Dyslexia Signs: Pt. #1

In our previous blog, we gave you a broad overview of what dyslexia is and how it impacts students who experience it. This week, we wanted to further equip you. That is why this week’s blog will describe signs that your student could be struggling with dyslexia. As the signs are different depending on the age of the student, we decided to break this blog up into two parts: younger students and older students. This first blog will focus on the signs of dyslexia in students in preschool through second grade, and next week’s blog will focus on third grade students through high school aged students.

We want to emphasize that working from home is an OPPORTUNITY to look out for these signs. Since you and your student are most likely working in close spaces, you have the chance to really think through how you can best support your student academically during this time and beyond.

With dyslexia, the earlier intervention the better. The importance of early intervention is a twofold. First, early intervention gives you a better chance of closing the gap. We often say that until third grade, students are learning to read. However, after third grade, students are reading to learn. Early intervention with a language-based learning difference makes it easier for students to stay on track in school. Secondly, early intervention provides a brief window for educational experts to help support the student before they give up due to discouragement or frustration. School is all about reading and writing. For someone with undiagnosed dyslexia, reading is accompanied by feelings of dread. We share these things to encourage you to take the following signs to heart. 

Preschool Aged

Dyslexia impacts student’s phonemic awareness. This is why preschool aged students with dyslexia will often struggle with nursery rhymes. Preschool aged dyslexic students will have trouble filling in a missing word. The student could also have difficulty producing or remembering a rhyme. Another frequent indicator of dyslexia at this age is confusion with the alphabet song. Often dyslexic students will sing the alphabet song with the letters out of order or struggle to remember the song altogether. Preschool students with dyslexia also frequently have a hard time naming things like colors, numbers, letters of their name, or letters of the alphabet.

Primary Aged (Kindergarten-2nd Grade)

At this point, students are learning how to decode words and, ultimately, how to read. As mentioned previously, this time is CRUCIAL. Why? Because this is when students can spend time learning to read prior to reading to learn. These early years are the most formative for students, which is why they are arguably the most important. Students with dyslexia in this age group will often have a hard time with letter names. This is because the connection between letter sounds and symbols is often hard for dyslexic students to make. These students will frequently mix up letters that are directionally similar (like b and d). They find directionally similar letters visually confusing, which parallels with sound confusion as well.

Students within this age bracket will also struggle with cognates. The letters b and p are cognates because their sounds are produced the same way.  However, one sound is voiced while the other is not. When you produce the sound that the letter b makes, your voice box vibrates. However, when you produce the sound the letter p makes, your voice box does NOT vibrate. Both sounds are produced the same way, but one is voiced while the other is not. Students with dyslexia often confuse these cognate pairs. They will pronounce b as p and vice versa. When we teach children about pronouncing cognates, we make their lessons multi-sensory. We will have them put their fingers on their voice box and bring out a mirror. This way, students are speaking, hearing, touching, and seeing all at the same time.

What’s important to emphasize here is dyslexia is not a hearing issue. Students with dyslexia have a hard time discerning sounds in a word or individual sound chunks that make up a word. Often these students will have poor spelling as they have a hard time remembering letter and word sequences.

While this list is not exhaustive, these are some of the common signs of dyslexia we see from students who come through our doors. If you notice any of these signs in your child, I would encourage you to reach out to us at Wright Academics. We are experienced with dyslexia, and we have a whole host of resources available to support you, your family, and your student.

If you are interested in learning more about our academic coaching or the resources we recommend, click HERE.

About Evelyn Wright

Evelyn Wright is the Director of Wright Academics, a tutoring business created to target kids’ specific needs. Her passion is helping students and families succeed so that they achieve their maximum potential in and out of the classroom.

With over 25 years of experience working with children and their families in public and private schools, as well as in private practice, Evelyn’s focus is understanding the individual’s learning profile, guiding families of children with learning differences and matching students to the tutor or coach that best fits the student. She believes in not only matching educational needs to the right tutor’s skills, but matching a student to the tutor with the right personality.