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Is my child dyslexic?

Signs of dyslexia (Early Years)

The following indicators may suggest that your child has a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) such as dyslexia. Many young children will display these behaviours and make these mistakes. It is the severity of the behaviour and the length of time it persists which give vital clues to identifying a difficulty such as dyslexia.


  • Difficulty learning nursery rhymes
  • Difficulty paying attention, sitting still, listening to stories
  • Likes listening to stories but shows no interest in letters or words
  • Difficulty learning to sing or recite the alphabet
  • A history of slow speech development
  • Muddles words e.g. cubumber, flutterby
  • Difficulty keeping simple rhythm
  • Finds it hard to carry out two or more instructions at one time, (e.g. put the toys in the box, then put it on the shelf) but is fine if tasks are presented in smaller units
  • Forgets names of friends, teacher, colours etc.
  • Poor auditory discrimination
  • Confusion between directional words e.g. up/down
  • Family history of dyslexia/reading difficulties
  • Difficulty with sequencing e.g. coloured beads, classroom routines
  • Substitutes words e.g. "lampshade" for "lamppost"
  • Appears not to be listening or paying attention
  • Obvious 'good' and 'bad' days for no apparent reason

Next steps

There is a large body of research linking speech and language difficulties in early childhood to later literacy problems. Identifying potential speech and language problems as early as possible is really important as much can be done before a child starts school to develop their language skills. This will then support their reading development at school.

If you are worried about your child's speech and language development, speak to your GP or health visitor. If you think your child may be dyslexic, discuss your concerns with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) in your child's early years setting. Early help is vital to reduce the chance of loss of confidence and low self-esteem. A child can only be diagnosed with dyslexia through a Diagnostic Assessment but these are usually only carried out from 7 years old.

More information

Early Help Better Future: A Guide to the Early Recognition of Dyslexia by Jean Augur

Understanding and supporting neurodiversity: Support strategies for families and carers, BDA 2017