Most of us have one or two of these characteristics. That does not mean that everyone has dyslexia. A person with dyslexia usually has several of these characteristics that persist over time and interfere with his or her learning.
Late learning to talk
Difficulty pronouncing words
Difficulty acquiring vocabulary or using age appropriate grammar
Difficulty following directions
Confusion with before/after, right/left, and so on
Difficulty learning the alphabet, nursery rhymes, or songs
Difficulty understanding concepts and relationships
Difficulty with word retrieval or naming problems
Difficulty learning to read
Difficulty identifying or generating rhyming words, or counting syllables in words (phonological awareness)
Difficulty with hearing and manipulating sounds in words (phonemic awareness)
Difficulty distinguishing different sounds in words (phonological processing)
Difficulty in learning the sounds of letters (phonics)
Difficulty remembering names and shapes of letters, or naming letters rapidly
Transposing the order of letters when reading or spelling
Misreading or omitting common short words
“Stumbles” through longer words
Poor reading comprehension during oral or silent reading, often because words are not accurately read
Slow, laborious oral reading
Difficulty putting ideas on paper
Many spelling mistakes
May do well on weekly spelling tests, but may have many spelling mistakes in daily work
Difficulty naming colors, objects, and letters rapidly, in a sequence
Weak memory for lists, directions, or facts
Needs to see or hear concepts many times to learn them
Distracted by visual or auditory stimuli
Downward trend in achievement test scores or school performance
Inconsistent school work
Teacher says, “If only she would try harder,” or “He’s lazy.”
Relatives may have similar problems
Unsure of handedness
Poor or slow handwriting
Messy and unorganized papers
Poor fine motor skills
Difficulty remembering the kinesthetic movements to form letters correctly
Difficulty counting accurately
May misread numbers
Difficulty memorizing and retrieving math facts
Difficulty copying math problems and organizing written work
Many calculation errors
Difficulty retaining math vocabulary and concepts
ADHD—Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (Attention)
Dyspraxia (Motor skills)
Difficulty planning and coordinating body movements
Difficulty coordinating facial muscles to produce sounds
Poor sense of time
Overwhelmed by too much input
If your child is having difficulties learning to read and you have noted several of these characteristics in your child, he or she may need to be evaluated for dyslexia or a related disorder.
Dyslexia and other related learning disorders cannot be cured. Proper instruction promotes reading success and alleviates many difficulties associated with dyslexia. Instruction for individuals with reading and related learning disabilities should be:
Intensive – given every day or very frequently for sufficient time.
Explicit – component skills for reading, spelling, and writing are explained, directly taught, and modeled by the teacher. Children are discouraged from guessing at words.
Systematic and cumulative – has a definite, logical sequence of concept introduction; concepts are ordered from simple to more complex; each new concept builds upon previously introduced concepts, with built in review to aid memory and retrieval.
Structured – has step-by-step procedures for introducing, reviewing, and practicing concepts.
Multisensory – links listening, speaking, reading, and writing together; involves movement and “hands on” learning.
Moats, L. C., & Dakin, K. E. (2007). Basic facts about dyslexia and other reading problems. Baltimore: The International Dyslexia Association.
Shaywitz, S. (2003). Overcoming dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level. New York: Knopf.
Tridas, E. Q. (Ed.). (2007). From ABC to ADHD: What every parent should know about dyslexia. Baltimore: The International Dyslexia Association.
The International Dyslexia Association thanks Suzanne Carreker for her assistance in the preparation of this fact sheet.
“promoting literacy through research, education and advocacy”™ The International Dyslexia Association · 40 York Road · Fourth Floor · Baltimore · MD · 21204 Tel: 410-296-0232 · Fax: 410-321-5069 · E-mail: email@example.com · Website: http://www.interdys.org © Copyright 2008, The International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Published by the IDA Information Services Committee. IDA encourages the reproduction and distribution of this fact sheet. If portions of the text are cited, appropriate reference must be made. Fact sheets may not be reprinted for the purpose of resale. Fact sheet revised September 2008.
Individuals with dyslexia have trouble with reading, writing, spelling and/or math even though they have the ability and have had opportunities to learn.
Individuals with dyslexia can learn, but they often need specialized instruction to overcome the problem. Often these individuals, who have talented and productive minds, are said to have a language learning difference.