:: common signs ::

Recognizing Dyslexia

Learning difficulties experienced by people with dyslexia range from mild to severe. Research indicates these learning challenges are not related to general intelligence, but typically result from differences in the phonological components of oral and written language. Phonological components are complex, but when a learner consistently struggles with these types of tasks, they may have dyslexia.

Woman wondering

Oral Language

  • Frequently mispronounces familiar words
  • Difficulty learning nursery rhymes
  • Difficulty recognizing or generating words beginning with the same sound (lamp/lemon)
  • Difficulty recognizing or generating rhyming words (bat/cat)
  • Unable to blend given sounds to say a word (Teacher says /k/-/a/-/t/; student responds “top,” not cat)
  • Difficulty manipulating sounds in words (T: “sand”, take off /s/ to make a new word; student: and)
  • Difficulty counting
  • Difficulty “finding” words to name or explain; uses vague language (ex: stuff)
  • Spoken vocabulary level is smaller than listening vocabulary
  • Seems to need extra time to respond to questions/requests
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  • Difficulty with visual tracking from left to right
  • Difficulty learning the alphabet
  • Difficulty learning sound/symbol relationships (b says b as in bug)
  • Difficulty remembering names and shapes of letters
  • Unable to name alphabet letters or common short words rapidly
  • Frequently transposes the order of letters when reading or spelling
  • Frequently misreads or omits common short words
  • “Stumbles” through longer words
  • Reading errors often do not match written text
  • Frequently unable to retell a short or familiar story accurately
  • Unable to answer questions about details directly stated in a short passage they have read
  • Difficulty making reasonable predictions, and drawing conclusions
  • Slow, laborious oral reading
  • Avoids reading aloud
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Written Language

  • Difficulty putting ideas on paper
  • Often misspells words when writing
  • May do well on weekly spelling tests, but may have spelling mistakes in daily work
  • Makes errors in grammar
  • Difficulty proofreading
  • Writes with little variety in vocabulary
  • Writes stories or descriptions with little detail
  • Writing is disorganized and/or incomplete

Other Indicators

  • History of characteristics of dyslexia experienced by parents and/or siblings
  • Messy handwriting
  • Experiences significant fatigue when reading
  • Trouble remembering dates, names, random lists, etc.
  • Struggles to organize assignments, materials, due dates, etc.
  • Expresses low self-competence and self-esteem

:: common signs ::

Related Learning Disorders

Individuals with dyslexia may have other related disorders. However, you can have dyslexia without other related disorders. Some of the co-existing disorders are described below.

Dysgraphia (Handwriting)

  • Unsure of handedness
  • Poor or slow handwriting
  • Messy and unorganized papers
  • Difficulty copying
  • Poor fine motor skills
  • Difficulty remembering the kinesthetic movements to form letters correctly
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Dyscalculia (Math)

  • Difficulty counting accurately
  • May misread numbers
  • Difficulty memorizing and retrieving math facts
  • Difficulty copying math problems and organizing written work
  • Many calculation errors
  • Difficulty retaining math vocabulary concepts
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Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

  • Variable attention
  • Distractibility
  • Impulsivity
  • Hyperactivity
  • Dyspraxia (Motor skills)
  • Difficulty planning and coordinating body movements
  • Difficulty coordinating facial muscles to produce sounds
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Executive Function/Organization

  • Loses papers
  • Poor sense of time
  • Forgets homework
  • Messy desk
  • Overwhelmed by too much input
  • Works slowly

Taking the Next Step

If your child is having difficulties learning to read and you have confirmed multiple of these characteristics, he or she may need to be evaluated for dyslexia or a related disorder.
Shelly Bayer

Shelly Bayer, PhD

Dr. Shelly Bayer is the Assistant Director for the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at South Dakota State University where she works with faculty and graduate teaching assistants to create a culture of teaching excellence by promoting evidence-based strategies and encouraging professional and personal growth mindsets. Shelly earned her B.A. in English Education from South Dakota State University, her Masters of Education in Literacy (Certified Reading Specialist) from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, and her doctorate in Education Administration – Adult & Higher Education through the University of South Dakota. Prior to her current employment, Shelly taught in public schools in Brookings, SD and Las Vegas, NV. Her educational background combined with her son’s identification as a dyslexic learner inspired her to work to create environments and systems that embrace the strengths of every learner and value each learner’s contributions to the process. Shelly joined the IDA-UMB Board of Directors in April 2018. She was elected as President in July 2021.