Dyslexia Symptoms in children 6 years old to adult




1. They often have a high IQ, but do not do well academically, especially in written schoolwork and tests.

2. They are generally somewhat behind in their classwork but not enough to get them noticed as having issues and needing an IEP (Individual Education Program) by the school to get them tested for Learning Disabilities. Many parents of Dyslexic students we know will tell us of their frustration with the teachers and school representatives not agreeing there is a problem. They are called "slow developers" and will catch up when they are ready. But they never catch up; they continue to fall farther and farther behind. They are told to wait and see how their children are doing in the fourth grade as many outgrow certain issues by the third grade. The problem is by that point a lot could have been done to improve their reading, spelling, writing and comprehension. By grade four it is more difficult to catch them up as much as they could have in kindergarten, grade one or two.

3. They are generally bright, articulate and complex thinkers but are struggling to learn how to spell, read, write and do arithmetic at the same level as their peers.

4. Teachers tell their parents their Dyslexic child is lazy, dumb, careless, immature, not paying attention, they ask too many questions so obviously they are not paying attention, not trying hard enough, or they are behavior problem and acting out in class.

5. They often feel dumb and don't understand why their class mates are able to understand the school work but they can't. They develop self esteem issues and "self limiting beliefs. If they can't spell, read and write they can't learn anything so they stop trying.

6. They cover up their weaknesses by compensating or adapting. Examples: -many develop their own ways of reading,spelling, writing,etc. -they look at pictures in books and figure out the written words they don't know or by guessing from their shape or the context of the text. -they listen to someone read a story or information while they look at the pages that are being read and remembering what is read. Then when someone wants them to read the page, the Dyslexic student will repeat what they heard and use the "picture" of the text and any accompanying pictures to remember the words. -being class clowns to divert attention away from themselves. -trying to avoid writing in class as much as possible.

7. They are easily upset and anxious in school because of their difficulties and might even try to avoid going to school.

8. Talented in art, drama, music, sports, mechanics and story-telling.

9. They seem to lose track of time and "Zone out".

10. They learn best with concrete, real information hands-on demonstrations, personal experience, experimentation, observation of cause and effect in the real world, visual aids and manipulatives.

11. They can worry about feeling or seeing non-existent movement while reading, writing, or copying.

12. They seem to have difficulty with their vision, yet eye exams don't reveal a problem. (often convergence and/or tracking problems or Meares Irlen Syndrome)

13. Extremely observant, or lacks depth perception and peripheral vision. Or they hear sounds most people don't.

14. They can have hyper-sensitivity to their environment: bright light hurts their eyes (one child told me that bright sunny light made him feel like he was melting), loud sounds or music can hurt their ears, very sensitive to noises that sound like scratching nails on a chalk board, they may like to wear a lot clothes or certain types of material irritates them on their skin but there are no rashes, too many people in a room can make them feel claustrophobic or certain textures in their mouth "feel funny".

15. They can have a dominant left ear instead of right which is usually the case with left brain dominant people. Dyslexics can tend to turn their right ear to what they are listening to to hear better. It's more difficult however to process information with the right ear. Tomatis, A.A. (1978). Education and dyslexia. Fribourg: AIAPP. Tomatis, A.A. (1996). The Ear and Language. Dorval. Ontario: Moulin.

'If the left ear is dominant, two problems arise: 1. The sounds from the left ear go first to the right brain hemisphere, and must then cross the corpus collosum connecting the two brain hemispheres to get to the language centre in the left hemisphere. This delays sound reaching the brain by a fraction of a second, causing auditory confusion and possible stuttering or dyslexia. 2. Someone who is left ear dominant relates to sound principally through low frequencies with wavelengths between 35m and 140m, which results in them feeling distanced from the source of the sound. This imparts a feeling of isolation from people s/he tries to communicate with. High frequencies give meaning in language, because they define consonants plus they carry the emotional content of the message.' ~Sound Therapy Perth~

16. Dyslexics have difficulty putting thoughts into words, speak in halting phrases, leaves sentences incomplete, stutters under stress; mispronounces long words, or transposes phrases, words, and syllables when speaking.

17. If not a talented athlete they can be very clumsy, uncoordinated, poor at ball or team sports; have difficulties with fine and/or gross motor skills and tasks or prone to motion-sickness.

18. Dyslexics tend to be ambidextrous more than the general population.

19. They tend to have exceptional long-term memory for experiences, locations, and faces. Young Dyslexics under the age of five can have surprisingly accurate memories of experiences they had when they were very young.

20. Poor memory for sequences, facts and information that has or has not been experienced - alphabet, counting, days of the week, months of the year and in order, the seasons of the year, names and dates in school work, people they meet or know about. But they can remember a surprising amount of information and details of events in their lives, movies or subjects they have interest in. As a Dyslexic I can never remember names or dates but someone can ask me about something I experienced and as long as their question triggers a memory I tend to remember a lot of details. Clients from years before will call up and once I can imagine who they are or their house (never their names) I can remember all kinds of information - their dog had puppies, they went on a vacation to Disneyland, someone was sick and especially all kinds of details of the work we did for them.

21. Dyslexics think primarily with images and feelings, not sounds or words. Some Dyslexics have little internal dialogue and are not thinking very much in words. I compare it to having a movie going on in your head all the time. This is one reason Dyslexics can have trouble finding their words because they are not thinking with them. For example, take a word like "honour". A Dyslexic will see an image or story of honour in their minds or several but cannot remember the word. They will keep mentally searching around bringing up one picture after the other of "honour" hoping one of them will trigger a memory of the word. This is both embarrassing and very frustrating. Add the effort of "writing" these words down and a Dyslexic can give up.

22. They have a strong sense of justice and will stand up for people despite risk to themselves.

23. They tend to be emotionally sensitive and very intuitive.

24. Dyslexics tend to strive for perfection. They will redo something over and over to make it "perfect".

25. Mistakes and symptoms increase dramatically with confusion, time pressure, emotional stress, or poor health.


Dysgraphia (or agraphia) is a deficiency in the ability to print or write, regardless of the ability to read and is not due to intellectual impairment.
Dysgraphia Issues


1. The student tends to not capitalize the first letters on names or starting sentences.

2. The spaces between words are too large or the words are too close together.

3. Capital letters are not sized correctly.

4. Letters such as "t", "d", "p", "g" don't extend properly all the way up or down on the lines.

5. The student will capitalize regular words.

6. They cross out words or erase a lot.

7. They have difficulty keeping letters on the line.

8. Letters are not formed well.

9. They tend to cram letters to close together in a word or too far apart.

10.Many spelling mistakes.

11.They will hold their pencil in an odd grip uncomfortable grip. For example, grip with the thumb on top of the fingers (a "fist grip").

12.They lose their focus of what they are writing due to their concentration on trying to write.

13.They can have pain when writing due to a tight grip on their pencil causing cramping and muscle spasms in the arm and shoulder (sometimes in the rest of the body). Pain usually starts in the center of the forearm and then spreads along the nervous system to the entire body. This pain can get worse or even appear when a dysgraphic is stressed. People experiencing this pain from Dysgraphia often do not express how they are feeling but they don't realize it's unusual. Sufferers do not know that it is not normal to experience this type of pain with writing.

14.For some people with dysgraphia, they no longer write, and just type everything, so they no longer feel this pain.

16.Inability to flex (sometimes move) the arm (creating an L-like shape), and general illegibility.

17.They can be slow and methodical with their writing.

19.They may talk to themselves while writing.

20.Reluctance or refusal to complete writing tasks.

21.Young children will often put their head down on the desk to watch the tip of the pencil as they write

22.They have difficulty copying notes off the board which can be slow, painful, and exhausting. The student looks at the board over and over as they are only able to write one or two letters at a time. They often speak the names of the letters under their breath. This process is repeated over and over.

23.The child frequently loses his/her place when copying, misspells when copying, and doesn't always match capitalization or punctuation when copying—even though the child can read what was on the board.

24.They don't understand the limits of the page so their words can be all over the page and margins are often ignored.

25.The child may have a great deal of difficulty learning to write cursive.


1. Their spelling tends to be worse than their reading.

2. They tend to phonetically spell words:

  • any ('eny')
  • many ('meny')
  • does ('dus')
  • said ('sed')
  • they ('thay')
  • because ('becos')
  • island ('iland')
  • eyes('ies')
  • friend ('frend')
  • enough ('enuff')

3. They will have difficulty with vowels and vowel combinations. For example, instead of spelling "them" they will spell it "thm", or "red" instead of "read".

4. They will work very hard to study their spelling words for their spelling test. They may get many or hardly any correct on the test. They will then forget the ones they did get right by the next week or cannot spell them correctly in sentences they write the same week.

5. They also will have great difficulty on a spelling test when the words are read to them in a different order from when they studied them.

6. They continually misspell common sight words which are also called service words or the Dolch list such as "they, what, where, does and because".

7. They will misspell copying something from a book, worksheet or the whiteboard.

8. They usually are erasing and crossing out extensively in their work.

9. They spell the same words many different ways, often on the same worksheet.

10. They misspell many words - especially simple one syllable words such as those on the Dolch List or Service word list. Conversely they often are able to spell words that are longer more complicated words. These words are usually connected to specific things or ideas they have interest learning about. They are often nouns which they can picture in their minds. We had one student who could not spell the simple words but could spell volcano, magma, mantle and lava because he had enjoyed learning about volcanoes and was able to connect the words to real things he could visualize and think about. It's hard to visualize the words "the, again, simple, from" which is important for a Dyslexic to remember the spelling of the words.


1. They can read a word on one page, but won't recognize it on the next page.

2. They have been learning phonics and seem to be sounding out words they know, but can't or won't sound out an unknown word.

3. They read individual words slowly and often incorrectly when they are not in sentences or have pictures around them to give them context.

4. When they are reading they may say the wrong word but it will look similar to the correct one and it will start and end with the same letters.(trail - trial, form - from)

5. They may insert or leave out letters, such as could-cold or star-stair.

6. They may say a word that has the same letters, but in a different sequence, such as who-how, lots-lost, saw-was, or girl-grill.

7. When reading they tend to read without expression or fluency and stumbling over most words or saying them incorrectly.

8. They become tired after reading for only a short time and want to stop.

9. Reading comprehension may be low due to spending so much energy trying to figure out the words. Listening comprehension is usually significantly higher than reading comprehension.

10. They have directionality confusion when reading and writing b-d, p-q, b-p, n-u, or m-w. The letters "b,d,p,q" are the same symbol going left/right and up/down which can be very difficult for a Dyslexic to remember which direction they go.

11. When reading they guess at words by looking at their shape and make mistakes by saying other words that look similar. The words they say will often not be even in context with sentence. (sunrise for surprise, house for horse, while for white, wanting for walking)

12. When reading a story or a sentence, they will substitute a word that means the same thing but doesn't look at all similar, such as trip for journey, fast for speed, or cry for weep

13. They misread, omit, or even adds small function words, such as an, a, from, the, to, were, are, of

14. They omit or change suffixes, saying need for needed, talks for talking, or late for lately.

15. Complains of dizziness, headaches or stomach aches while reading.


People with dyslexia are often gifted in math. Their three-dimensional visualization skills help them "see" math concepts more quickly and clearly than non-dyslexic people. Unfortunately, difficulties in directionality, rote memorization, reading, and sequencing can make the following math tasks so difficult that their math gifts are never discovered.

1. Memorizing addition and subtraction facts

2. Memorizing multiplication tables

3. Remembering the sequence of steps in long division

4. Reading word problems

5. Copying an answer from one spot to a different spot

6. Starting a math problem on the wrong side

7. Showing their work

8. They often "see" math in their head, so showing their work in almost impossible.

9. Doing math rapidly

10. They often excel at higher levels of math, such as algebra, geometry, and calculus if they have a teacher who works around the math problems caused by their dyslexia.


Handwriting sentences, paragraphs, answers to worksheets or tests,stories, reports, essays and any other form of writing is difficult for Dyslexics for many reasons:

1. Writing about anything will tend to take more time for them than other students. This is caused by their difficulty organizing their thoughts into a logical order or formulating a written answer to a question. "They know what they want to say but they can't find the words". They will generally be able to answer a question verbally in a complete and articulate way but get lost when trying to write it.

2. Dysgraphia will slow them down and the effort to print or write legibly will make it very difficult for them to stay organized and focused on what they want to write. Dyslexics are "drawing" letters like they would draw an object. They think primarily in concrete images and letters and words are not real to them. This makes it hard for them to imagine what they look like and then "draw" them.

3. They will try to avoid writing as it takes them forever, tires them out, can cause muscle strain in their arm and pain in their hand, causes them confusion and embarrassment with their classmates.

4. They don't want to write notes off the board or write down information the teacher tells them to write because they can't follow the notes on the board or keep track of what the teacher says.

5. Punctuation is confusing for Dyslexics unless they are trained properly to use it. They also have a tendency not to notice it when reading.

6. They are usually great story tellers with lots of detail but can't write their stories down without great effort and generally lack a logical order to the story. They can start one thought on one part of the page and finish somewhere else.

7. They can write in long sentences without stopping for punctuation breaks. This is due to seeing everything in their minds in images without breaks. They are trying to write what they are thinking which all blends together because they see the whole picture of whatever they are trying to say.

8. They are not sure when to use capitals whether at the beginning of sentences or proper names. Sometimes they will randomly capitalize words in a sentence that shouldn't be a capital letter.

9. They do not understand the difference between sentence fragments and full grammatically correct sentences.

10. They will have difficulty understanding that a sentence needs to have a "subject" (what the sentence is about) and "predicate" (the action of the subject) to have a complete sentence. Dyslexics will write more in sentence fragments.

11. They do not see their errors when trying to proofread whether it is spelling, capitalization, grammar, or organization of sentences.

12. When they read back their work they will say what they wanted to say and not what they wrote. They might not even realize they are doing it.

13. They tend to have difficulty staying within the margins and lines. They see the whole piece of paper as one image and don't know where the limits are or even see them. Sometimes they have trouble with eye tracking or convergence issues when writing on the lines.

14. They may have stabilized text issues which is called Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome or Irlen Syndrome. Black text on white paper can be difficult for the brain to see. This makes writing on white paper hard for them. Colored paper helps with this problem.



Most dyslexic children and adults have significant directionality confusion.

Left-Right confusion:

1. Even adults have to use whatever tricks their mother or teacher taught them to tell left from right. It never becomes rapid and automatic.

2. A common saying in household with dyslexic people is, "It's on the left. The other left." That's why they are b-d confused. One points to the left and one points to the right.

3. They will often start math problems on the wrong side, or want to carry a number the wrong way.

4. They will get confused when reading a magazine that has two columns of text on each page and start reading the wrong column.

Up-Down confusion:

Some children with Dyslexia are also up-down confused. They confuse b-p or d-q, n-u, m-w, s-5

About directionality words: First-last, before-after, next-previous, over-under -Yesterday-tomorrow (directionality in time)

North, South, East, West confusion:

-Adults with dyslexia get lost a lot when driving around, even in cities where they've lived for many years

-Often have difficulty reading or understanding maps.


1. Learning any task that has a series of steps which must be completed in a specific order can be difficult. That's because you must memorize the sequence of steps, and often, there is no logic in the sequence. These tasks are usually challenging for people with dyslexia:

2. Tying shoelaces: this task not only has a series of steps, but many steps have directionality as part of them. Many children do not master this task until they're teenagers.

3. Printing letters: the reason they form letters with such unusual beginning and ending points is that they can't remember the sequence of pencil strokes necessary to form that letter. So they start somewhere and then keep going until the letter looks approximately right.

4. Doing long division: to successfully complete a long division problem, you must do a series of five steps, in exactly the right sequence, over and over again.

5. They will often know how to do every step in the sequence, but if they get the steps out of sequence, they'll end up with the wrong answer.

6. Touch typing: learning to touch type is an essential skill for people with dysgraphia. But it is usually more difficult (and requires much more effort) for a dyslexic child to learn to type. Not only are the keys on the keyboard laid out in a random order (which requires rote memorization).


1. Memorizing non-meaningful facts (facts that are not personally interesting and personally relevant) is extremely difficult for most dyslexic children and adults. In school, this leads to difficulty learning:

2. Multiplication tables

3. Days of the week or months of the year in order

4. Science facts: water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, etc.

5. History facts: dates, names, and places. Dyslexic students do well in history classes that emphasize why some event happened, and the consequences of that event, rather than rote memorization of dates and names.

6. Telling time on a clock with hands

7. People with dyslexia have extreme difficulty telling time on a clock with hands:

8. When asked what time it, they may say something ridiculous, such as, "It's ten past quarter to."

9. They may be able to tell whole hours and half hours (5:00, 5:30, etc.) but not smaller chunks, such as 5:12.

10.Concepts such as before and after on a clock are confusing. Therefore, time and arithmetic is impossible. Getting them a digital clock only helps a little bit. Now they can tell what time it is at the moment, but if you tell them to be home in 15 minutes, they can't figure out when that would be.


"MESSY" People with Dyslexia can have an extremely difficult time organizing their stuff, life, and schedule.


1. They tend to make piles of things rather than to organize them and put them away. For these Dyslexics their "big picture" is not separated into parts.

2. So they have extremely messy bedrooms, lockers, desks, backpacks, purses, offices, and garages.

3. But they do have a tendency to know where individual items of importance to them are in these piles. Often they will also know when something has been moved. I have had some of our clients tell us that they see these "piles" complete in their minds.

4. The messy Dyslexic will generally not know however where the rest of their belongings that are not of importance to them are located.

One young client told us he could see in his mind exactly where the components and programs of his computer games were but could never find his school backpack. He was able to visualize his computer game stuff and their location but he had not committed the visual of his backpack to memory because it was not important to him and he didn't put in one place all the time so he could find it. He would drop it anywhere and since his "visual memory" wasn't turned on at that moment he wasn't even aware he had put it down.

The need to "pile" is interesting. I believe it's about the attempt to organize and keep a Dyslexic's mind calm. I myself as a Dyslexic started out in my early years as a very messy person but I did know exactly or approximately where everything was.

I got tidier over the years for a couple of reasons. I had a house, children and a business to keep organized. My problem with my "piles" was it took too long to find things especially when I was running out the door with children, lunches, their "stuff", my "stuff" and several stops to make.

Secondly I started to realize that when I was organized the "picture" of my life in my mind was calmer.

But I had to work very hard to change and I'm still not very good at it. We as Dyslexics get totally overwhelmed and confused with organization.

I do however have certain piles I feel I need to organize at some point. I have a tendency to make piles in cardboard boxes and carry them with me from home to work. I don't know exactly where or what things are in that pile but I do have the calming knowledge that they are in that box somewhere. By bringing them with me I feel I will find time to organize them. So some parents may have noticed that their children will insist on carrying a pile of stuff with them when going to different places.

I want to emphasize though that they are not being lazy or uncaring as a disorganized person. It is not of importance in their minds and is also not a natural way to be for them so they have no clue how to be tidy.


1. Messy Dyslexics never get anything done on time. We send Christmas cards after Christmas (I thought it would be great to create a line of cards that was like "sorry I missed your birthday cards" - "Sorry I missed sending you a Christmas card on time". My cards would arrive on Christmas day or the day after Christmas and some of the cards were never get out at all.

I send birthday presents to my grandchildren late, get my taxes out at the last minute, try to get tickets to things the day of the event, collect a list of emails to reply to and suddenly months fly by. We mean well but somehow can't get it together. This is also called "procrastination" which can be a huge issue for a Dyslexic.

2. Messy Dyslexics have a terrible time with organizing their life in general.


1. Dyslexics live in the "now", not past or future so schedules can be a frightening part of their lives.

(Still working on the rest of this thought)



1. They can be meticulous, extremely organized, colour-coded and very concerned about everything being the right place. They will know when something has been moved.

2. Dyslexics who are orderly feel that if the space around them is not organized they will be anxious and their mind will be chaotic with images. Their tidiness will help them keep a logical order to any task they are doing. For example, a tidy Dyslexic will often have a very organized clothes closet, arranged by type of clothing and arranged by colour. Generally they will start with white, colours and then black.


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