About Dyslexia


  • Developmental dyslexia is the most common form of learning difficulty. It is characterized by unexpected problems with reading in children and adults who otherwise possess the intelligence and motivation considered necessary for accurate and fluent reading. Dyslexia is often accompanied by difficulty with writing and spelling.​


  • There is no known cause for dyslexia. It is not connected with other issues, such as vision impairment, hearing impairment, or inadequate reading instruction, though these factors may contribute to the difficulty. The presence of dyslexia does not indicate a lack of intelligence. The core weakness underlying dyslexia is a unique, neurologically based deficit in processing phonetic information. It results in difficulty in decoding words, slower reading speed, and/or poor reading comprehension.​


  • Over 40 million Americans suffer from dyslexia. Among school children, the prevalence of dyslexia is estimated to range from 5 to 17 percent. It can affect both boys and girls, and is more common in children whose parents also have difficulty with reading and writing. If left untreated, dyslexia can disrupt both educational and social development, causing problems coping with school or work.


Signs of Dyslexia:

(Source: Shaywitz, Sally. Overcoming Dyslexia. Vintage Books USA, 2005.)

Copyright 2017, The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity 

A number of signs or symptoms can accompany dyslexia. An individual can exhibit any or all of the characteristics, in varying combinations. Parents and teachers should be alert to signs that may indicate the presence of dyslexia, and should be prepared to seek formal testing to obtain a diagnosis and interventions.

The Preschool Years​

  • Trouble learning common nursery rhymes, such as “Jack and Jill”

  • Difficulty learning (and remembering) the names of letters in the alphabet

  • Seems to be unable to recognize letters in his/her own name

  • Mispronounces familiar words; persistent “baby talk”

  • Doesn’t recognize rhyming patterns like cat, bat, rat

  • A family history of reading and/or spelling difficulties

Keep in Mind: 
It is never too early to begin good practices to enrich learning and develop a foundation for later reading.

Kindergarten & First Grade



  • Curiosity

  • A great imagination

  • The ability to figure things out

  • Eager embrace of new ideas

  • Getting the gist of things

  • A good understanding of new concepts

  • Surprising maturity

  • A larger vocabulary for the age group

  • Enjoyment in solving puzzles

  • Talent at building models

  • Excellent comprehension of stories read or told to him


  • Reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters on the page–will say “puppy” instead of the written word “dog” on an illustrated page with a dog shown

  • Does not understand that words come apart

  • Complains about how hard reading is, or “disappearing” when it is time to read

  • A history of reading problems in parents or siblings.


  • Cannot sound out even simple words like cat, map, nap

  • Does not associate letters with sounds, such as the letter b with the “b” sound

 Second Grade and Up





School and Life

  • Trouble with remembering dates, names, telephone numbers, random lists

  • Has trouble finishing tests on time

  • Extreme difficulty learning a foreign language

  • Messy handwriting

  • Low self-esteem that may not be immediately visible​


  • Excellent thinking skills: conceptualization, reasoning, imagination, abstraction

  • Learning that is accomplished best through meaning rather than rote memorization

  • Ability to get the “big picture”

  • A high level of understanding of what is read to him/her

  • The ability to read and to understand at a high level overlearned (that is, highly practiced) words in a special area of interest; for example, if his hobby is restoring cars, he may be able to read auto mechanic magazines

  • Improvement as an area of interest becomes more specialized and focused, when he develops a miniature vocabulary that he can read

  • A surprisingly sophisticated listening vocabulary

  • Excellence in areas not dependent on reading, such as math, computers, and visual arts, or excellence in more conceptual (versus factoid-driven) subjects, such as philosophy, biology, social studies, neuroscience, and creative writing


  • Very slow in acquiring reading skills.  Reading is slow and awkward

  • Trouble reading unfamiliar words, often making wild guesses because he cannot sound out the word

  • Doesn’t seem to have a strategy for reading new words

  • Avoids reading out loud​


  • Searches for a specific word and ends up using vague language, such as “stuff” or “thing” a lot, without naming the object.

  • Pauses, hesitates, and/or uses lots of “umm’s” when speaking

  • Confuses words that sound alike, such as saying “tornado” for “volcano,” substituting “lotion” for “ocean”

  • Mispronunciation of long, unfamiliar, or complicated words

  • Seems to need extra time to respond to questions.​

Young Adults & Adults​


  • The maintenance of strengths noted in the school-age period

  • A high learning capability

  • A noticeable improvement when given additional time on multiple-choice examinations

  • Noticeable excellence when focused on a highly specialized area, such as medicine, law, public policy, finance, architecture, or basic science

  • Excellence in writing if content and not spelling are important

  • A noticeable articulateness in the expression of ideas and feelings

  • Exceptional empathy and warmth, and feeling for others

  • Success in areas not dependent on rote memory

  • A talent for high-level conceptualization and the ability to come up with original insights

  • Big-picture thinking

  • Inclination to think outside of the box

  • A noticeable resilience and ability to adapt​


  • A childhood history of reading and spelling difficulties

  • While reading skills have developed over time, reading still requires great effort and is done at a slow pace

  • Rarely reads for pleasure

  • Slow reading of most materials—books, manuals, subtitles in films

  • Avoids reading aloud​

School & Life

  • Despite good grades, will often say that he is dumb or is concerned that peers think that he is dumb

  • Penalized by multiple-choice tests

  • Frequently sacrifices social life for studying

  • Suffers extreme fatigue when reading

  • Performs rote clerical tasks poorly


  • Pausing or hesitating often when speaking

  • using lots of “um’s” during speaking, lack of glibness

  • using imprecise language, for example, “stuff,” “things,” instead of the proper name of an object

  • Not fluent, not glib, often anxious while speaking

  • Often pronounces the names of people and places incorrectly; trips over parts of words

  • Difficulty remembering names of people and places; confuses names that sound alike

  • Struggles to retrieve words; has the “it was on the tip of my tongue” moment frequently

  • Rarely has a fast response in conversations and/or writing; struggles when put on the spot

  • Spoken vocabulary is smaller than listening vocabulary

  • Avoids saying words that might be mispronounced

  • Earlier oral language difficulties persist​