Warning Signs of Dyslexia

Warning Signs of Dyslexia

If a child or an adult has 3 or more of these warning signs, then their reading and spelling issues may be due to dyslexia.

In Preschool

  • delayed speech
  • mixing up the sounds and syllables in long words
  • chronic ear infections
  • stuttering
  • constant confusion of left versus right
  • late establishing a dominant hand
  • difficulty learning to tie shoes
  • trouble memorizing their address, phone number, or the alphabet
  • can’t create words that rhyme
  • a close relative with dyslexia

In Elementary School

  • dysgraphia (slow, non-automatic handwriting that is difficult to read)
  • letter or number reversals continuing past the end of first grade
  • extreme difficulty learning cursive
  • slow, choppy, inaccurate reading:
    • guesses based on shape or context
    • skips or misreads prepositions (at, to, of)
    • ignores suffixes
    • can’t sound out unknown words
  • terrible spelling
  • often can’t remember sight words (they, were, does) or homonyms (their, they’re, and there)
  • difficulty telling time with a clock with hands
  • trouble with math
    • memorizing multiplication tables
    • memorizing a sequence of steps
    • directionality
  • when speaking, difficulty finding the correct word
    • lots of “whatyamacallits” and “thingies”
    • common sayings come out slightly twisted
  • extremely messy bedroom, backpack, and desk
  • dreads going to school
    • complains of stomach aches or headaches
    • may have nightmares about school

In High School

All of the elementary symptoms plus:

  • limited vocabulary
  • extremely poor written expression
    • large discrepancy between verbal skills and written compositions
  • unable to master a foreign language
  • difficulty reading printed music
  • poor grades in many classes
  • may drop out of high school

In Adults

Education history similar to elementary and high school, plus:

  • slow reader
  • may have to read a page 2 or 3 times to understand it
  • terrible speller
  • difficulty putting thoughts onto paper
    • dreads writing memos or letters
  • still has difficulty with right versus left
  • often gets lost, even in a familiar city
  • sometimes confuses b and d, especially when tired or sick

Since 40% of children and adults with dyslexia also have ADHD, please review the following signs.

Physical Activity


  • Can’t sit still
  • Feels restless
  • Has boundless energy
  • Always fidgeting, restless feet, etc.


  • Couch potato
  • Lethargic, slow, space cadet
  • Physically there, mentally gone

Frequent Mood Swings

  • Feels emotions intensely
  • Higher highs and lower lows
  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • May have rage attacks


  • Trouble deciding what to pay attention to
  • What’s most important
  • Trouble getting started on a task
  • Often feels overwhelmed
  • Trouble staying focused on repetitive tasks
  • Until the task is complete
  • Can’t do homework independently
  • Trouble shifting attention
  • To a new task

Highly Distractable

  • Distracted by any change in environment
  • Any noise, movement, or smell
  • Also distracted by their own thoughts
  • Daydreamer
  • Can’t stay focused for long
  • Except Nintendo-type games or TV
  • Or a new or scary activity
  • May hyperfocus on a hobby
  • Starts many projects
  • But rarely finishes them


  • Can’t wait to be called on
  • Blurts out answers in class
  • Extremely impatient
  • Difficult to wait for his/her turn
  • Often acts before thinking
  • Doesn’t seem to learn from mistakes

Doesn’t Listen Well

  • Confused by multi-step oral directions

No tolerance for boredom

  • May start arguments if things are too calm

Time Management

  • Always rushing; can’t slow down
  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Hates to doublecheck
  • Doesn’t use class time well
  • Feels rushed by teachers & parents
  • Puts most things off until the last minute

Odd Sleep Cycles

  • Night owl, hates to go to bed
  • Difficult to wake up in the morning
  • May be a restless sleeper
  • Bedwetting or sleepwalking

Inconsistent Performance

  • Good days and bad days
  • Some days they can do the schoolwork, other days they can’t.


  • Messy room, desk, backpack
  • Constantly loses or misplaces things

Other Symptoms

  • Chatterbox; talks excessively
  • Interrupts conversations frequently
  • Strong sense of justice; bossy
  • Lots of allergies
  • Terrible penmanship
  • Trouble remembering daily routines
  • Relatives with ADHD