Signs and symptoms commonly associated with Dyslexia

Young girl suffering from Dyslexia struggling to read

Is your child displaying some of these signs of Dyslexia?

There are about 27 accepted definitions of Dyslexia and experts cannot seem to agree on exactly what this learning disorder is and how it presents itself in young children.

There are dozens of Dyslexia Tests on the market, but not one single universally accepted test to try and identify this learning disorder. For this reason it is often best to have a global assessment done so that all aspects of reading and learning can be examined closely.

Here are some of the things I look out for when trying to determine whether a child does indeed suffer from Dyslexia:

  • Eyesight and Hearing. It seems obvious, but more often than not I find that children who have been identified to have “reading difficulties” simply have difficulty seeing what they are reading or clearly hearing the individual sounds in words.  For this reason it is important to make sure that the child has had a recent hearing test and eye test to make sure that this is not where the problem lies.
  • IQ. The most simple definition of Dyslexia describes it as: “The inability to read, despite adequate intelligence and adequate exposure”. A child with low cognitive ability will most likely struggle with reading, but also with mathematics and with acquiring educational concepts and as such cannot be said to be suffering from a specific word reading ability such as Dyslexia.
  • Age / Grade level.  Reading is a very complex task and keeping in mind the definition used above, I feel that one cannot describe a child as dyslexic before we are certain that he / she has had adequate exposure to reading material and reading instruction.  For instance, I am very cautious about diagnosing Dyslexia in children before they reach term 2 of the grade 3 year as it is still perfectly normal for them to struggle somewhat with learning letter / sound combinations and then sequencing these into words.
  • Presence of other learning difficulties.  Following the same train of thought as the point above, it is very important to try and establish whether other learning difficulties such as ADD / ADHD might be impacting on a child’s ability to remember what he has been taught with regards to reading. A child who is highly distractible and has not been concentrating during literacy lessons simply cannot be said to have had adequate exposure to reading instruction.  When another learning difficulty such as ADD/ADHD is identified it is important to first address this issue and then to re-assess the child’s functioning in reading only once it is felt that the learning difficulty is being effectively managed.
  • Large discrepancy between Verbal IQ and Non-Verbal IQ scores. Most intelligence tests give a measure of a child’s ability to reason using language (Verbal IQ) compared to his ability to analyse and solve problems using visual reasoning and logical thinking (Non-verbal IQ). If a very large discrepancy exists in a child’s scores on these two measures (typically the Verbal IQ score is much lower that the Non-Verbal IQ score) it might indicate the need to further investigate a possible diagnosis of Dyslexia.
  • Sequencing problems: Children who find it hard to follow a sequence will battle to read words (as these are simply sequences of letters).
  • Mirror writing / reading (also known as reversals). Children might confuse similar looking letters and numbers such as b/d; p/q; t/f; 2/5.  Although this is not always the case.
  • Auditory discrimination difficulties:  A child with auditory discrimination difficulties might not be able to distinguish between similar sounding words or letters such as bath / bass; though / vow; shake / shape.  It is important to remember that auditory processing relates to the way the brain interprets auditory information and as such encompasses much more than just hearing.  For this reason it is important to test a child’s auditory discrimination abilities even if a recent hearing test shows that he has adequate hearing.
  • Inability to analyse and synthesise words. Many children are able to identify sound / letter combinations (i.e. they know their letters) but are unable to read these letters when they appear in words or are unable to tell which letter the word “mat” starts with or end with.
  • The inability to remember which letters represent which sounds.  I find that children with Dyslexia can often remember the appropriate letter names (e.g Bee for B; Es for S; Kay for K) but they find it much harder to remember which sounds these letters represent – for instance the letter A has different pronunciations in the words apple / after / paper.
  • Inability to decode words.  Many dyslexic children are unable to effectively  use word attack skills (sounding out the word) when faced with unfamiliar words and will rely entirely on trying to remember the word by sight (by remembering the form of the word).

Comments ( 7 )

  • author-hexa-bg

    Dear Anel Annandale,

    Thank you for the insightful explanation of the variances, My son was assessed and diagnosed with Dyslexia at the age of 6, he has had concessions for spelling and even a reader in Primary school, the school has now asked us to do a re-assessment since he is in Grade seven, my personal opinion is that Dyslexia does not go away, and spending another R3800 on assessment is not going to provide me with any different diagnosis, I would appreciate your opinion on this.

    • author-hexa-bg

      Hi Denash,

      To an extent you are right – Dyslexia is most likely not going to go away and the diagnosis is very unlikely to have changed. However, updated assessments are a requirement in order for a child to keep a concession. It’s a bit of a pain, I know but it is a good way for the IEB and Provincial Departments of Education to keep track of a child’s difficulties and the extent to which they keep affecting him. Think of the concessions as a special “courtesy” (for lack of a better word) that has been granted to your child in recognition of the difficulties that he faces and the school and overseeing departments need to keep making sure that there is adequate grounds to keep allowing him this courtesy. As annoying as it is, I might help to think about from the other way around – R3800 is a relatively small fee to ensure that a struggling child keeps getting the help that he needs. Also, if I’m correct: once he has had the assessment done in Grade 7 the only other time that he will need an updated assessment is in Grade 11 in application to have it recognised for the National Senior Certificate exam. All the best!

  • author-hexa-bg

    Good day
    My daughter is experiencing the same problems as mentioned in the above posts

    What can be done . Please assist me

    • author-hexa-bg

      Hi Loder,

      Intensive remedial reading intervention can make some difference, but once a disorder such as Dyslexia has been diagnosed (through an Educational Assessment) your daughter might also qualify to have someone Read test and exam papers for her (Reader) or to have someone write her answers down (Scribe) or both (Amanuensis) – this will also mean that she can write her tests and exams in a venue separate to that of her peers. She may also qualify for a spelling concession, so that she is not penalised for poor spelling and in very severe cases we can ask for a child to get a second language concession (this usually means that the child still goes to class and still writes tests and exams in that second language subject, but her results are not taken into account as a requirement for promotion). It is vital to have her assessed as soon as possible so that you can get to the bottom of why she struggles and so that we can get the ball rolling on ways to help her.

  • author-hexa-bg

    These explains what is happening to my son …he can’t read or write and he hate books so much and very disruptive in class as a result he becomes agresive

  • author-hexa-bg

    I think my child suffer from this Dyslexia, please how can I help him

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