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Is my child dyslexic?

Signs of dyslexia (Primary school age)

If a child appears to be struggling with spelling, reading, writing or numeracy, how do you know whether these difficulties are potential indications of dyslexia?

There are some obvious signs such as a 'spiky' profile which means that a child has areas of strong ability alongside areas of weakness. You may also have other family members with similar weaknesses. Remember that not all dyslexic children will display the same weaknesses and abilities.

General signs to look for are:

  • Speed of processing: slow spoken and/or written language
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Forgetting words

Written work

  • Poor standard of written work compared with oral ability
  • Produces messy work with many crossings out and words tried several times, e.g. wippe, wype, wiep, wipe
  • Confused by letters which look similar, particularly b/d, p/g, p/q, n/u, m/w
  • Poor handwriting with many ‘reversals’ and badly formed letters
  • Spells a word several different ways in one piece of writing
  • Makes anagrams of words, e.g. tired for tried, bread for beard
  • Produces badly set-out written work, doesn’t stay close to the margin
  • Poor pencil grip
  • Produces phonetic and bizarre spelling: not age/ability appropriate
  • Uses unusual sequencing of letters or words


  • Slow reading progress
  • Finds it difficult to blend letters together
  • Has difficulty in establishing syllable division or knowing the beginnings and endings of words
  • Unusual pronunciation of words
  • No expression in reading, and poor comprehension
  • Hesitant and laboured reading, especially when reading aloud
  • Misses out words when reading, or adds extra words
  • Fails to recognise familiar words
  • Loses the point of a story being read or written
  • Has difficulty in picking out the most important points from a passage


  • Confusion with place value e.g. units, tens, hundreds
  • Confused by symbols such as + and x signs
  • Difficulty remembering anything in a sequential order, e.g. tables, days of the week, the alphabet


  • Has difficulty learning to tell the time
  • Poor time keeping
  • Poor personal organisation
  • Difficulty remembering what day of the week it is, their birth date, seasons of the year, months of the year
  • Difficulty with concepts – yesterday, today, tomorrow


  • Poor motor skills, leading to weaknesses in speed, control and accuracy of the pencil
  • Memory difficulties e.g. for daily routines, self-organisation, rote learning
  • Confused by the difference between left and right, up and down, east and west
  • Indeterminate hand preference
  • Performs unevenly from day to day


  • Uses work avoidance tactics, such as sharpening pencils and looking for books
  • Seems ‘dreamy’, does not seem to listen
  • Easily distracted
  • Is the class clown or is disruptive or withdrawn
  • Is excessively tired due to amount of concentration and effort required

A cluster of these indicators alongside areas of ability may suggest dyslexia and further investigation may be required.

Next steps

If you suspect that your child may be dyslexic then you should discuss your concerns with your child's teacher, or the school's Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo).

A teacher should consult the school’s SENCo to discuss the next steps and appropriate support. The SEND Code of Practice states that if a teacher suspects that a learner has special educational needs (SEN) then they must inform the child's parents and include them in discussions about what is the best support for their child. They must also tell parents about any special educational provision that is made for their child.

It is advised that appropriate support is put in place as soon as a need is identified. A Diagnostic Assessment is not needed in order for SEN Support to be provided. However, dyslexia can only be formally identified through a Diagnostic Assessment.

To find out more about assessments visit the BDA Diagnostic Assessment webpage.

More information

Understanding and supporting neurodiversity: Support strategies for parents and carers, BDA 2018