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Reversing letters & writing backwards: Dyslexia?

March 15, 2024

Myth: Reversing letters 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.

writing letters backwards

Letter reversal is different from transposing letters. Reversing letters is when letters are written as a mirror image (such as a b being written as a d), whereas transposing letters means letters are written in the incorrect order.

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.

So for example, a child with phonological processing issues may find rhyming difficult, or have problems breaking words into syllables. These sound processing issues can’t be explained by vision difficulties.

Reversing letters poor vision dyslexia

Even if reversing letters is not dyslexia, here’s what you can do

You may feel that although your child does not have dyslexia, they could definitely do with help to strengthen their reading skills. What can you do?

Strategies to correct writing letters backwards

Make it Multisensory: Engage multiple senses for better learning. Have the child:

  • Trace the letter in sand or shaving cream.
  • Build the letter with clay or play dough.
  • Say the letter’s sound while writing it.

Focus on Directionality: Help them understand left-to-right writing:

  • Use arrows to show the proper direction for forming the letter.
  • Use a highlighter or colored pencil to trace the starting point of the letter.

Targeted Practice:

  • Start with the most commonly reversed letters (often b/d, p/q).
  • Isolate and practice the problematic letters, comparing them to their ‘normal’ versions.
  • Practice writing short, simple words

Visual Aids: Create a chart showing the correct and reversed version of problem letters for easy reference.

Reversing letters teacher

Use educational technology: Targeted online learning programs are a great way to build the foundational skills that help kids write well. 

Fast ForWord builds the underlying skills that contribute to strong phonological and phonemic awareness – such as memory, attention, processing and sequencing. Phonics skills depend on the ability of a child to recognise and map sounds onto letters. Poor processing, attention and memory can make this much harder to do.

Sonic Learning is here to help your child’s writing

Remember, early identification of any learning difficulty is key. If you’re seeing persistent letter reversals past the age of 7, don’t hesitate to seek further guidance. The sooner you address potential challenges, the better equipped your child will be to reach their full potential.

Is your child struggling with reading or writing? Are you noticing letter reversals that have you wondering? Sonic Learning can help. Contact us to find out more about ways we can support your child’s learning journey.


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.
4 ACT Education Department, Factsheet 6: What is phonological processing?
5 Tallal, P. Improving language and literacy is a matter of time. Nat Rev Neurosci 5, 721–728 (2004).


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