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Dyslexia: Types, Symptoms and Causes

Do you know many famous people, artists, and scientists had Dyslexia? Can you imagine that Hollywood stars like Salma Hayek and Tom Cruise have reading, writing, or spelling challenges? Read this post to learn how people with this lifelong learning difficulty can succeed. Find out more about the signs and the symptoms of Dyslexia, the different types of Dyslexia, the treatment, and the cause of Dyslexia. But, most of all, discover how LD Network can support people with Dyslexia.

Table of Contents

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty primarily affecting abilities and skills with fluent and accurate reading, writing or spelling. Compared with other learning disabilities, Dyslexia isn’t affecting intelligence. But it is a lifelong condition, and only with adequate support people with Dyslexia can manage their learning abilities and improve their skills.

What is essential to know is that Dyslexia can be undiagnosed for years. However, early assessment is crucial. Any signs can help to identify the proper support or educational program. Only that way a child with Dyslexia will give the best outcome in school, or a student will succeed academically.

Signs and Symptoms of Dyslexia

child psychologist helping kid with dyslexia

This learning difficulty impacts people differently. Based on this, symptoms might not look the same for everyone. Some can’t correctly do math operations, while others need help learning a foreign language. Some people have a challenge memorising number facts, while others slowly learn new words.

Before we list some of the signs and symptoms of Dyslexia for different age groups, it’s crucial to emphasise that having one of the symptoms doesn’t mean a person has Dyslexia. But someone who shows a few of these signs and symptoms should do tests and assessments to help diagnose this learning difficulty.

Let’s explore further those signs and symptoms for each age group!

Signs and Symptoms of Dyslexia in Children

In certain cases, signs and symptoms of Dyslexia are easier to identify before a child starts school. However, the signs and symptoms are more obvious to identify once a child starts school because they focus more on learning to read and write. In the following paragraphs, we outline some common signs and symptoms of Dyslexia in children.


Some signs of Dyslexia and symptoms in children while they are in preschool include:

  • Delayed or late speech development and talking 
  • Little interest and difficulty in remembering letters, numbers and colours
  • Prone to mistakes (e.g. ‘chish and fips’ for ‘fish and chips’)
  • Difficulty forming words correctly
  • Learning new words and phrases slowly
  • Difficulty in pronouncing long words or phrases correctly (e.g. ‘beddy tear’ for ‘teddy bear’)
  • Difficulty learning nursery rhymes or playing rhyming games
  • Developing fine motor skills more slowly than other children
  • Difficulty telling or retelling a story in the correct sequence


Some signs of Dyslexia and symptoms in school-age children include:

  • Difficulty spelling, often unpredictably and inconsistently
  • Difficulty in learning the names and sounds of letters
  • Reading slowly and below the expected age level
  • Making mistakes when reading loud and avoiding reading activities
  • Difficulty remembering and carrying out a sequence
  • Difficulty and confusion in seeing or even hearing similarities and differences in letters and words
  • Slow writing speed and taking longer than usual to complete written work
  • Confusing the order of letters in words
  • Confusion over letters that look similar (e.g. writing ‘b’ instead of ‘d’)
  • Difficulty in processing, understanding and communicating what is heard
  • Difficulty browsing, scanning or proof-reading written text
  • Difficulty in taking notes and copying from a board
  • Difficulty with summarising or outlining text

Signs and Symptoms of Dyslexia in Teens and Adults

Often people with Dyslexia, especially adults, find ways and work around their challenges with reading, writing, or spelling. Therefore, identifying the signs and symptoms of Dyslexia often happens later in life, when a person is a teen or adult. Some signs of Dyslexia and symptoms in teens and adults include:

  • Difficulty spelling 
  • Difficulty reading and avoiding reading activities
  • Difficulty remembering the correct names for things
  • Difficulty with learning a foreign language 
  • Slow reading and writing below the expected age level 
  • Challenge with directions or reading maps
  • Challenge finishing assignments within time limits
  • Challenge memorising lists and numbers
  • Mispronouncing names or words
  • Difficulty summarising a story
  • Difficulty taking notes or copying words accurately

Causes of Dyslexia

There is still undergoing research to identify the exact causes of Dyslexia. What is so far available as information links the cause of Dyslexia with genetics and changes in the brain circuit that promotes reading. Lately, the focus has been on an approach that studies both environmental and genetic interaction as a factor contributing to reading development.

Can Trauma Cause Dyslexia?

In some cases, physical and emotional trauma is a potential cause of Dyslexia. In those cases, the Dyslexia is referred to as Trauma Dyslexia or as Acquired Dyslexia.

When there is physical trauma (fall from a ladder, car accident, sports injury, stroke, or concussion), a person can experience a brain injury that leads to Dyslexia.

When there is emotional trauma (emotional abuse, neglect, bullying, witnessing disaster or death), a person is exposed to stressful circumstances that lead to Dyslexia and other learning difficulties.

If a person has an experience like the abovementioned cases, it’s essential to ask for trauma-informed health care and support from professionally trained staff.

Can You Develop Dyslexia Later in Life?

A person can develop Dyslexia later in life. Sometimes that can be just Dyslexia from birth but identified much later in life. However, sometimes it is also possible to show signs and develop symptoms later in life due to brain injury or dementia. Often adults with Dyslexia may have more learning difficulties rather than just one. That is why proper and early diagnosis is essential to customise support and treatment.

Types of Dyslexia

There are several different types of Dyslexia. Each one of them has a unique set of symptoms and signs. Being familiar with the right type is helpful for the development of personalised support and providing the best care possible. To better identify the proper treatment for Dyslexia, we list some types of Dyslexia.

Phonological Dyslexia

The Phonological Dyslexia is believed to be the most common type. It deals with difficulties in matching sounds to symbols, as well as breaking words into syllables and smaller sound units called phonemes. Some symptoms may include the following:

  • Difficulty learning sounds made by letters
  • Difficulty sounding out unfamiliar words
  • Challenges with identifying familiar words in new contexts
  • Difficulty with spelling
  • Slow reading or avoiding reading activities

Rapid Naming Dyslexia

People with Rapid Naming Dyslexia have difficulty saying the names of colours, numbers, and letters. This type of Dyslexia may be linked to both reading pace and language processing. Some symptoms may include the following:

  • Difficulty remembering words
  • Frequently replacing words or leaving words out completely
  • Slow to respond verbally
  • Slower to complete reading or writing tasks
  • Using gestures instead of words

Double Deficit Dyslexia

Someone with Double Deficit Dyslexia has difficulty with two aspects of reading: speed and identifying the sounds in words. This type of Dyslexia is a combination of Rapid Naming Dyslexia as well as Phonological Dyslexia. Some symptoms may include the following:

  • Challenge with naming speed rate when asked to remember words
  • Challenge with phonological understanding

Surface Dyslexia

People with Surface Dyslexia have difficulty with whole word recognition and spelling. This is especially noticeable when words have irregular spelling-sound correspondences. Some symptoms may include the following:

  • Difficulty with whole-word recognition
  • Slow to read or avoiding reading activities
  • Difficulty with spelling
  • Difficulty reading words that don’t sound the way they’re spelt
  • Difficulty reading new words by sight

Visual Dyslexia

Visual Dyslexia affects the visual processing that reflects on the ability to learn to read or learn how to spell or form letters. Both learning processes require brain activity to remember the correct letter sequence or shape, but with this type of Dyslexia, the brain doesn’t get the complete picture of what the eyes see. Some symptoms may include the following:

  • Text appearing blurred or in and out of focus
  • Text appearing double
  • Difficulty tracking across lines of written text
  • Headaches associated with reading

Dyslexia Diagnosis

Informed parents and teachers in schools can identify the first signs and symptoms of Dyslexia. After that, they can speak with paediatricians or specialists like speech pathologists, neuropsychologists, clinical psychologists, or school psychologists.

To diagnose Dyslexia, professionals run several assessments and a series of tests. Part of the evaluation requires information on a family history of Dyslexia or another learning disability. One recommendation for diagnosing Dyslexia is careful observation of the person in the school or home environment.

Any early diagnosis of Dyslexia can later lead to support at school and accommodations at school and work. However, it’s never too late to ask for professional services.

Dyslexia Treatment

Even though Dyslexia is a lifelong condition, with proper education programs, people can learn and improve their reading, or writing skills, or spelling skills. On the long run, individuals can improve even their quality of life.

Generally, the support comes from a teacher, tutor, or therapist trained using a multisensory, structured language approach. Therapists design and develop a treatment plan to best address the specific needs of a person with Dyslexia.

Also, schools, universities and companies can adjust their education programs and make necessary modifications for children, students, and people with Dyslexia to succeed. For example:

  • Give extra time to complete tasks
  • Help with taking notes
  • Offer trained tutors and assistants
  • Record reading assignments
  • Provide audiobooks
  • Install text reading and word processing computer programs
  • Provide emotional support
  • Provide mental health care

These are just some of the ways to help people with Dyslexia. There are many other suggestions, but mostly the right ones come from the professional report after the assessment and diagnosis.

Learning Difficulties Associated with Dyslexia

There are other learning difficulties often associated with Dyslexia. They don’t belong under the types of Dyslexia we mentioned here, but experts believe they are neurological. These learning difficulties are:

Living With Dyslexia

Dyslexia indeed affects a person’s reading, writing or spelling skills and abilities. It is also true that a person needs individualised support in different forms to cope with any challenges. But this condition has nothing to do with the intelligence of a person. Additionally, people with Dyslexia are often capable in areas such as art, design, drama, music and sports. 

 So, a diagnosis of Dyslexia can be discouraging, but it should not be an obstacle to accomplishing great things. Many known people with diagnosed Dyslexia have done extraordinary work. Some of those well know people throughout history are the film director Steven Spielberg, the musician Cher, the actress Salma Hayek, the actor Tom Cruise, the NBA player Magic Johnson and many others.

LD Network is Supporting People With Dyslexia

LD Network aims to support people with learning disabilities and difficulties, including people with Dyslexia.

We understand that everyone has unique needs and challenges. That is why we customise the approach to address those needs and challenges. We do that by developing personalised plans and tailor-made support.

If you want to learn more about the services that LD Network offers, please email us or visit one of our offices in Bristol and Exeter.

Support Individuals with Dyslexia with LD Network

LD Network has the resources and the professionals to help individuals with Dyslexia live meaningful life.

But we are constantly on the lookout for skilled, dedicated and committed professionals. If you consider yourself as such, contact us and express interest in joining LD Network.

Check out the open job positions here!