Dyslexia involves difficulties with processing language. It causes difficulty with reading, writing and other skills. Dyslexia affects the way the brain processes language and it is not a problem with vision.

Children with Dyslexia often struggle with sounding out words and recognizing commonly seen words. They also may find it hard to isolate sounds, match sounds to letters or blend sounds into words. In addition to reading, Dyslexia can impact writing, spelling and even speaking.

An intelligent child who fails at school can be Dyslexic. They can also have difficulties distinguishing left and right, up and down, front and back. They can do well in some things but unexpectedly poorly at others. Children can be quiet and work away without others noticing they are not learning. They often prefer to play with children younger than themselves.

The list of symptoms below are some of the common signs of Dyslexia through various age stages:

  • Mispronouncing words, such as ‘beddy tear’ instead of ‘teddy bear’
  • Struggles to name familiar objects and says ‘thing’ and ‘stuff’ instead
  • Has difficulties learning nursery rhymes or song lyrics that rhyme
  • Has trouble remembering sequencing, such as singing the alphabet
  • Finds it hard to remember and follow directions
Years 1 to 3 (and some of the above)
  • Difficulties learning letter names and remembering the sounds they make
  • Confuses similar looking letters, such as ‘d’ and ‘b’, ‘p’ and ‘q’ and b/p
  • Struggles to read familiar words such as cat or the (without pictures)
  • Substitutes words when reading aloud, such as ‘house’ or ‘home’
  • Has troubles hearing the individual word sounds and blending sounds into words
  • Has trouble remembering how words are spelled and applying spelling rules
Years 4 to 8 (and continuing some of the above)
  • Confuses or skips small words ‘for’ and ‘of’ when reading aloud
  • Has trouble sounding out new words and recognizing common ones
  • Struggles to explain what happened in a story or answer questions about key points
  • Frequently makes the same kinds of mistakes such as reversing letters
  • Has poor spelling; may spell the same word correctly and incorrectly on same page
  • Avoids reading whenever possible or gets frustrated or upset when reading
Years 9 to 13 (Secondary) and continuing some of the above

Secondary school students formally diagnosed with dyslexia are eligible for special provisions in their coursework and examinations. These students can also benefit from direct teaching to develop their literacy skills to a more functional standard and guidance in managing their studies.

  • Many of the above difficulties, plus
  • Student needs to repeatedly read and reread material in order to understand it
  • Students have difficulties managing and keeping track of homework assignments
  • Meeting deadlines for various classes is difficult
  • Often unaware of assignments and deadlines despite being informed
  • Your child has unexpected difficulty with learning a foreign language.
  • Your child struggles with higher math, such as algebra
  • There is a significant discrepancy between your child’s school performance and scores on standardized tests, including secondary school tests in Year 9

If your child shows significant problems in any one of the above areas, it is a sign that they may have a previously undiagnosed learning disability.

However, if the problems seem to be unusual or persistent, you should seek an evaluation for dyslexia or other learning barriers. The guidance counsellor or SENCO at school may be able to help arrange such testing, as well as to help plan your child’s course schedule to better meet his needs.

When an Older Child Asks for Help

In some cases, your older child or teenager may be the one who asks for testing. Your child may find the academic demands in intermediate and secondary school overwhelming, at least in some subject areas. Your teenager may have learned about Dyslexia on their own, through the Internet or by talking to others. They know they are struggling when others are not.

Your teenager may be afraid to bring up the subject of Dyslexia at home and might be embarrassed to discuss the difficulties at school or might be afraid that you will be angry.

It is important to listen and understand the reasons and you might want to take a list of common dyslexia symptoms and ask your child to show you which problems on the list might apply to them.

Sometimes there is a family history of dyslexia and where reading, spelling and writing difficulties were evident. Other difficulties can include remembering instructions, managing organisational demands, some speech difficulties and some attention problems.

Students can develop low self-esteem, practise avoidance tactics and can sometimes sit at the back of the classroom and/or act out which they perceive masks the difficulties they have in copying with schoolwork.

You may be surprised to learn that your child has been struggling for years but has managed in the past to hide their problems through sheer determination and hard work. Your support and understanding are crucial. For a child who has previously done well academically, an appropriate diagnosis can be the boost they need to excel in secondary school.


After struggling in their learning for many years at school, often they become employed in a position that hides difficulties and they do this with their co-workers, friends and family. They become frustrated at planning meeting and doing sequential tasks and can become overwhelmed with long forms or different types of sequential processes. They often thrive in careers where visual-spatial/kinaesthetic talents are needed, such as actors, musicians, investigation, athletes and executives.

  • Can be highly intuitive
  • Can have difficulties focusing and remaining on task
  • Often find it hard to pass tests
  • Sometimes they are perfectionists and avoid being corrected
  • They think outside the ‘square’
  • Like to use hands-on experience, enjoy demonstrating things and using visual aids
  • Always seem to remember they struggled at school
  • Their children can be Dyslexic, and insecurities can arise
  • Can have difficulties connecting heard information to computer
  • Difficulties reading aloud and not always good public speaker
  • Reading fluency and comprehension can fluctuate
  • They are easily bored
  • Poor handwriting is common
  • Relies on calculators
  • Has difficulties making changes and reading maps
  • Can lose track of time
  • Can be easily stressed through frustration
  • Low self-esteem and self-conscience
  • Can be disorganised
  • Often experience stress and physical health issues