Individuals with dyslexia do not all read or spell words backward. They don’t fit the stereotype, so parents, teachers, and other loved ones don’t recognize their symptoms until struggles at school or work start to emerge. But the fact is that may telltale signs begin appearing long before.

ADDitude | By Roberto Olivardia, Ph. D.

Perhaps the most broadly recognized learning disability, dyslexia is defined as a difficulty with spelling and word recognition. While some individuals with dyslexia do read words backwards, this LD manifests differently in different people; it is complex. Symptoms of dyslexia vary from difficulty breaking down words into syllables to trouble with the accuracy, fluency, and comprehension of the material being read.

Diagnostic tools like the Gray Oral Reading Test can determine if a person has dyslexia. But first parents and teachers must learn the following signs of dyslexia so they can consult a specialist.


  • Begins talking later than peers
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Confusion learning left and right
  • Ambidexterity
  • Difficulty learning to tie shoes
  • Trouble with rhymes

Elementary School

  • Messy or illegible handwriting
  • Letter/number reversals
  • Difficulty with cursive writing
  • Slow, choppy, inaccurate reading
  • Often says, “You know what I mean,” because of difficulty finding the right word
  • Poor reading of non-words (like those in Dr. Seuss books)

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