Signs of Learning Disability/Dyslexia

In preschoolers (age 4-6)

  • May have one or more relatives in the extended family with dyslexia
  • May talk later than most children
  • May have difficulty pronouncing words (i.e., buspetti for spaghetti, mawn lower for lawn mower)
  • May be slow to add new vocabulary words 
  • May be unable to recall the right word
  • May have difficulty with rhyming
  • May have trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, colors, shapes, how to spell and write his or her name
  • May be unable to follow multi-step directions or routines
  • May have difficulty telling and/or retelling a story in the correct sequence
  • Often has difficulty separating sounds in words and blending sounds to make words

In Kindergarten to 4th grade

  • May be slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds
  • Has difficulty decoding single words (reading single words in isolation)
  • Has difficulty spelling phonetically
  • Makes consistent reading and spelling errors
  • Letter reversals - d for b as in, dog for bog
  • Word reversals - tip for pit
  • Inversions - m and wu and n
  • Transpositions - felt and left
  • Substitutions - house and home
  • May confuse small words - "at" for "to", "said" for "goes"
  • Relies on guessing and context
  • May have difficulty learning new vocabulary
  • May transpose number sequences and confuse arithmetic signs  (+ - x / =)
  • May have trouble remembering facts
  • May be slow to learn new skills; relies heavily on memorizing without understanding
  • May have difficulty planning, and organizing and managing time, materials, and tasks

In 5th to 8th grade

  • Is usually reading below grade level
  • May reverse letter sequences - "soiledfor "solid", "leftfor "felt"
  • May be slow to discern and to learn prefixes, suffixes, root words, and other reading and spelling strategies
  • May have difficulty spelling, spells same word differently on the same page
  • May avoid reading aloud
  • May have trouble with word problems in math
  • May avoid writing
  • May have difficulty with comprehension
  • May have slow or poor recall of facts
  • May have trouble with non-literal language (idioms, jokes, proverbs, slang)
  • May have difficulty with planning and time management

In High School/College

  • May read very slowly with many inaccuracies
  • Continues to spell incorrectly, frequently spells the same word differently in a single piece of writing
  • May avoid reading and writing tasks
  • May have trouble summarizing and outlining
  • May have trouble answering open-ended questions on tests
  • May have difficulty learning a foreign language
  • May have poor memory skills
  • May work slowly
  • May pay too little attention to details or focus too much on them
  • May misread information
  • May have an inadequate vocabulary
  • May have an inadequate store of knowledge from previous reading
  • May have difficulty with planning, organizing, and managing time, materials, and tasks

In Adults

  • May hide their reading problems; many subterfuges
  • May spell poorly; relies on others to correct spelling
  • Avoids writing; may not be able to write
  • Relies on memory; may have excellent memory skills
  • Often has good "people" skills
  • Often is spatially talented; professions include, but are not limited to, engineers, architects, designers, artists, and craftspeople, mathematicians, physicists, physicians (esp. orthopedists, surgeons), and dentists
  • In jobs is often working well below their intellectual capacity
  • May have difficulty with planning, organizing, and managing time, materials, and tasks 

Source: Modified from the "Basic Facts about Dyslexia: What Every Layperson Ought to Know"

©Copyright 1993, 2nd edition 1998 - The International Dyslexia Association. Baltimore, MD. 

©2005 The Reading Center/Dyslexia Institute of MN, Basic Orton-Gillingham Reference Manual