Dyslexia: What You’re Seeing in Your Preschooler

By Emily Lapkin

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Preschoolers can show early warning signs of dyslexia long before they begin reading. That’s because dyslexia can affect a variety of language skills that are the building blocks for reading. Here are some possible red flags.

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Dyslexia: What You’re Seeing in Your Preschooler

Be on the lookout for these signs of dyslexia, and keep track of what you’re seeing. Your observations will come in handy when talking to your child’s doctor or teachers.

Speaks Like a Younger Child
At home: Your child frequently mispronounces words (such as “aminal” instead of “animal”).

At school: Your child doesn’t talk as much or seem to know as many words as her peers do.

The issue: Delayed language development is often one of the first warning signs of dyslexia.

Has Trouble Calling Things by the Right Name
At home: When you ask for a fork, your child hands you a spoon.

At school: Your child struggles with learning and naming numbers, colors and the letters of the alphabet.

The issue: Dyslexia affects the way the brain processes language. This can make it hard to attach the correct labels to objects and symbols.

Struggles With Rhymes
At home: Your child can’t fill in the rhyming word in nursery rhymes (such as “One Two, Buckle My ____”)—and has even more difficulty making up rhymes on her own.

At school: Your child doesn’t recognize rhyming patterns like dog, log, hog.

The issue: Kids with dyslexia often have a hard time isolating and breaking words into individual sounds.

Can’t Seem to Follow Directions
At home: You ask your child to get her shoes and jacket, but she only gets the jacket.

At school: Your child needs frequent reminders to follow classroom rules and routines.

The issue: Children with dyslexia may not be able to grasp all the details in lengthy commands. They may only “hear” the first or last few words.
Graphic of Dyslexia: What you're seeing in your preschooler
Graphic of Dyslexia: What you're seeing in your preschooler

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About the Author

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Portrait of Sheldon Horowitz

Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D., is senior director of learning resources and research at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

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