Clues to Dyslexia in Early Childhood

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The earliest clues involve mostly spoken language. The very first clue to a language (and reading) problem may be delayed language. Once the child begins to speak, look for difficulties with rhyming, phonemic awareness, and the ability to read common one-syllable words.

The specific signs of dyslexia, both weaknesses and strengths, in any one individual will vary according to the age and educational level of that person. The five-year-old who can't quite learn his letters becomes the six-year-old who can't match sounds to letters and the fourteen-year-old who dreads reading out loud and the twenty-four-year-old who reads excruciatingly slowly. The threads persist throughout a person's life.

The earliest clues involve mostly spoken language. The very first clue to a language (and reading) problem may be delayed language. Once the child begins to speak, look for the following problems:

The preschool years

  • Trouble learning common nursery rhymes such as “Jack and Jill” and “Humpty Dumpty”
  • Difficulty learning (and remembering) the names of letters in the alphabet
  • Seems unable to recognize letters in their own name
  • Doesn’t recognize rhyming patterns like cat, bat, rat
  • Mispronounces familiar words; persistent “baby talk”
  • A family history of reading and/or spelling difficulties (dyslexia often runs in families)

Kindergarten and first grade

  • Reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters on the page — will say “puppy” instead of the written word dog on an illustrated page with a picture of a dog
  • Does not understand that words come apart
  • Does not associate letters with sounds, such as the letter ‘b’ with the /b/ sound
  • Cannot sound out even simple words like cat, map, nap
  • Complains about how hard reading is, or “disappears” when it is time to read
  • A history of reading problems in parents or siblings
  • Complaints about how hard reading is, or running and hiding when it is time to read
  • A history of reading problems in parents or siblings

Strengths: In addition to looking for indications of difficulties in speaking and reading, here are some indications of strengths to look for and applaud in your child:

  • Curiosity
  • Great imagination
  • Ability to figure things out; gets the gist of things
  • Eager embrace of new ideas
  • A good understanding of new concepts
  • Surprising maturity
  • A large vocabulary for the age group
  • Enjoys solving puzzles
  • Talent for building models
  • Excellent comprehension of stories read or told to him

Many of these indicate strengths in higher-level thinking processes.

Excerpted and adapted from: Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level

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Comments

I have a younger brother with dyslexia. It seems that my parents always focused on the positive sides of it when he was growing up; it is great to see that there are indicators that are both positive and negative.

I think I have dyslexia and I want to get better at reading just don't know the steps to take.

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"You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me." — Strickland Gillilan