The signs of dyslexia can occur early on in a child’s life, but it is not always clear to parents and educators what to look for.   Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects reading.  But it often affects other areas of a person’s daily functioning as well.   Here are some of the signs to look out for at every age:

Signs of Dyslexia in the Preschool Years

  • Children are late to start talking
  • Slow in learning new words
  • Difficulty learning common nursery rhymes, such as “Jack and Jill”
  • Trouble matching letters to the sounds they represent
  • Not being able to recognise the sounds in their own name
  • Mispronouncing relatively common, everyday words.
  • Struggles to recognise and produce rhyming words

Reading is largely a language based task and early signs of dyslexia may show in the way children acquire language at this age.

Signs of Dyslexia during the Foundation Phase

The foundation phase spans over the first three years of formal schooling, namely Grades 1 to 3.  During this time, children with Dyslexia may:

  • Avoid having to do literally tasks or become teary when it is time to read
  • “Read” words that have no connection to the  letters on the page.  For instance they may say “crocodile” for the word “egg”
  • Make up a story based on the illustrations on the page, rather than read the words.
  • Read from memory.  Reciting word-for-word a book that had been read to them earlier, but being unable to identify any individual words when pointed out.
  • Struggles to break words up into smaller sounds

The foundation phase is the ideal time to identify and remediate signs of Dyslexia.

Dyslexia in the Intermediate Phase

  • Avoids having to read out loud
  • Very slow in learning new reading skills and prefers to only read stories they know
  • Has no strategy for reading unfamiliar words
  • Often simply guesses what words are instead of decoding them
  • Reading is slow and awkward
  • Poor spelling
  • Struggles to finish tests on time
  • Does well in maths, but poorly in items with word sums
  • Has word finding difficulties and will often simply say “the thing” or “stuff” when they cannot name the object
  • Really struggles to learn a second language

Even though remedial intervention is hugely important if children show signs of Dyslexia at this age, they may also need accommodations in this regard.

Signs to look for in High School Children

  • Has developing some coping strategies, but on the whole reading is still slow and requires a lot of effort
  • A long history of difficulties in reading and spelling
  • Avoids reading as far as possible, especially during leisure time
  • Often does significantly better in oral tests versus tests that require reading
  • Substitutes similar sounding words when reading
  • Difficulty remembering names of people and places
  • May be slow in responding to questions or conversation
  • Vocabulary might be limited compared to peers

Signs of dyslexia may be very subtle in the high school years as children have often developed some coping strategies to try and hide their difficulty in reading.  It may also have had a very negative effect on their self-esteem throughout the years.  It is thus vital that dyslexia is diagnosed as early as possible.

For more information about the dyslexia, or to book a consultation, contact Anel Annandale at 083 711 5267 or via email at

Check out our Instagram and Facebook pages for more free tips and advice.