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5 Early Signs of Childhood Dyslexia

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jan 21, 2023

5 Early Signs of Childhood Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty affecting the parts of the brain that process language. People with dyslexia have trouble relating speech sounds to letters and words; that’s why they develop reading, writing, and spelling difficulty. While there’s no cure for this condition, experts highlight that early diagnosis and intervention result in better outcomes. In this article, we’ll talk about the early signs of childhood dyslexia.

The Early Signs of Childhood Dyslexia

Since kids with dyslexia often find it hard to read, write, and spell, some think that the condition affects intelligence. However, this is not the case: dyslexia does not affect a person’s intelligence.

Most cases of dyslexia are diagnosed after the child enters school. But did you know that some signs appear as early as when they are just three years old?

Here are the early signs of childhood dyslexia:

Difficulty talking

Young children who may have dyslexia often experience difficulty talking, which means they might have delayed speech.

Furthermore, the child may talk, but with muddled words such as “flutterby,” “beddy tear,” and “cumberber.” They also cannot recognize patterns like how the words “bat,” “cat,” and “sat” sound the same. This is because children who have dyslexia often experience poor auditory discrimination, which means they cannot distinguish similarities and differences between sounds.

Additionally, parents might notice that their child finds it hard to recite the alphabet or learn nursery rhymes; not only do they have trouble with the words, but they also have trouble keeping up with the rhythm.

early signs of childhood dyslexia

Difficulty following directions

Most 3-year olds can already follow simple, consecutive instructions. For instance, if you tell them to put their toys in the box and then put the box on the shelf, they’ll likely keep up without being confused.

If you find yourself wondering, “Is my child dyslexic?”, remember that children with dyslexia may find it hard to follow consecutive instructions. However, they’ll do well if you give simple directions, one at a time.

Loves stories but doesn’t have a favorite book

Even if they can’t read yet, preschoolers will tell you that they already have a favorite book as they can associate it with their favorite story.

A child who may have dyslexia or another learning difficulty probably loves a particular story but does not have a favorite book. This is because they don’t like the letters and words they see in books. In case you read them a story, you may notice that they are not paying attention or cannot sit still.

May seem forgetful

Most preschoolers always have something to share with their parents, such as what their friend did, the color of the car they saw, or what their teacher taught them to do at preschool.

If a child has dyslexia, they may appear forgetful as they cannot recall the name of their teacher and friends, and they can’t remember the names of colors.

Have problem meeting some developmental milestones

According to the British Dyslexia Association, not hitting some developmental milestones is also part of the early signs of childhood dyslexia. Case in point, a young child with dyslexia may find it hard to:

  • Do arts and crafts because they have trouble cutting, sticking, and coloring.
  • Dress themselves (they cannot insert buttons, tie shoelaces, etc.)
  • Catch or kick a ball
  • Jump or hop
  • Play as they often trip, fall, or bump into things

And finally, a child with dyslexia may have prominent good and bad days for no apparent reason.

Next steps

More than noting these early signs of childhood dyslexia, remember that two other things matter:

  • How often your child exhibits the symptoms
  • How long the issue has been present

This is because it’s common for children to make mistakes, so being forgetful and not following directions from time to time don’t immediately mean there’s a problem. Additionally, keep in mind that kids grow and develop on their own pace. If they have trouble memorizing the alphabet or singing a song now, they might just need more practice.

If you’re worried about your child’s learning, communication, and language skills, set an appointment with a doctor. The sooner you find out if they have dyslexia or another learning difficulty, the sooner you can intervene.

Learn more about Learning Difficulty in Children here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jan 21, 2023

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