Dyslexia Symptoms Across the Lifespan: What to Look For

Dyslexia symptoms

Dyslexia symptoms are a lifelong phenomenon caused by a neurological condition that affects how the brain processes language. While it is most commonly associated with reading difficulties, the symptoms of dyslexia extend far beyond that. The signs can manifest differently at various ages and stages of life. Being able to recognize these symptoms is crucial for getting timely intervention and support.

As someone who has dyslexia, I can tell you that it is not uncommon to not understand what is happening. It took me decades to figure it out. I struggled in school with this “hidden” disability, not knowing why my grades were so low.

My Life

In my memoir Fish Out of Water: Navigating Dyslexia, My Faith, and Road to Fish Biology, I wrote about my childhood struggle with dyslexia and how I eventually climbed out of the abyss of the disorder. I address how dyslexia symptoms affected me during most of my lifespan. I also offer ways one can overcome the disability. Be sure to grab your discounted copy at IngramSpark or on Amazon or other online retailers.

While society categorizes dyslexia as a disability, I continue to claim that dyslexia is not a disorder. Dyslexia is not a lack of intelligence or a reflection of laziness. It is a neurological difference that affects how the brain processes and decodes language. Individuals with dyslexia may struggle with reading, spelling, and writing, but their cognitive abilities extend far beyond these narrow domains. Check out my author website and dyslexia page as well for more information about how this disability affects people.

Dyslexia Symptoms In Preschoolers

Preschool Years Even before formal reading instruction begins, there may be early signs that a child is at risk for dyslexia. Preschoolers with dyslexia may exhibit delays in acquiring age-appropriate speech and language skills. They may struggle with articulating certain sounds or phonemes, leading to difficulties in pronouncing words correctly.

Additionally, they may experience challenges in expressive language, such as using appropriate vocabulary, forming complete sentences, or conveying their thoughts and ideas effectively. These speech and language delays can often be observed before formal reading instruction begins, serving as an early indicator of potential dyslexia. Early identification and intervention are crucial in supporting the speech and language development of these children, as well as addressing their future reading and writing difficulties.

Rhyming and playing rhyming games can be particularly challenging for dyslexic preschoolers due to their difficulties in perceiving and manipulating the sounds within words, a skill known as phonological awareness.

One of the key difficulties faced by dyslexic preschoolers is their struggle to identify and distinguish the individual sounds or phonemes that make up words. Rhyming requires the ability to isolate and recognize the same ending sounds in different words, such as “cat” and “hat.” However, for dyslexic children, this task can be incredibly daunting.

Rhyming Is Tough

When engaging in rhyming activities or games, dyslexic preschoolers may have trouble recognizing that certain words rhyme or do not rhyme. They may struggle to produce rhyming words themselves or to identify the odd one out in a set of rhyming words. This difficulty stems from their impaired ability to segment and manipulate the sounds within words, a critical skill for developing phonological awareness.

Furthermore, dyslexic preschoolers may find it challenging to participate in rhyming games that involve identifying or generating rhyming pairs or patterns. These games often require quick and accurate processing of sound patterns, which can be a significant hurdle for children with dyslexia.
The inability to rhyme or play rhyming games effectively can hinder the development of important pre-reading skills in dyslexic preschoolers. Early intervention and targeted phonological awareness activities are crucial to support their language and literacy development, as well as to help them overcome these challenges.

Dyslexic preschoolers often exhibit an inability to recognize letters in their own name, which can be a concerning early sign of potential reading difficulties.
For most children, their name is one of the first words they learn to recognize and associate with their identity. However, for dyslexic preschoolers, recognizing and identifying the individual letters that make up their name can be a significant challenge.

I experienced every single one of these symptoms as a preschooler. I don’t remember a lot of it, but certainly recall struggling with the first letter of my name, rhyming, and playing games.

Dyslexia Symptoms During School

Dyslexia symptoms
Graphic by Alexander Grey.

As kids with dyslexia are exposed to reading instruction, more obvious and common dyslexia symptoms tend to emerge, including problems associating letters and sounds, extreme difficulties with spelling and writing, avoidance of reading aloud or activities that involve reading, trouble memorizing number facts, difficulties with alphabetic order, and general disorganization with schoolwork and belongings.

Problems associating letters and sounds: Children with dyslexia may struggle to connect the written letters with their corresponding sounds, making it difficult to decode words accurately.

Extreme difficulties with spelling and writing: Dyslexia can manifest as significant challenges in spelling words correctly and expressing thoughts in written form due to the underlying issues with language processing and phonological awareness.

Avoidance of reading aloud or activities that involve reading: Recognizing their struggles with reading, children with dyslexia may actively avoid situations where they are required to read out loud or participate in activities that demand reading skills, as a coping mechanism or to avoid embarrassment.

Trouble memorizing number facts: Dyslexia can also impact the ability to memorize and retrieve numerical information, such as multiplication tables or basic arithmetic facts, due to difficulties with retrieving and processing symbols and their associated meanings.

Difficulties with alphabetic order: Organizing letters in their correct alphabetical sequence can be challenging for children with dyslexia, as it requires a strong understanding of the visual-spatial relationships between letters.

General disorganization with schoolwork and belongings: The cognitive challenges associated with dyslexia can extend beyond reading and writing, leading to difficulties with organization, time management, and keeping track of schoolwork, assignments, and personal belongings.

As kids in school become aware of their disability and difficulty, they likely will experience self-esteem problems. Furthermore, they will doubt future sucess.

Adolescent Challenges

Dyslexia symptoms are hard on adolescent. The challenges of dyslexia persist into the adolescent years for many individuals. During this stage, significant delays in reading comprehension and fluency are common, making it difficult to keep up with the increasing reading demands of higher-level academic content. Spelling and writing mechanics also remain areas of struggle, with frequent errors and difficulties in expressing thoughts coherently on paper. As a result, adolescents with dyslexia may actively avoid tasks that involve reading or writing, potentially hindering their academic progress and engagement.

Additionally, dyslexia can make it challenging to memorize and apply grammar rules consistently, leading to persistent issues with proper sentence structure and language conventions. Beyond the academic domain, poor time management and organizational skills often manifest, making it difficult for adolescents with dyslexia to stay on top of assignments, deadlines, and the overall demands of juggling multiple classes and responsibilities.

Learning to mitigate and work around these challenges become part of dyslexics strategy. For example, dyslexics can be good writers if spelling and grammar can be checked by a computer.

Adult Difficulties

There are plenty of dyslexia symptoms during adulthood. Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that persists into adulthood. While the challenges may manifest differently than in childhood, adults with dyslexia often experience various difficulties in their daily lives. Common signs of dyslexia in adults include a very slow reading rate and the need for frequent re-reading. They may struggle with weak spelling abilities and tend to avoid writing tasks altogether. Organizing thoughts coherently in written form can be a daunting task for individuals with dyslexia.

Furthermore, adults with dyslexia may encounter problems with remembering names, factual information, and have an extremely poor sense of direction or get lost easily. These challenges can have a significant impact on their personal and professional lives, making seemingly simple tasks more complicated than they should be.

It’s important to note that the signs of dyslexia can vary from person to person, and the severity of the condition may differ as well. However, if an adult notices a persistent pattern of any of these issues, it’s advisable to request a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified professional. With proper support strategies and resources in place, the effects of dyslexia can be minimized substantially at every age, allowing individuals to overcome the challenges and thrive in various aspects of their lives.

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