The Importance of Identifying Signs and Symptoms of Dyslexia in Children


Many children go through school with undiagnosed learning differences. Sadly, this increases anxiety and undermines scholastic achievements for these students. The good news is that most states now require universal screening to identify dyslexia risk early. That means educators can start targeted interventions when they are most likely to be helpful.

Symptoms of Dyslexia in Children

When most people hear “dyslexia,” they automatically think of people reading words or writing letters backward. While that can be a sign of the disorder, it is far from the only one. Additionally, it is rarely the first symptom that educators notice.

Symptoms in Young Children

The signs of reading disorders in young children — those up to and including first graders — may or may not be centered around reading. Instead, it is often more beneficial to look for trouble with spelling or letter recognition. Some other symptoms young learners may exhibit include difficulty:

  • Phonetic spelling and decoding
  • Breaking words into syllables
  • Spelling familiar words

Dyslexia assessments can benefit children in this age group since they can identify problems before the students fall behind their peers.

Symptoms in Older Children and Teens

There is an expectation for older children to be more proficient at reading and word decoding than their younger peers. Therefore, they also exhibit different symptoms of dyslexia. In addition to continued trouble with earlier symptoms, older students may also display some of the following behaviors:

  • Avoiding reading opportunities
  • Reading slowly or with difficulty
  • A better comprehension of verbal passages compared to written ones
  • Poor spelling

The Problems With Incomplete and Incorrect Diagnoses

Dyslexia and other learning disorders do not exist in a vacuum. Instead, they are part of the larger, complex narrative of the individuals living with them. Many children diagnosed with dyslexia also show symptoms of other disorders. For example, rates of generalized anxiety disorder and depression are higher in individuals with dyslexia.

In addition to depression and anxiety, the list of co-occurring conditions also includes:

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Auditory disorders other than dyslexia

Is It Dyslexia or Something Else?

An incorrect diagnosis can cause several problems. Among them are delayed intervention and treatment. For example, a student misdiagnosed with ADHD instead of dyslexia or vice versa will not receive proper support at home or school. As a result, they may exhibit more significant behavioral problems that reinforce the original but incorrect diagnosis.

Universal screening can help detect early signs of dyslexia and other learning disorders to help kids get a correct and complete diagnosis early. Visit WPS to learn more about assessment tools to help kids succeed in school — and beyond.

Effective Screening Tools

WPS’s Tests of Dyslexia assessment is an excellent choice. Whether you want a universal screening tool for all students or one to use on children showing symptoms of a learning disability, it allows educators and support professionals to perform a comprehensive evaluation to detect signs of learning disorders early. Join the TOD mailing list to keep up-to-date on The Tests of Dyslexia (TOD™).


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