7 Surprising Signs of Dyslexia in Kids

child reading

Many moms have experienced that moment where their heart stops ... all because their kid has written a "b" like a "d," which leads them to wonder, OMG, is my child dyslexic? To be sure, this learning disability is surprisingly common: an estimated 10-15 percent of Americans have dyslexia. Yet only 5 percent of dyslexics are ever diagnosed, and without treatment, school can become a never-ending struggle.

In other words, it's understandable that moms are extra vigilant about signs of dyslexia ... only the red flags may not be exactly what you think.


Signs of dyslexia

Case in point: writing letters or numbers in reverse is very common in kids, and not symptom of dyslexia. So what is? Keep an eye out for the following tip-offs -- many of which go unrecognized: 

1. Your child is late in learning how to tie his shoes. "This is called dyspraxia, and it's often found in kids with dyslexia," says dyslexia and education expert Varda Epstein. That's because shoe-tying, like reading, requires a certain level of spatial awareness that dyslexics often lack. And since kids generally master shoe-tying around 5 or 6 -- right around the time they're learning to read -- if you child is struggling with both tasks, that's a red flag. 

2. Your child is late to develop handedness -- whether he's a righty or a lefty -- which typically happens around age 3.

3. Math is difficult for your child. This is called dyscalculia, and it's often related to dyslexia. The problem may be even more pronounced when the number-crunching is language-based word problems such as, "If Stacey has 10 apples and gives 4 to Ben, how many does she have left?"

4. Your child struggles to list words that rhyme, like dog, frog, log, etc. Another common problem: he can't accurately complete "phonemic awareness tasks" (What is the last sound in the word "dog?"). The reason: dyslexia isn't just a visual problem, but an auditory one as well.

5. Your child has difficulty tracking sentences or lines during reading -- left to right, top to bottom.

More from The Stir: Reading Just Got Easier for Kids With Dyslexia

6. Teachers say your child isn't "focusing" or "paying attention" in class; they may even say he has ADHD. It may be so, or it may be that dyslexia has him confused and lost, says Susan Bartell, who helps to diagnose dyslexia regularly and works with kids and parents. People may also mistakenly assume your child is "lazy" or "bored" because of his avoidance of school work.

7. Your child resists going to school, saying things like "school is hard," or just flat-out says he hates it. The reality may be something other than a bad attitude, so don't believe it without exhausting every other possible explanation first.

Have you ever worried your child is dyslexic? What signs have you noticed?


Images © JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Corbis; Edward Westmacott/shutterstock

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