Kids with dyslexia need different types of help at different times. You may not yet know if your child has dyslexia. But the more you understand about this common learning difference, the better you can support your child. With the right support, kids who struggle with reading can improve skills and feel more confident.
This overview can answer many of your basic questions about dyslexia. It can also lead you to more in-depth information.
If you’re concerned your child has dyslexia, here are steps you can take. And if your child was just diagnosed with dyslexia, learn what you can do next.
Signs of dyslexia
Signs of dyslexia can look different at different ages. Here are some examples of what you might see:
- Has a hard time learning nursery rhymes or song lyrics that rhyme
- Struggles to name familiar objects and uses general words like thing and stuff instead
- Has trouble remembering things in the right order, like singing the letters of the alphabet
See more signs of dyslexia in preschool.
- Has trouble sounding out words
- Often confuses letters that look similar (b, d, p, q) and letters with similar sounds (d/t; b/p; f/v)
- Has trouble with spelling
- Often doesn’t recognize common words
See more signs of dyslexia in grade school.
- Reads very slowly
- Spells the same word correctly and incorrectly in the same assignment
- Struggles with writing assignments
See more signs of dyslexia in middle school.
- Often skips over small words when reading aloud
- Seems to be searching for words when speaking, and might substitute words (like saying “gate” instead of “fence”)
- Often doesn’t “get” the joke
See more signs of dyslexia in high school.
Finding out if your child has dyslexia
The only way to know for sure if your child has dyslexia is through an evaluation. You can get one for free at school, and the results will show where your child is struggling. That lets you get your child the right support at school. For example, your child might get specialized teaching designed for kids who struggle with reading.
An evaluator will give your child a series of tests for dyslexia. A school evaluation tests other areas, too. This lets you see the full picture of your child’s strengths and challenges. And that helps you and the school use your child’s strengths to make progress.
Evaluations can be done either at school or privately. You might hear different terms depending on who does it.
For example, schools don’t “diagnose” conditions. They “identify” learning disabilities. So, you might hear that your child has a learning disability in reading. But you might also hear the term dyslexia.
Before deciding on an evaluation, though, rule out any medical problems that might be a factor. Your child’s health care provider can check for vision or hearing problems. (Dyslexia is not a problem with vision.)
A psychologist will look for other things that might be getting in the way of your child’s learning. These may include ADHD or mental health issues. (Read about the connection between dyslexia and anxiety.)
The evaluator may ask you for a family history and have you fill out questionnaires about your child’s strengths and challenges. And your child’s teachers might give information on what they’re seeing in the classroom.
Learn more about the evaluation process.
- Find out how to decode teacher comments for signs your child may have dyslexia.
- Get tips for talking to your child’s teacher about dyslexia.
- Find out how to help kids work through math word problems.
How professionals can help with dyslexia
There are many types of professionals who can help kids with dyslexia. They include reading specialists, speech-language pathologists, and special education teachers.
There are no medications or medical treatments for dyslexia. But there are specific teaching methods to help kids with dyslexia.
You may have heard about multisensory instruction. This means kids use more than one sense at a time to learn something. (You may have also heard about an approach called Orton–Gillingham, or OG.)
Ask if your child’s school uses multisensory instruction. It can help kids build a number of skills, from sounding out words to reading fluently.
- See a list of school supports, or accommodations for dyslexia.
- Find out why audiobooks can help kids build reading skills.
- Get a list of questions to ask teachers when your child struggles with reading.
How you can help your child with dyslexia
From working with the school to working on reading skills, you can help get your child the tools and motivation to thrive at school and in life.
Check out ways to help with reading at home. Here are just some of the things you can do:
For more ideas, explore a collection of strategies to help with dyslexia.
It’s key for your child to know that reading skills can improve. Find ways to help your child have a growth mindset when it comes to reading. And learn how to give praise that builds your child’s self-esteem.
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About the author
About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.