How Do You Know if Your Child Has Dyslexia?

How Do You Know if Your Child Has Dyslexia?

A tired, frustrated boy with dyslexia sits at a table with his head down on his arm, holding up a “Help!” sign

Identifying typical signs of dyslexia in children

Key takeaways: 

  • Dyslexia affects one in five kids
  • It is a learning difference that affects the parts of the brain that process language
  • Common signs include:
    • Difficulty reading
    • Spelling and math issues
    • Mispronouncing words
    • Trouble with rhyming patterns
    • Not recognizing similar-sounding words
    • Actively avoiding reading

As many as one in five kids in the US have a learning difference, like dyslexia. There can be a lot of confusion about what a dyslexia diagnosis means and how it affects the way a child learns. 

One thing we do know is that early diagnosis of dyslexia is essential. It’s important to arm your child with the tools to succeed ASAP, despite the challenges. That’s why knowing the signs of dyslexia matters. 

How do you know if there may be a problem? When is it time to have your child tested? We’ve put together this guide to help.

Defining dyslexia

Dyslexia is not a vision issue but a cognitive one. It affects the areas of the brain that process language. This means your child may experience challenges interpreting and processing letters, words, and numbers. 

The Mayo Clinic explains that dyslexia involves difficulty reading because of problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding).

Types of dyslexia

There are different types or categories of dyslexia. Each one comes with specific learning challenges. They include: 

Phonological or auditory dyslexia – Children in this category struggle to break words down into syllables. They can also struggle to match the right sounds with words. 

Surface or visual dyslexia – Children in this category have trouble recognizing written words. They can also struggle to learn and remember new words. 

Rapid naming deficit – Involves a struggle to name written words and numbers right away.

Double deficit dyslexia – Involves trouble isolating individual sounds in letters or numbers. 

Dyscalculia – Characterized by difficulty with numbers, which can make math a struggle. It can occur on its own or accompany dyslexia.

Each category may require learning specific tools to enable your child to better comprehend visual and auditory information relating to letters, words, and numbers. 

Recognizing signs of dyslexia

Many children are diagnosed with dyslexia once they start school. The signs can be difficult to recognize before age three – four when most children begin learning to read. In fact, teachers are often the first to notice a problem. Still, it’s important for parents to know the signs of dyslexia.

Signs in young children (before preschool):

  • Late talker
  • Trouble learning new words
  • Reversing sounds in words
  • Confusing sound-alike words
  • Trouble naming letters, numbers, and colors
  • Trouble with rhyming games and nursery rhymes

Signs in school-aged children:

  • Reads far below age/grade level
  • Struggles with spelling
  • Actively avoids reading
  • Trouble processing and understanding things he/she hears
  • Trouble finding the right word or answering questions
  • Struggles to remember sequences of things
  • Struggles to tell similar-sounding words/letters apart
  • Takes a long time to complete reading/writing tasks
  • Trouble pronouncing unfamiliar words

Most children are diagnosed in the first few years of school. However, it is sometimes missed or mistaken for laziness, inattention, or a behavior issue. 

Signs of dyslexia in older children & teens:

  • Reading well below age/grade level
  • Messy handwriting with a lot of spelling mistakes
  • Confusing similar-sounding words
  • Constantly saying “um” when reading out loud
  • Trouble remembering names, phone numbers & dates
  • Struggles to solve math problems
  • Trouble learning a foreign language
  • Takes a long time to finish tests or respond to questions

Children at this age may also experience emotional issues such as anxiety and low self-esteem. They may act out as a way to hide their embarrassment. 

Find help at Learning Lab 

Learning Lab is a specialized center for children who struggle with dyslexia and other learning differences. We provide a nurturing environment that encourages students to reach their potential. With expert guidance, children with dyslexia are equipped with the tools to decode words and numbers and succeed in school.

Our I3 Lab offers “Intensive, Individualized Instruction” to help children who struggle with reading, writing, and math. 

We use evidence-based curriculum, including:

  • Fast ForWord® Reading Program
  • Barton Reading and Spelling System© 
  • Foundation in SoundsTM
  • Seeing Stars®
  • DreamBox Math© 
  • TouchMath© 

We also work with children with a variety of conditions, including:

  • Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
  • Mild to moderate autism
  • Other learning differences

If your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia – or you suspect he or she might have it – we can administer Dyslexia Screenings to verify the condition and determine the category. 

Learning Lab recently expanded our Davie location in order to better serve the Broward community. We offer in-person and online learning support to children throughout Davie, Cooper City, Plantation, and Fort Lauderdale. Contact us today for more information.



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