The symptoms of dyslexia vary in severity from person to person. Each individual affected by the condition has their own set of particular strengths and weaknesses regarding their ability to comprehend, interpret and relay verbal information.
In order to aid diagnosis, the symptoms for dyslexia can be grouped according to a child’s age.
Pre-school age children
Dyslexia is challenging to diagnose in children of this age, who have widely varying learning curves. However, features of the condition among children of this age group include:
- Slow development of speech.
- Difficulty ordering words correctly and tendency to jumble letters. For example, the child may say “tevelision” instead of “television.”
- Difficulty compiling sentences properly in order to express themselves.
- Poor appreciation or understanding of rhymes.
- Lack of interest in learning the letters of the alphabet.
Primary school age children
The symptoms of dyslexia generally become easier to recognise in children of primary school age. Some features of the condition among children aged 5 to 12 include:
- Difficulty understanding the meaning of a written word.
- Poor phonological awareness, which refers to a person’s ability to understand how a word is comprised of smaller units of sound. This is essential for spelling and reading. For example, a child with dyslexia may not understand how replacement of the letter “m” in the word “men” with the letter “t” makes it “ten.”
- Poor verbal memory. Verbal memory is the ability to recall information such as a short list of items or a few instructions. For example, the child may have trouble remembering what they are supposed to do when told to “go and get a cup, fill it with water and take it to the lady.”
- Difficulty learning sequences such as the letters of the alphabet or the days of the week.
- Unpredictable and inconsistent spelling, with a tendency to place letters and figures the wrong way around.
- Difficulty reading out loud.
- Visual disturbances when reading. For example the child may describe seeing letters move around or becoming blurred.
- Children may be able to answer questions well orally but then have difficulty writing down what they said.
- Poor ability to write and difficulty taking dictation or even copying from text.
- Lack of organizational skills and poor time management.
- Shy and introverted behavior due to fear of speaking or reading incorrectly. These children may also suffer from a low self esteem and get targeted by bullies.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc