Dyslexia can be a Problem for all Age Groups
Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling.
- It's a specific learning difficulty, which means it causes problems with certain abilities used for learning, such as reading and writing.
- Unlike a learning disability, a person's intelligence is not affected.
- It's estimated that up to fifteen percent of the population in the USA has some degree of dyslexia.
- Dyslexia is a lifelong problem that can present challenges on a daily basis, but support is available to improve reading and writing skills and help those with the problem go on to be successful at school and work.
What are the common signs of dyslexia?
Someone with dyslexia may:
- read and write very slowly
- confuse the order of letters in words
- put letters the wrong way round (such as writing "b" instead of "d")
- have poor or inconsistent spelling
- understand information when told verbally, but have difficulty with information that's written down
- find it hard to carry out a sequence of directions
- struggle with planning and organisation
But people with dyslexia often have good skills in other areas, such as creative thinking and problem solving.
We need to point out that these signs will vary from person to person with each one having a unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses.
The signs of dyslexia may be different in the various age groups.
Here is what you can expect to see in very young children
- Delayed speech development compared with other children of the same age. This could be due to other reasons.
- Speech problems with pronunciation or jumbling up phrases.
- Difficulty in self expression when using spoken language.
- Poor understanding or appreciation of rhyming words.
- Little interest in learning letters of the alphabet.
There are more obvious symptoms in school children aged five to twelve
- Problems learning the names and sounds of letters.
- Spelling that's unpredictable and inconsistent.
- Using letters and figures the wrong way round (such as writing "6" instead of "9", or "b" instead of "d").
- Confusing the order of letters in words.
- Slow reading or making errors when reading aloud.
- Saying that letters and words appear to move around or are blurred when reading.
- While able to answer questions orally, having difficulty writing the answer down.
- Finding it difficult to carry out a sequence of directions.
- Struggling to learn sequences, such as days of the week or the alphabet.
- A slow writing speed with poor handwriting.
- Problems copying written language and taking longer than normal to complete written work.
Teenagers and adults
In addition to the difficulties listed above, the symptoms of dyslexia in older children and adults can include:
- Poorly organised written work that lacks expression even if they are actually knowledgeable about a subject.
- Finding it difficult to plan and write essays, letters or reports.
- Problems in revising for examinations.
- Attempting to avoid reading and writing if possible.
- Difficulty taking notes or copying.
- Poor spelling skills.
- Difficult with remembering pins, passwords or telephone numbers.
- Struggling to meet deadlines.
How can those with dyslexia be helped?
In the case of a young child, the first port of call is to talk to their teacher. A visit to the doctor can help to rule out any underlying health issues. Your child's teacher is more than likely to have experience with other children with dyslexia and may suggest an assessment for identifying special needs.
Many schools in the USA have a 3-tiered approach to supporting learners with dyslexia:
- Tier 1 – this is reading instruction provided to all students in a class.
- Tier 2 – supplemental small reading groups, focused on foundational reading skills.
- Tier 3 – provided to students who do not progress after a reasonable amount of time with the tier 2 intervention and require one-to-one training.
You can find out more about this here.
In the case of teens and young adults, as they grow and mature, more and more is expected of them. However, the demands of school and the workplace can be especially hard.
While it is often assumed that students have acquired sufficient decoding, and that their reading struggles are only comprehension related, many might not have established skills to identify unfamiliar words.
In addition, older students with untreated dyslexia have not benefited from years of reading so that they may be held back with other key aspects of reading such as vocabulary, background knowledge and comprehension skills. It can also affect their ability to spell and write, making it difficult for them to accurately express their knowledge and ideas.
Help for older sufferers can be found at these links:
Strategies to help Teenagers (dyslexiasw.com)
American Dyslexia Association | Dyslexia - We can help! (american-dyslexia-association.com)
Dyslexia. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/learning-and-developmental-disorders/dyslexia. (Accessed June 8, 2021).
Hamilton SS. Reading difficulty in children: Clinical features and evaluation. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. (Accessed June 12, 2021).
Hamilton SS. Reading difficulty in children: Interventions. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. (Accessed June 12, 2021).
Handler SM, et al. Joint technical report ― Learning disabilities, dyslexia, and vision. Pediatrics. 2011;127:e818.
Information and resources for adolescents and adults with dyslexia — It's never too late. International Dyslexia Association. https://dyslexiaida.org/adolescents-and-adults-with-dyslexia-fact-sheet/.( Accessed June 12, 2021).