Reading Ready: Dyslexia Symptoms by Age

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Learn how to evaluate your child for signs of dyslexia and how to navigate a diagnosis

The ability to read serves as a gateway for so many of life’s advantages. A solid understanding and appreciation of reading has an abundance of benefits when it comes to learning about ourselves and the world around us. It can provide an ever-present escape into imagination and comfortable solitude and acts as an essential element to mastering other academic subjects.

Recognizing letters, understanding their associated sounds, and deciphering the meaning of words are foundational aspects of language. Consequently, children who struggle with reading face several challenges if they don’t receive appropriate intervention.

Proper assessment is the first step; learn how to determine if your child simply needs some extra tutoring or may have a learning disability such as dyslexia, and about the steps you can take to help them read and succeed.

Understanding dyslexia

Dyslexia is more than a learning disorder about reading; it can also present obstacles with spelling, speaking, writing, and rhyming. Dyslexia relates to language in general and doesn’t present itself with the same symptoms in all children.

Some children have difficulty sounding out words, while others find reading comprehension to be a challenge. Dyslexia can have a negative impact not only on academics but also on a child’s self-esteem if they feel intellectually inferior to their peers or perpetually frustrated in school.

Dyslexia can have several risk factors and causes, including:

  • A family history of learning disabilities
  • Premature birth or low birth weight
  • Differences in the parts of the brain that process language
  • Exposure to nicotine, alcohol, drugs, or infection during brain development of the fetus

Read the following list of warning signs by age to determine if your child might benefit from an assessment.

Preschool:

Children often show signs of being dyslexic before they’re in school, such as:

  • Being a late talker
  • Slow to expand their vocabulary with new words
  • Issues recognizing or memorizing letters of the alphabet, numbers, or colors
  • Challenges with learning nursery rhymes or recognizing rhyming words
  • Trouble with sequences or telling a story in a logical order
  • Difficulty with pronunciation, including reversing sounds or mixing up words that sound alike

School-aged

Children are typically diagnosed once they are school-aged since their symptoms become more apparent. Watch out for:

  • Reading below the expected grade level
  • Difficulty with processing and understanding spoken information
  • Challenges recognizing similar shapes and patterns in letters or words
  • Inability to sound out words or blend letter sounds together
  • Problems with spelling or recognizing sight words
  • Confuses letters that look the same, such as “b” and “d” or “p” and “q”
  • Skips over small transitional words like “for,” “of,” “but,” “or,” and “and” when reading out loud
  • Avoiding activities that involve reading or struggling for an extended time to complete them
  • Trouble finding the right word; using general terms like “stuff” or “things” as a substitute

Tweens, teens, and adults

Some children aren’t diagnosed until later in life. Common signs of dyslexia in older children and adults are similar to those in school-aged children, and include:

  • Difficulty with reading, spelling, or writing
  • Mispronouncing names or words
  • Challenges retrieving the right word to complete their thought
  • Confusion understanding idioms, puns, or wordplay
  • Avoiding any activities that include reading
  • Issues with summarizing a story they’ve heard, read, or tell
  • Trouble with other subjects, like learning a foreign language or math
  • Spending an unusual amount of time on reading or writing-related activities

Early assessment and intervention are the two most critical components to succeeding academically, socially, and, eventually, out in the world as an adult if your child has dyslexia. Address your concerns with your child’s teacher and pediatrician and ask for resources that could help you secure an evaluation and treatment if necessary.

Last, but not least, make sure your child knows that dyslexia is common in children and not an indicator of their intelligence. With patience, understanding, and professional guidance, your child can thrive despite having a learning disability.

At Learning Lab, we support the full “ecosystem” of children who are smart but struggle in a traditional school setting. Our personalized approach for each child teaches the way that they learn and paves the way for a collaborative educational experience between learners, their families, and school communities. Find out how we can help your child.

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