What Are the Early Signs of Dyslexia?


Widely considered a neurological condition, dyslexia is often present at birth. Therefore, children may start to exhibit signs of the disorder as infants or toddlers. Early signs of dyslexia are not directly related to reading since the youngest learners haven’t developed this skill yet. However, these young children do show signs of dyslexia that, if caught early, can help lead to a diagnosis and proper intervention.

Early Signs of Dyslexia

For many young children, the earliest indications of a learning difference appear as speaking difficulties. For example, many preschoolers will use persistent “baby talk” or have trouble associating simple rhyming words. Another common sign that many young children experience is having trouble recognizing or spelling their names. Some additional early signs of the disorder include:

Trouble learning nursery rhymes

Difficulty remembering the letters of the alphabet and their sounds

Mispronouncing words or letter sounds

Struggling to retell stories they are familiar with

Avoiding story time and follow-along reading activities

A family history of dyslexia

Early signs of dyslexia can vary between individuals and age groups. Any one child may exhibit some or all of the typical symptoms to varying degrees. For example, some children may struggle significantly with speech patterns and letter sounds, while others struggle with rhyming.

Experiencing multiple symptoms does not automatically indicate a severe learning disorder. Each child must undergo personalized screening to assess the type and severity of their learning disparities. Additionally, the screening tool used should take each child’s situation, such as the primary language spoken at home, into consideration.

It is crucial to understand that signs displayed by a toddler or preschooler will be very different from those in a primary school student. However, recognizing early signs through observations and widespread dyslexia assessments can lead to effective interventions.

Early Signs of Dyslexia in Older Children

Signs of dyslexia change as children age and progress through school. Therefore, if

there is no detection in the preschool years, the following behaviors could be indicative of learning difficulties, including dyslexia:

Difficulty decoding simple words

Trouble with phonetic spelling

Avoiding reading and story-based activities

A lack of association between letters and their sounds

Better listening comprehension compared to reading comprehension

Students exhibiting these behaviors and challenges require additional support. Assessments, such as the Tests of Dyslexia (TOD™), can effectively identify dyslexia in children and allow for appropriate intervention.

Impacts of Dyslexia on School Success

Regular and widespread testing for dyslexia and other learning differences is crucial for school success. Children with dyslexia need support specific to their condition to learn effectively, gain self-confidence, and build proper social bonds with classmates.

According to the National Center for Improving Literacy, early identification of learning difficulties helps prevent their cumulative effects, which can stretch beyond academia.  

Assessment Tools for an Early Diagnosis

Blanket screening is an effective strategy for identifying dyslexia in young learners. Visit WPS to learn more about how assessment tools can help kids succeed in school.

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