Dyslexia is one of several Specific learning disorders. Specific learning disorders are neurodevelopmental disorders often diagnosed during early elementary school but are at times not identified until later in school and sometimes not until adulthood. They are characterized by persistent impairment in at least one of three major areas: reading, written expression, and/or math.

Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder of reading which is characterized by problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding). Dyslexia also impacts the areas of the brain that process language.

Severity varies, but the condition often becomes apparent as a child starts learning to read.

Before school

Signs that a young child may be at risk of dyslexia include:

  • Late talking

  • Learning new words slowly

  • Problems forming words correctly, such as reversing sounds in words or confusing words that sound alike

  • Problems remembering or naming letters, numbers and colors

  • Difficulty learning nursery rhymes or playing rhyming games

School age

Once your child is in school, dyslexia signs and symptoms may become more apparent, including:

  • Reading well below the expected level for age

  • Problems processing and understanding what he or she hears

  • Difficulty finding the right word or forming answers to questions

  • Problems remembering the sequence of things

  • Difficulty seeing (and occasionally hearing) similarities and differences in letters and words

  • Inability to sound out the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word

  • Difficulty spelling

  • Spending an unusually long time completing tasks that involve reading or writing

  • Avoiding activities that involve reading

Teens and adults

Dyslexia signs in teens and adults are similar to those in children. Some common dyslexia signs and symptoms in teens and adults include:

  • Difficulty reading, including reading aloud

  • Slow and labor-intensive reading and writing

  • Problems spelling

  • Avoiding activities that involve reading

  • Mispronouncing names or words, or problems retrieving words

  • Trouble understanding jokes or expressions that have a meaning not easily understood from the specific words (idioms), such as "piece of cake" meaning "easy"

  • Spending an unusually long time completing tasks that involve reading or writing

  • Difficulty summarizing a story

  • Trouble learning a foreign language

  • Difficulty memorizing

  • Difficulty doing math problems

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2017, July 22). Dyslexia. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 27, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dyslexia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353552#:~:text=Dyslexia%20is%20a%20learning%20disorder,the%20brain%20that%20process%20language.