The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity
Signs of Dyslexia

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.

Click Here for a List of Good Practices

Kindergarten & First Grade

Reading

  • 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.
  • Speaking
  • 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

Strengths

  • 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


 

Second Grade and Up

Reading

  • 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

Speaking

  • 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.

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

Strengths

  • 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
  • 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


 

Young Adults & Adults

Reading

  • 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

Speaking

  • Not fluent, not glib, often anxious while speaking
  • 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
  • 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

School & Life

  • Despite good grades, will often say that she is dumb or is concerned that peers think that she is dumb
  • Penalized by multiple-choice tests
  • Frequently sacrifices social life for studying
  • Suffers extreme fatigue when reading
  • Performs rote clerical tasks poorly

Strengths

  • 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

Source: Overcoming Dyslexia © Sally E. Shaywitz, M.D.