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Warning Signs of Dyslexia in Kids

Updated: Jul 2

If a child has 3 or more of the following warning signs, encourage that child’s parents and teachers to learn more about dyslexia. Thank you to Susan Barton, expert in Dyslexia and creator of The Barton Reading and Spelling Program, for this valuable resource.

Warning signs of dyslexia, dyslexia signs in preschool, dyslexia signs in elementary school, dyslexia signs in middle school
Warning Signs of Dyslexia

In Preschool

  • delayed speech

  • mixing up the sounds and syllables in long words

  • chronic ear infections

  • severe reactions to childhood illnesses constant confusion of left versus right

  • late establishing a dominant hand

  • difficulty learning to tie shoes

  • trouble memorizing their address, phone

  • number, or the alphabet

  • can't create words that rhyme

  • a close relative with dyslexia

In Elementary School

  • dysgraphia (slow, non-automatic handwriting that is difficult to read)

  • letter or number reversals continuing past the end of first grade

  • extreme difficulty learning cursive

  • slow, choppy, inaccurate reading:

  • guesses based on shape or context

  • skips or misreads prepositions (at, to, of)

  • ignores suffixes

  • can't sound out unknown words

  • terrible spelling

  • often can't remember sight words (they, were, does)

  • or homonyms (their, they're, and there)

  • difficulty telling time with a clock with hands

  • trouble with math:

  • memorizing multiplication tables

  • memorizing a sequence of steps

  • directionality

  • when speaking, difficulty finding the correct word:

  • lots of "whatyamacallits" and "thingies"

  • common sayings come out slightly twisted

  • extremely messy bedroom, backpack, and desk

  • dreads going to school:

  • complains of stomach aches or headaches

  • may have nightmares about school

In High School

All of the above symptoms plus: limited vocabulary

  • extremely poor written expression

  • large discrepancy between verbal skills

  • and written compositions

  • unable to master a foreign language

  • difficulty reading printed music

  • poor grades in many classes

  • may drop out of high school

In Adults

Education history similar to above, plus:

  • slow reader

  • may have to read a page 2 or 3 times to understand it

  • terrible speller

  • difficulty putting thoughts onto paper:

  • dreads writing memos or letters

  • still has difficulty with right versus left

  • often gets lost, even in a familiar city

  • sometimes confuses b and d, especially when tired or sick

Copyright © 2002 by Susan Barton. All Rights Reserved.

Reprinted with prior permission from Susan Barton. To learn more about Dyslexia, visit and


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