No two people with dyslexia are exactly alike. No one will have every single
symptom, and the symptoms they do have can range from mild to severe. Clinicians
look for a "constellation" or cluster of symptoms in the following areas.
Also, remember these
problem areas are unexpected when compared to the person's potential and proven
abilities in other areas.
Click on one of these,
or just scroll down to read them all
and kindergarten warning signs
two or more of these warning signs exist, especially if there is dyslexia
or ADHD in the child's family tree, the child should be assessed for
dyslexia at age five and a half. Also, phonemic awareness games and
training should be implemented as a preventive measure.
speech (not speaking any words by the child's first birthday)
up sounds in multi-syllabic words (ex: aminal for animal, mawn lower
for lawn mower, bisghetti for spaghetti, flustrated for frustrated)
to rhyme by age 4
of allergies or stronger and more severe reactions to childhood illnesses
than most other kids
master tying shoes
over left versus right, over versus under, before versus after, and
other directionality words and concepts
of dominant handedness (switches from right hand to left hand between
tasks or even while doing the same task)
to correctly complete phonemic awareness tasks
learning the names of the letters or sounds in the alphabet; difficulty
writing the alphabet in order
with dyslexia do not make
random reading errors. They make
very specific types of errors. Their spelling reflects the same types
of errors. Watch for these errors:
labored, inaccurate reading of single words in isolation (when there
is no story or pictures to provide clues).
reading aloud, reads in a slow, choppy cadence (not in smooth phrases),
and often ignores punctuation.
visibly tired after reading for only a short time.
comprehension may be low due to spending so much energy trying to
read the words. Listening comprehension is usually significantly higher
than reading comprehension.
inverts, or transposes letters: reverses means flipping a letter
horizontally along a vertical axis, such as reading ded for bed,
or bog for dog inverts means flipping a letter upside down, such
as may for way, or we for me
means switching the order of two adjacent letters, such as on for
no, gril for girl, own for won
similar-looking words, even if it changes the meaning of the sentence,
such as sunrise for surprise, house for horse, while for white, wanting
reading a story or a sentence, substitutes a word that means the same
thing but doesn't look at all similar, such as travel for journey,
fast for speed, cry for weep.
omits, or even adds small function words, such as an, a, from, the,
to, were, are, of.
or changes suffixes, such as need for needed, talks for talking, late
errors consist of reversals, inversions, or transpositions (just like
the reading errors).
misspells sight words (nonphonetic but very common words) such as
they, when, ball -- despite extensive practice.
even when copying something from the board or from a book.
work shows signs of spelling uncertainty--numerous erasures, cross
known as a visual-motor integration problem, people with dyslexia often
have poor, nearly illegible handwriting. Signs of dysgraphia include:
pencil grip, often with the thumb on top of the fingers. (a "fist
hold onto the pencil lower than normal (just above the lead), or higher
than norma.l (an inch or two above the start of the paint)
pencil grip is lower than normal, the child will often put his/her
head down on the desk to watch the tip of the pencil as he/she writes.
pencil is gripped so tightly that the child's hand cramps. The child
will frequently put the pencil down and shake out his/her hand.
letters is a slow, labored, non-fluent chore.
writes letters with unusual starting and ending points.
has great difficulty getting letters to "sit" on the horizontal lines.
spatial organization of the page. Words may be widely spaced or tightly
pushed together. Margins are often ignored.
has an unusually difficult time learning cursive writing, and shows
chronic confusion about similarly-formed cursive letters such as f
and b, m and n, w and u. They will also difficulty remembering how
to form capital cursive letters.
of Written Work
with dyslexia usually have an "impoverished written product." That means
that their intelligence and abilities are not apparent when looking
at something they wrote. Their intelligence is obvious when you speak
to them, but it is not obvious when they write. They tend to:
extremely short sentences
an unusually long time to write, due to dysgraphia
very poor mastery of punctuation as well as grammar, syntax and suffixes
nearly illegible handwriting, due to dysgraphia
space poorly on the page; odd spacing between words, may ignore margins,
sentences tightly packed into one section of the page instead of being
evenly spread out
many errors in written work even when proofreading has been attempted
dyslexic children and adults have chronic difficulty with many aspects
directionality: confusion about north, south, east and west; difficulty
reading or following maps; chronically get lost when going to new
places (and sometimes even to familiar places).
words: difficulty learning (or remembering) the meaning of words such
as left-right, over-under, up-down, before-after, ahead-behind, forward-backward,
confusion: this shows up in handwriting and in math.
trouble remembering where a letter starts and which way it goes.
Does the circle on the b go this way or this way? Which way does
the tail on a q go? Does an s start here and go to the right, or
here and go to the left? Which way is left, anyway?
trouble remembering which way to work a math problem. Reading goes
from left to right, but adding, subtracting and multiplying goes
the other way. However, long division goes the same way as reading
(except when you're multiplying or subtracting within a division
problem). When carrying a number, do I carry it to the left or to
steps in a task
any task that has a series of steps which must be completed in a specific
order can be difficult. These tasks are usually challenging for people
memory of non-meaningful facts
non-meaningful facts (facts that are not personally interesting and
personally relevant) is extremely difficult for most dyslexic children
and adults. In school, this leads to difficulty learning:
facts: water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the speed of light is
186,000 miles per second, etc.
facts: dates, names, and places. Dyslexic students do well in history
classes that emphasize why some event happened, and the consequences
of that event, rather than rote memorization of dates and names.
concepts and time management
with dyslexia often have difficulty with time management and time concepts.
They often have difficulty:
time using an analog clock (a clock with hands): directionality issues
add to this difficulty (which way do the hands go?), as does math.
To understand "be home at quarter to six", you must know fractions
(quarter means 1/4, 1/4 of an hour is 15 minutes), and you must realize
that "to six" means before six, and "before" has directionality issues
(is that when the long hand is on the 9 or on the 3?)
the months of the year in sequence. If you haven't mastered this,
then you may misinterpret a due date written as 5/15/98.
the time a task requires. People with dyslexia are often chronically
late to appointments and late turning in homework because they don't
accurately estimate the time required to drive to a destination or
to complete an assignment.
the starting times and the sequence of classes in high school, both
on regular school days and days with shortened schedules due to rallies
or inservice days.
appointment calendars. People with dyslexia will often show up for
appointments on the wrong day or the wrong week.
with dyslexia have an extremely difficult time organizing physical space.
They tend to prefer to pile things rather than to organize them and
put them away. It is almost as though if they can't see item (if it
is behind a door or in a drawer), they won't know where it is.
disorganization invades all of their personal space: their rooms,
their lockers, their backpacks, their offices, and their cars.
often have extreme difficulty organizing their offices or their study
perhaps due to their disorganization, they tend to lose many, many
personal items: clothing, watches, pagers, books, lunches, and shoes.
also have trouble bringing all necessary items to a meeting or to
their house to do homework.
with dyslexia are often gifted in math. Their three-dimensional visualization
skills help them "see" math concepts more quickly and clearly than non-dyslexic
people. Unfortunately, difficulties in directionality, rote memorization,
and sequencing can make the following math tasks so difficult that their
math gifts are never discovered.
addition and subtraction facts
(with or without Hyperactivity)
Attention Deficity Disorder is a completely separate condition than
dyslexia. However, research has shown that at least 40% of people with
dyslexia also have AD/HD.
A small percentage (3% to 8%) of people with dyslexia also have light
sensitivity (sometimes called scotopic sensitivity). These people have
a hard time seeing small black print on white paper. The print seems
to shimmer or move; some see the rivers of white more strongly than
the black words. These people tend to dislike florescent lighting, and
often "shade" the page with their hand or head when they read.
plastic overlays and/or colored lenses can eliminate the harsh black
print against white paper contrast, and may make letters stand still
for the first time in someone's life. However, the plastic overlays
or colored lenses will not "cure" dyslexia, nor will they teach a dyslexic
person how to read.
Strengths of people with dyslexia
their unique brain architecture and "unusual wiring" make reading, writing,
and spelling difficult, most people with dyslexia have gifts in areas
controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain. The right side controls:
careers for people with dyslexia
find people with dyslexia in every field. However, many excel in the
or exterior design
following people had either dyslexia, ADHD, or both. These people succeeded
BECAUSE of their dyslexic gifts, not despite their dyslexia.
starting list was created by the Kitty Petty Institute, but it has been
added to for years. If you have an addition to this list, please e-mail
it to BrightSol@aol.com.
or Movie Industry Figures:
Winkler (The Fonz)
Bill Cosby's brother and
Zsa Zsa Gabor
George C. Scott
Bob Jimenez (TV anchorman)
Steven J. Cannell
Greg Louganis (Olympic diver)
Jackie Stewart (race car driver)
Dexter Manley, Washington Redskins
Thomas Kean, governor of New Jersey
Gaston Caperton, governor of West Virginia
Frank Dunkle, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
John F. Kennedy
Luci Baines Johnson Nugent
General George Patton
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Leonardo da Vinci
Chuck Close, artist (photorealist portraits)
Margaret Whittington Allison Merriweather
Michael Faraday James Clerk Maxwell
Alexander Graham Bell
The Wright Brothers
Henry Ford Galileo
Tom Francis (AIDS researcher)
Jack Horner (paleontologist)
Baruj Benacerraf, MD (winner of the Nobel prize in Physiology)
William Butler Yeats
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Hans Christian Anderson
Richard Cohen, syndicated columnist for the Washington Post
Marc Flanagan, TV writer and producer
Elizabeth D. Squire
Edgar Allen Poe
Elizabeth Daniels Squire
John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems
Richard C. Strauss, real-estate financier
Mark Torrance, CEO, Musak Corporation
Malcolm Goodridge III, senior vice president, American
William Doyle, chairman, William Doyle Auction Galleries
of New York
Paul J. Orfalea, founder and chairman, Kinko's copy shops
G. Chris Anderson, vice-chairman of PaineWebber
William Hewlett (of Hewlett Packard)
Craig McCaw (McCaw Cellular)
Fred Friendly (former CBS News president)
Ann Bancroft, arctic explorer
Roger W. Wilkins, scholar and head of the Pulitzer Prize Board
Hugh Newell Jacobsen, famous architect, winner of 90 different
awards for design, including 20 Architectural Record Awards for
the best house design of the year.
Son of George Bush
or your child exhibit many of these symptoms, dyslexia may be the reason for
learn even more about dyslexia, visit the Bright
Solutions for Dyslexia website.
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