Dyslexia Symptoms: Signs of Dyslexia in Kids

There are many myths about dyslexia and how the signs and symptoms of dyslexia may present in kids. Here are two myths that we, as dyslexia therapists, commonly hear when talking with Lexercise families, followed by the research-backed facts:

My child sees letters and words backward.

(Dyslexia is not caused by vision difficulties.) 

My child’s school says he can’t be tested before third grade.

(Dyslexia should be identified as early as possible. Intervention can begin as early as four years old.)

While there are many things that dyslexia is NOT, there are some common patterns. 

  • Dyslexic students typically have difficulty identifying speech sounds and how they relate to letters and spelling patterns. 
  • The brain networks that link sounds and letters tend to be less organized in dyslexic individuals than in their peers who read and spell more effortlessly.   
  • People with dyslexia do not differ from typical readers in intelligence, hearing, or vision. 
  • Early identification and intervention help students with dyslexia overcome their reading and spelling difficulties.
  • The reading and spelling difficulties of people with dyslexia vary from mild to severe. 
  • Red flags for dyslexia differ depending on a child’s age.

What Are the Characteristics of Dyslexia?

Lexercise Educational Therapist partner and author of this blog post, Mindi Johanneman, M.Ed., SLDS

We have compiled a list of dyslexia symptoms we commonly observe in students at different grade levels. Remember, these are only symptoms and symptoms are not adequate for a diagnosis. But if your child has some of these symptoms you might want to use our free dyslexia screener to investigate further.

Symptoms of Dyslexia in Preschool:

  • Reversing or leaving off sounds when pronouncing common words (e.g., pushetti for spaghetti, aminal for animal)
  • Difficulty learning and remembering the names of letters and their associated sounds
  • Difficulty with word games
  • Difficulty with rhyming or understanding nursery rhymes
  • Little to no interest in using print materials

Symptoms of Dyslexia in Kindergarten through 2nd Grade:

  • Difficulty learning and remembering the names of letters and their associated sounds
  • Difficulty pronouncing letter sounds and then blending them to pronounce a whole word
  • Difficulty decoding and spelling words
  • Difficulty reading common sight words
  • Guessing at or skipping words when reading
  • Complaining that school work is hard 
  • Complaining of fatigue and/or physical aches and pains connected with school or homework (e.g., stomach aches/headaches)
  • Avoiding reading or writing-related tasks

Symptoms of Dyslexia in 3rd through 5th Grades:

  • Difficulty with oral reading fluency
  • Avoiding reading and writing tasks and especially reading aloud
  • Difficulty decoding words, especially uncommon or complex words
  • Over-use of short, simple, easy-to-spell words in writing
  • Difficulty with reading comprehension, especially when reading independently
  • Greater difficulty with math word problems than with calculation problems
  • Struggling to finish assignments and tests on time
  • Extreme fatigue related to reading and writing

Symptoms of Dyslexia in Middle and High School:

  • Difficulty with and avoidance of reading and writing and especially reading aloud
  • Anxiety related to school, school assignments, and tests
  • Difficulty with reading comprehension, frequently requiring re-reading passages
  • Difficulty decoding words, especially uncommon or complex words
  • Difficulty spelling
  • Difficulty finishing assignments and tests on time
  • Extreme fatigue related to reading and writing
  • Difficulty learning a foreign language

Helping Your Child with Early Signs of Dyslexia

parent testing and identifying signs of dyslexia

The Lexercise Structured Literacy Curriculum™ offers individualized engagement, effective practice opportunities, extra features, and online accessibility so that your child can receive research-based, quality dyslexia help at home. If you suspect your child has dyslexia or other learning disability, take one of our free learning disabilities screeners or schedule a free consultation.

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Mindi Johanneman

Mindi Johanneman, M.Ed., SLDS | Building Pathways

With over 15 years of experience, I have devoted my career to helping struggling readers. As a struggling reader myself, I understand on a personal level the importance of Structured Literacy (aka Orton-Gillingham). I now have the privilege to use this instruction to help struggling readers all over the world.