Signs of Dyslexia across the Ages

Dyslexia can affect different people in different ways and its effects can range from mild to severe.

The list below provides an overview of the types of difficulties a dyslexic person may have at different ages and may be used as a guide to spotting indicators of dyslexia.

Pre-school children

The chances are there’s at least one dyslexic child in each nursery class.

Watch out for the child who does not outgrow the following possible indicators:-

  • has difficulty learning nursery rhymes;
  • finds difficulty paying attention, sitting still, listening to stories;
  • likes listening to stories but shows no interest in letters or words;
  • has difficulty learning to sing or recite the alphabet;
  • has a history of slow speech development;
  • gets words muddled e.g. cubumber, instead of cucumber, or flutterby, instead of butterfly;
  • has difficulty keeping simple rhythm;
  • finds it hard to carry out two or more instructions at one time, (e.g. put the toys in the box then put it on the shelf) but is fine if tasks are presented in smaller units;
  • forgets names of friends, teacher, colours etc.;
  • poor auditory discrimination;
  • finds difficulty cutting, sticking and crayoning in comparison with their peer group;
  • has persistent difficulty in dressing, e.g. finds shoelaces and buttons difficult;
  • puts clothes on the wrong way round;
  • has difficulty with catching, kicking or throwing a ball;
  • often trips, bumps into things, and falls over;
  • has difficulty hopping or skipping;
  • has obvious ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days for no apparent reason.


Ages 7 to 11

  • Seems bright in some ways but unexpectedly struggles in others
  • Other members of the family have similar difficulties
  • Has difficulties carrying out three instructions in sequence
  • Struggles to learn sequences such as days of the week or the alphabet
  • Is a slow reader or makes unexpected errors when reading aloud
  • Often reads a word, and then fails to recognise it further down the page
  • Struggles to remember what has been read
  • Puts letters and numbers the wrong way: for example, 15 for 51, b for d or “was” for “saw”
  • Has poor handwriting and/or struggles to hold the pen/pencil correctly and/or learn cursive writing
  • Spells a word several different ways
  • Appears to have poor concentration
  • Struggles with mental arithmetic or learning times tables
  • Seems to struggle with maths and/or understanding the terminology in maths: for example, knowing when to add, subtract or multiply
  • Has difficulties understanding time and tense
  • Confuses left and right
  • Can answer questions orally but has difficulties writing the answer down
  • Has trouble learning nursery rhymes or songs
  • Struggles with phonics and learning the letter to sound rules
  • Seems to get frustrated or suffers unduly with stress and/or low self-esteem
  • Struggles to copy information down when reading from the board
  • Needs an unexpected amount of support with homework and struggles to get it done on time
  • Is excessively tired after a day at school


Ages 12 to Adult

Many older children and adults will remember having similar difficulties to those listed above and some may still apply into adulthood, but some additional issues for older children through to adults might include:

  • Difficulties taking notes
  • Difficulties planning and writing essays, letters or reports
  • Difficulties reading and understanding new terminology
  • Quality of work is erratic
  • Difficulties revising for examinations
  • Struggles to communicate knowledge and understanding in exams
  • Feels that the effort put in does not reflect performance or results
  • Forgets names and factual information, even when familiar
  • Struggles to remember things such as a personal PIN or telephone number
  • Struggles to meet deadlines
  • Struggles with personal organisation (finances/household, arrives at lessons with the wrong books, forgets appointments)
  • Difficulties filling in forms or writing cheques
  • Only reads when necessary and never for pleasure
  • Develops work avoidance tactics to disguise difficulties and/or worries about being promoted/taking professional qualifications
  • Difficulties become exacerbated when under pressure of time

If you or your child is showing a number of the signs as indicated above, and is struggling, give me a call on 07727 298 806 to see how I can help you.

Phone: 07727298806
Office 2, The Barns, Farm Road
Caddsdown Industrial Park, Bideford, North Devon EX39 3BT