a cure for dyslexia, but reading skills—like any learned ability—can be improved. To learn to read, and learn to read better, we need strong memory, attention, processing and sequencing skills.

Sonic Learning has specifically designed the 3 Step Reading Program to help persons with dyslexia.

Using a suite of online learning programs you or your child can use at home, the 3 Step Reading Program builds the underlying skills supporting reading and writing development. Find out more about the 3 Step Reading Program here.

  • Step 1: Build reading foundations with Fast ForWord Foundations/Elements. This series of programs build the foundations of reading – memory, attention, processing and sequencing.
  • Step 2: Build reading proficiency with Fast ForWord Reading. In this series, explore word meanings, build sentences and paragraphs, work on punctuation and much more.
  • Step 3: Build reading automaticity with Reading Assistant. You or your child will build reading fluency with guided reading using real books. It’s a safe space to help you or your child read out loud, using state-of-the-art voice recognition software coupled with an AI-driven reading tutor who will correct you and provide feedback.
3 step reading program

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