top of page

Do You Have Dyslexia: Signs you might have Dyslexia

What is dyslexia

The BDA has adopted the Rose (2009) definition of dyslexia:

"Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed. Dyslexia occurs across a range of intellectual abilities. It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points. Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor coordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not markers of dyslexia. A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well-founded intervention.''

Please note that there is a difference between a learning disability and a learning disorder:

A learning disability is different from a specific learning difficulty like dyslexia, as a learning difficulty does not affect general intellect. A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities, for example, household tasks, socialising or managing money, which affects someone for their whole life.

Signs you have dyslexia


In addition to these characteristics:

The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) acknowledges the visual and auditory processing difficulties that some individuals with dyslexia can experience and points out that dyslexic readers can show a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process. Some also have strengths in other areas, such as design, problem-solving, creativity, interaction, and oral skills.


The following indicators may suggest that your child has dyslexia. Many young children will display these behaviours and make these mistakes even without dyslexia (So please don't diagnose your child without getting a formal assessment). Analysing the severity of the behaviour and the length of time that the behaviour persists can give vital clues to identifying dyslexia.

Indicators (These may suggest a child is dyslexic)

  • Difficulty learning nursery rhymes.

  • Difficulty paying attention, sitting still, listening to stories

  • Likes listening to stories but shows no interest in letters or words

  • Difficulty learning to sing or recite the alphabet

  • A history of slow speech development

  • Muddles words e.g. cubumber, flutterby

  • Difficulty keeping a simple rhythm

  • Finds it hard to carry out two or more instructions at one time, (e.g. put the toys in the box, then put it on the shelf) but is fine if tasks are presented in smaller units

  • Forgets names of friends, teacher, colours etc.

  • Poor auditory discrimination

  • Confusion between directional words e.g. up/down

  • Family history of dyslexia/reading difficulties

  • Difficulty with sequencing e.g. coloured beads, classroom routines

  • Substitutes words e.g. "lampshade" for "lamppost"

  • Appears not to be listening or paying attention

  • Obvious 'good' and 'bad' days for no apparent reason


If a child appears to be struggling with spelling, reading, writing or numeracy, how do you know whether these difficulties are potential indications of dyslexia?

A key clue with dyslexia is that the child will show weakness in certain areas and strengths in others, something noted as a spiky profile. In a lot of cases, other family members such as siblings may have the same characteristics. Remember that not all dyslexic children will display the same weaknesses and abilities.

General signs to look for are:

  • Speed of processing: slow spoken and/or written language

  • Poor concentration

  • Difficulty following instructions

  • Forgetting words

Written work

  • Poor standard of written work compared with oral ability

  • Produces messy work with many crossings out and words tried several times, e.g. wippe, wype, wiep,

  • Confused by letters which look similar, particularly b/d, p/g, p/q, n/u, m/w

  • Poor handwriting with many ‘reversals’ and badly formed letters

  • Spells a word several different ways in one piece of writing

  • Makes anagrams of words, e.g. tired for tried, bread for beard

  • Produces badly set-out written work, doesn’t stay close to the margin

  • Poor pencil grip

  • Produces phonetic and bizarre spelling: not age/ability appropriate

  • Uses unusual sequencing of letters or words


  • Slow reading progress

  • Finds it difficult to blend letters

  • Has difficulty in establishing syllable division or knowing the beginnings and endings of words

  • Unusual pronunciation of words

  • No expression in reading, and poor comprehension

  • Hesitant and laboured reading, especially when reading aloud

  • Misses out words when reading, or adds extra words

  • Fails to recognise familiar words

  • Loses the point of a story being read or written

  • Has difficulty picking out the most important points from a passage


  • Confusion with place value e.g. units, tens, hundreds

  • Confused by symbols such as + and x signs

  • Difficulty remembering anything in sequential order, e.g. tables, days of the week, the alphabet


  • Has difficulty learning to tell the time

  • Poor timekeeping

  • Poor personal organisation

  • Difficulty remembering what day of the week it is, their birth date, seasons of the year, months of the year

  • Difficulty with concepts – yesterday, today, tomorrow


  • Poor motor skills, leading to weaknesses in speed, control and accuracy of the pencil

  • Memory difficulties e.g. for daily routines, self-organisation, rote learning

  • Confused by the difference between left and right, up and down, east and west

  • Indeterminate hand preference

  • Performs unevenly from day to day


  • Uses work avoidance tactics, such as sharpening pencils and looking for books

  • Seems ‘dreamy’, and does not seem to listen

  • Easily distracted

  • Is the class clown or is disruptive or withdrawn

  • Is excessively tired due to the amount of concentration and effort required

A cluster of these indicators alongside areas of ability may suggest dyslexia and further investigation may be required.


Dyslexia is a combination of abilities as well as difficulties. It is the disparity between them that is often the giveaway clue. A dyslexic learner, despite certain areas of difficulty, maybe orally very able and knowledgeable, creative, artistic, or sporting. Alongside these abilities will be a cluster of difficulties - these will be different for every person. There are indicators which can help you to identify a young person who may be dyslexic.

Written work

  • Has a poor standard of written work compared with oral ability

  • Has poor handwriting with badly formed letters or has neat handwriting, but writes very slowly

  • Produces badly set out or messy written work, with spellings, crossed out several times

  • Spells the same word differently in one piece of work

  • Has difficulty with punctuation and/or grammar

  • Confuses upper and lower case letters

  • Writes a great deal but 'loses the thread'

  • Writes very little, but to the point

  • Has difficulty taking notes in lessons

  • Has difficulty with the organisation of homework

  • Finds tasks difficult to complete on time

  • Appears to know more than they can commit to paper


  • Is hesitant and laboured, especially when reading aloud

  • Omits, repeats or adds extra words

  • Reads at a reasonable rate, but has a low level of comprehension

  • Fails to recognise familiar words

  • Misses a line or repeats the same line twice

  • Loses their place easily/uses a finger or marker to keep the place

  • Has difficulty in pin-pointing the main idea in a passage

  • Has difficulty using dictionaries, directories, encyclopaedias


  • Has difficulty remembering tables and/or basic number sets

  • Finds sequencing problematic

  • Confuses signs such as x for +

  • Can think at a high level in mathematics, but needs a calculator for simple calculations

  • Misreads questions that include words

  • Finds mental arithmetic at speed very difficult

  • Finds memorising formulae difficult

Other areas

  • Confuses direction - left/right

  • Has difficulty learning foreign languages

  • Has difficulty in finding the name of an object

  • Has clear difficulties processing information

  • Misunderstands complicated questions

  • Finds holding a list of instructions in memory difficult, although can perform all tasks when told individually


  • Is disorganised or forgetful e.g. over sports equipment, lessons, homework, appointments

  • Is easily distracted. May find it difficult to remain focused on the task

  • Is often in the wrong place at the wrong time

  • Is excessively tired, due to the amount of concentration and effort required

A cluster of these indicators alongside areas of ability may point to possible dyslexia and further investigation is recommended.


Everyone's experience of dyslexia will be individual to them but there are common indicators. A cluster of these indicators alongside abilities in other areas could suggest dyslexia and should be investigated further.

Do you:

  • Confuse visually similar words such as cat and cot

  • Spell erratically

  • Find it hard to scan or skim the text

  • Read/write slowly

  • Need to re-read paragraphs to understand them

  • Find it hard to listen and maintain focus

  • Find it hard to concentrate if there are distractions

  • Feel sensations of mental overload/switching off

  • Have difficulty telling left from right

  • Get confused when given several instructions at once

  • Have difficulty organising thoughts on paper

  • Often forget conversations or important dates

  • Have difficulty with personal organisation, time management and prioritising tasks

  • Avoid certain types of work or study

  • Find some tasks really easy but unexpectedly challenged by others

  • Have poor self-esteem, especially if dyslexic difficulties have not been identified in earlier life

If you feel this reflects you, you can get an indication if you may be dyslexic from an adult dyslexia checklist and/or a dyslexia screener. These are no diagnostic tools but can also be used to indicate whether further investigations should take place.

If a checklist and or screener indicates you are likely to be dyslexic, a formal Diagnostic Assessment is the only way to confirm whether or not the difficulties you encounter are due to dyslexia. A formal diagnosis will, in turn, help you to get the right support within the education system, and in the workplace.

Although we have listed several signs of dyslexia and most of these seem negative, there are some great advantages to being dyslexic. Below are some advantages to note that can help dyslexics succeed.


  1. 3D thinking – Dyslexic people are more likely to be able to visualize in 3D, turning over what they see in their minds.

  2. Strong memory – Some individuals with dyslexia recall facts as if reading a good storybook rather than just a list of random data.

  3. Excellent puzzle-solving skills -They accurately identify the right shape and figure out complex problems as no one else can ever do.

  4. Wonderfully imaginative – Dyslexics can envision a fantastic view of the world.

  5. Think outside of the box – It’s nice to stick to standards, but if you wish to go far, you have to think originally, as evidenced by today’s entrepreneurs.

  6. Critical thinkers – Another trait that some dyslexics possess is their ability to use logical reasoning. They know exactly what the difference between the two topics is and will use critical thinking to solve a problem.


- Find out more on the BDA Assessments webpage.

lexick logo



Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating



This Blog focuses on the life of a junior doctor working for the NHS as well some interesting topics on organisation, books and christianity.


  • Pinterest
  • TikTok



Eat, pray, love.png

Join Our Newsletter

Thanks for submitting!

Keep Your Friends
Close & Our Posts Closer

bottom of page