The Signs of Dyslexia

Is your child dyslexic? You may know what signs to look for, but it can still be difficult to tell. 

The most obvious symptoms displayed by children with dyslexia involve difficulties in acquiring and using language, but not all children who have these problems are dyslexic.

Usually these difficulties become noticeable in Grade 1, when children are learning to read, but they transfer over into everyday activities.

According to Barbara Young, a Toronto-based educator and founder of the Arrowsmith instruction method, a dyslexic child may, depending on the degree of the learning disability, exhibit one, a few or a cluster of the symptoms listed below.

The key is not the number of symptoms, insists Young, but whether-and to what extent-they interfere with your child’s functioning. Read the list below to see if your child may need to be tested for dyslexia.


My child…

  • has trouble matching a letter to its sound.
  • has a tendency to ramble when talking and leaves out chunks of information that are necessary for the listener to understand what he or she is talking about.

Organizing written and spoken language

My child…

  • has difficulty translating thoughts into the written process. She knows what she wants to say, but has trouble putting it on paper with the proper words and parts of speech.


My child…

  • writes the same word in different ways on the same page.


My child…

  • has poor visual memory for words he has learned before. For example, he does not recognize the word “house” even after seeing it many times.
  • has a tendency to misread words, for example, “step hall” instead of “steep hill.”


My child…

  • has to concentrate on the process of writing and, as a result, has less attention to focus on the content of what is being written.

Reversal of letters

My child…

  • reverses letters when writing.

This is developmental and completely normal up to a certain age. According to Young, there is a problem only if your child continues to do so after completing Grade 3 (on average).

If you are worried your child may have a learning disability such as dyslexia, talk to his or her teacher. Schools are usually well equipped to deal with such issues and can offer you resources and point you in the right direction for help.

For more information on dyslexia check out these websites:
The Learning Disabilities Association of Canada
The International Dyslexia Association