Indicators of Dyslexia

If a child has several of these indications, further investigation should be made. The child may be dyslexic, or there may be other reasons. This is not a checklist.

Persisting factors.

There are many persisting factors in dyslexia, which can appear from an early age. They will still be noticeable when the dyslexic child leaves school. These include:

  • Obvious 'good' and 'bad' days, for no apparent reason, 
  • Confusion between directional words, e.g. up/down, in/out, 
  • Difficulty with sequence, e.g. coloured bead sequence, later with days of the week or numbers, 
  • A family history of dyslexia/reading difficulties. 


  • Has persistent jumbled phrases, e.g. 'cobbler's club' for 'toddler's club' 
  • Use of substitute words e.g. 'lampshade' for 'lamppost'. 
  • Inability to remember the label for known objects, e.g. 'table, chair'. 
  • Difficulty learning nursery rhymes and rhyming words, e.g. 'cat, mat, sat'. 
  • Later than expected speech development. 

Pre-school non-language indicators.

  • May have walked early but did not crawl - was a 'bottom shuffler' or 'tummy wriggler'. 
  • Persistent difficulties in getting dressed efficiently and putting shoes on the correct feet. 
  • Enjoys being read to but shows no interest in letters or words. 
  • Is often accused of not listening or paying attention. 
  • Excessive tripping, bumping into things and falling over. 
  • Difficulty with catching, kicking or throwing a ball; with hopping and/or skipping. 
  • Difficulty with clapping a simple rhythm. 

Primary school age.

  • Has particular difficulty with reading and spelling. 
  • Puts letters and figures the wrong way round. 
  • Has difficulty remembering tables, alphabet, formulae etc. 
  • Leaves letters out of words or puts them in the wrong order. 
  • Still occasionally confuses 'b' and 'd' and words such as 'no/on'. 
  • Still needs to use fingers or marks on paper to make simple calculations. 
  • Poor concentration. 
  • Has problems understanding what he/she has read. 
  • Takes longer than average to do written work. 
  • Problems processing language at speed. 

Primary school age non-language indicators:

  • Has difficulty with tying shoe laces, tie, dressing. 
  • Has difficulty telling left from right, order of days of the week, months of the year etc. 
  • Surprises you because in other ways he/she is bright and alert. 
  • Has a poor sense of direction and still confuses left and right. 
  • Lacks confidence and has a poor self image. 

Aged 12 or over.

As for primary schools, plus:

  • Still reads inaccurately. 
  • Still has difficulties in spelling. 
  • Needs to have instructions and telephone numbers repeated. 
  • Gets 'tied up' using long words, e.g. 'preliminary', 'philosophical'. 
  • Confuses places, times, dates. 
  • Has difficulty with planning and writing essays. 
  • Has difficulty processing complex language or long series of instructions at speed. 

Aged 12 or over non-language indicators:

  • Has poor confidence and self-esteem. 
  • Has areas of strength as well as weakness.