Signs of dyslexia can be difficult to recognize before your child enters school, but some early clues may indicate a problem. Once your child reaches school age, your child's teacher may be the first to notice a problem. Severity varies, but the condition often becomes apparent as a child starts learning to read.

Before school

Signs that a young child may be at risk of dyslexia include:

  • Late talking
  • Learning new words slowly
  • Problems forming words correctly, such as reversing sounds in words or confusing words that sound alike
  • Problems remembering or naming letters, numbers and colors
  • Difficulty learning nursery rhymes or playing rhyming games

School age

Once your child is in school, dyslexia signs and symptoms may become more apparent, including:

  • Reading well below the expected level for age
  • Problems processing and understanding what he or she hears
  • Difficulty finding the right word or forming answers to questions
  • Problems remembering the sequence of things
  • Difficulty seeing (and occasionally hearing) similarities and differences in letters and words
  • Inability to sound out the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word
  • Difficulty spelling
  • Spending an unusually long time completing tasks that involve reading or writing
  • Avoiding activities that involve reading

Teens and adults

Dyslexia signs in teens and adults are similar to those in children. Some common dyslexia signs and symptoms in teens and adults include:

  • Difficulty reading, including reading aloud
  • Slow and labor-intensive reading and writing
  • Problems spelling
  • Avoiding activities that involve reading
  • Mispronouncing names or words, or problems retrieving words
  • Trouble understanding jokes or expressions that have a meaning not easily understood from the specific words (idioms), such as "piece of cake" meaning "easy"
  • Spending an unusually long time completing tasks that involve reading or writing
  • Difficulty summarizing a story
  • Trouble learning a foreign language
  • Difficulty memorizing
  • Difficulty doing math problems

When to see a doctor

Though most children are ready to learn reading by kindergarten or first grade, children with dyslexia often can't grasp the basics of reading by that time. Talk with your doctor if your child's reading level is below what's expected for his or her age or if you notice other signs of dyslexia.

When dyslexia goes undiagnosed and untreated, childhood reading difficulties continue into adulthood.

Reference: Mayo Clinic

The Dyslexic Advantage

Yes, there are advantages to having Dyslexia.

Seeing the bigger picture

People with dyslexia often see things more holistically.
They miss the trees but see the forest.
“It’s as if people with dyslexia tend to use a wide-angle lens to take in the world,
while others tend to use a telephoto, each is best at revealing different kinds of detail.”
Matthew H. Schneps, Harvard University

Finding the odd one out

People with dyslexia excel at global visual processing and the detection of impossible figures. Dyslexic scientist Christopher Tonkin described his unusual sensitivity to “things out of place.” Scientists in his line of work must make sense of enormous quantities of visual data and accurately find black hole anomalies.

There are so many people with dyslexia in the field of astrophysics that it prompted research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Findings confirmed that those with dyslexia are better at identifying and memorizing complex images.

Improved pattern recognition

People with dyslexia have the ability to see how things connect to form complex systems, and to identify similarities among multiple things. Such strengths are likely to be of particular significance for fields like science and mathematics, where visual representations are key.

“I recognized that I had dyslexia and then I realized I had this gift for imaging. I live in a world of patterns and images, and I see things that no one else sees. Because of dyslexia, I can see these patterns.”
“You can’t overcome it (dyslexia); you can work around it and make it work for you, but it never goes away. That’s probably a good thing, because if dyslexia went away, then the other gifts would go away too.”
Beryl Benacerraf, M.D., Physician. World-renowned radiologist and expert in ultrasound.

Good spatial knowledge

Many people with dyslexia demonstrate better skills at manipulating 3D objects in their mind. Many of the world’s top architects and fashion designers have dyslexia.

“I was called stupid. Not only could I not read, but I couldn’t memorize my school work. I was always at the bottom of the class. I became very depressed.”
Richard Rogers
“I performed poorly at school – when I attended, that is – and was perceived as stupid because of my dyslexia. I still have trouble reading. I have to concentrate very hard at going left to right, left to right, otherwise my eye just wanders to the bottom of the page.”
Tommy Hilfiger

Picture Thinkers

People with dyslexia tend to think in pictures rather than words. Research at the University of California has demonstrated children with dyslexia have enhanced picture recognition memory.

Nineteenth-century French sculptor, Auguste Rodin, could stare at paintings in museums by day and paint them from memory at night. His dyslexia meant he could barely read or write by the age of 14, with his reading skills developing much later.

Sharper peripheral vision

People with dyslexia have better peripheral vision than most, meaning they can quickly take in a whole scene. Although it can be hard to focus in on individual words, dyslexia seems to make it easier to see outer edges.

James Howard Jr., a professor of psychology at the Catholic University of America, described in the journal Neuropsychologia an experiment in which participants were asked to pick out the letter T from a sea of letter L’s floating on a computer screen. Those with dyslexia identified the letter more quickly.

Business entrepreneurs

Did you know that one in three American entrepreneurs have dyslexia?
Entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Charles Schwab were all dyslexic. Perhaps better strategic and creative thinking could provide a real business advantage.
“I seemed to think in a different way from my classmates. I was very focused on trying to set up a business and create something. My dyslexia guided the way we communicated with customers.”
Richard Branson

Highly creative

Many of the world’s most creative actors have dyslexia, such as Johnny Depp, Keira Knighltly and Orlando Bloom.
“Many of the super creative designers I have worked with seemed
to have one thing in common; they suffered from dyslexia.”
Soren Petersen, Design Research PH.d

Pablo Picasso (Artist)
Picasso was described by his teachers as “having difficulty differentiating the orientation of letters”. Picasso painted his subjects as he saw them – sometimes out of order, backwards or upside down. His paintings demonstrated the power of his imagination, which was perhaps linked to his the inability to see written words properly.

Thinking outside the box – problem solving

Those with dyslexia are well known for having sudden leaps of insight that solve problems with an unorthodox approach.
This is an intuitive approach to problem solving that can seem like daydreaming. Staring out of the window is how dyslexics work, letting their brain slide into neutral and ease itself around a problem to let connections assemble.
But don’t even try convincing a teacher that staring out of the window is how your brain works!

Here is a great video explaining Dyslexia to children

Many famous and accomplish people have Dyslexia

Helen Arkell, Dyslexia Charity

Richard Branson

Richard Branson struggled in school and dropped out at age 16 - a decision that ultimately led to the creation of Virgin Records. His entrepreneurial projects started in the music industry and expanded into other sectors. He is now estimated to be worth over £3 billion. Branson is also known for his adventurous spirit and sporting achievements, including crossing oceans in a hot air balloon.

Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Astronomer and space scientist, co-producer of the long running TV programme ‘The Sky at Night’ with Chris Lintott. She is a research fellow in UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies and an Honorary Research Associate in UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Orlando Bloom

Hollywood actor most commonly known for his starring roles in Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings. When he was discovered as dyslexic at school his mother encouraged him to take art and drama classes. Bloom continued on to appear in many Hollywood hits and made his Broadway stage debut as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet in August 2013 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

Tom Cruise

Blockbuster action film actor Cruise was diagnosed with Dyslexia age 7 but that didn’t stop him. “I’d try to concentrate on what I was reading, then I’d get to the end of the page and have very little memory of anything I’d read”. He eventually adopted unique techniques in order to learn his lines and went on to be a multi award winning Hollywood star!

Leonardo da Vinci

Primarily a painter accomplishing the famous Mona Lisa, however Da Vinci was skilled in many other areas including mathematics, sculpting and as an inventor.

Walt Disney

An American icon who built the Disney Empire with his brother and is responsible for the growth of animation production. The popular Disney Land Parks have since been developed globally.

Jim Carrey

The two-time Golden Globe-winner rose to fame as a cast member of the Fox sketch comedy In Living Color. Leading roles in Ace Ventura, Dumb & Dumber and The Mask established him as a bankable comedy actor.

Albert Einstein

One of the most influential physicists in history who developed the laws of relativity and shaped the ways we think of the world today. 

Sally Gardner 

English children's writer and illustrator. She won both the Costa Children's Book Award and the Carnegie Medal for Maggot Moon.

Whoopi Goldberg

Comedian, political activist but more recently talk show host. Whoopi is one of a handful of people to win an Oscar, a Grammy, a Tony and an Emmy. 

John F Kennedy, George Washington & George W Bush,

All of these Presidents of the United States of America were believed to be dyslexic.

Keira Knightley

Keira gained widespread recognition in 2002 after co-starring in the film Bend It Like Beckham and achieved international fame in 2003 after appearing as Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. Since then she has succeeded in many more world-renowned performances.

John Lennon

Lead singer of the Beatles in the 1960’s and singer songwriter. Lennon produced a critically acclaimed album for his solo career despite his worldwide fame with ‘The Beatles’ and seemingly endless lists of smash hits.

Jamie Oliver

Professional Chef, bookseller and TV personality. He initially left school at 16 without any qualifications, however working his way up the kitchen ladder he rose quickly to head chef.