Could My Child Have Dyslexia?

Originally published on the New York Family website
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Wondering if your child might have dyslexia? Look for these signs.

You notice your child struggling to sound out words when reading. He has difficulty with writing and his reading fluency is very slow. His self-esteem is starting to plummet as he compares himself to peers who are excelling in these academic areas. You might wonder if your child has dyslexia. Read below for some grade-specific signs:


Most preschool-age children are not yet reading or writing. Many have not yet learned to write letters or or recognize sound/letter relationships. Yet early signs of dyslexia can be identified at this young age. Your child might struggle with phonemic awareness, or the ability to hear, recognize, and manipulate sounds in words. For example, rhyming might be a challenge. She may have trouble identifying initial sounds in words (ex: What sound does the word pizza start with?), medial sounds (ex: What is the middle sound you hear in the word hot?), or ending sounds (ex: What is the final sound you hear in the word red?). Try asking your child to say the word “dog” without the /d/ sound or “chop” without the /p/ sound. Struggling with this ability to manipulate sounds in words could be a sign of dyslexia. Furthermore, children with dyslexia might have trouble following directions or coming up with the correct word to describe an object or action.

Elementary School

As students progress through elementary school, reading and writing demands increase rapidly. At this age, you might notice that your child struggles to decode, or sound out, words–especially those he has never seen before. He may rely on his sight memory and picture clues to figure out words when reading, rather than trying to actually decode them. His reading fluency may be slow, and he might start to avoid reading out of embarrassment or lack of self-confidence. You also may notice that your child looks at the beginning sound of a word and guesses at the rest of it, and struggles to spell even basic single syllable words. Writing sentences and stories can be a challenge, and he might write the minimum amount necessary in order to be done with an assignment as quickly as possible.

Middle/High School

By the time students reach middle school, those with dyslexia have typically already been identified. However, some students develop coping strategies that allow them to “mask” their dyslexia for quite a while. While this masking can often carry them through early grades, many students hit a wall when the reading and writing demands ramp up in middle and high school. ‎You might find that your child’s speed of reading and completing work is very slow. He also may struggle with the simultaneous demands of writing: grammar, mechanics, organization, and spelling, and likely finds very little pleasure in reading. His overall self-esteem is low.

While dyslexia can be a lifelong challenge, for many parents and students, being diagnosed with dyslexia often comes as a relief. They feel better knowing that there is a reason for the constant struggle and that action can be taken to help relieve these challenges. The earlier students receive remediation to address their dyslexia-related struggles, the easier reading and writing will be as they move through school. Specialized methodologies, including the Orton Gillingham technique for decoding and spelling, and similar research-based, multi-sensory techniques for language processing and writing, can help dyslexic students tremendously as they progress through school and face the growing academic demands.

Dear Dr. Levy, My son received an excellent report card. I can’t say enough good things about his EBL tutor. She has done a tremendous job helping him improve his reading and writing skills. Most importantly, she is wise and kind. She is always patient with him. Because of his tutor, my son writes with much more ease.
– Parent