Signs and early indicators of dyslexia

Although all children learn at their own pace, a child who has been struggling with reading and spelling may actually be struggling with dyslexia.  Signs and indicators of dyslexia can be seen as early as pre-school. Many times children who are struggling to read are dismissed as slow learners, just needing a little more time, unmotivated or lazy.

As a parent, caregiver or teacher,  you are in the best position to know if something does not feel “right”.  

There are many checklists and informal screeners online that you can use as a start.  If your child has one or two of these signs, it does not necessarily mean that he or she has dyslexia.  If your child has several of the signs you might consider having your child formally assessed.

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity and the National Centre for Learning Disabilities in the United States provides detailed lists of signs that parents and teachers can look for through various grades.

Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity – Signs of Dyslexia

Understood – Dyslexia:  What you are seeing

How do I get my child tested for Dyslexia?

There are two ways to get your child tested for Dyslexia:

  1. Through your school board

  2. Private assessment

Children can be assessed for dyslexia as early was age 5 1/2. There is no one test for Dyslexia. A battery of tests must be administered, generally over two or three sessions. Individuals may be tested at any age. The evaluator may work with other professionals such a s speech and language pathologists, psychologists, physicians and occupational therapists. In Ontario, a diagnosis of a learning disability must be made by a registered psychologist, in order for the child to be identified as an exceptional pupil.

You can also find online assessment tools here:

International Dyslexia Association Self-Assessment Tool (for adults)

International Dyslexia Association Dyslexia Screener (for children)

How do I get my child tested for Dyslexia?

More information on getting an assessment – link it to the Assessors page

What should an evaluation include?

The expert evaluator will conduct a comprehensive assessment to determine whether the person's learning problems may be related to other disorders, such as attention deficit and or hyperactivity disorder, mood disorders, pervasive developmental disorders and physical or sensory impairments. In general, an evaluation will include the following:

  • A case history that includes information on development, medical history, behaviour, academic and family history

  • A measure of intellectual functioning (in Ontario , this is usually the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, or WISC)

  • Tests of specific oral language skills related to reading and writing success, including a test of phonological processing

  • Educational tests to determine level of functioning in basic skill areas of reading, spelling, written language and math. Testing in reading and writing should include the following measures: single word decoding of real and nonsense words, oral and silent reading in context, reading comprehension, spelling in isolation and in text, sentence, story and essay writing, handwriting

  • A classroom observation, and a review of the remediation efforts to date

How can I support my child at home?

  • Find a tutor for your child who has expertise in teaching students with dyslexia. Contact ONBIDA to do so

  • Start and maintain a folder of all letters and materials related to your child’s education

  • Include copies of school files and names and dates of all assessments and results

  • Collect samples of schoolwork that demonstrate your child’s difficulties

  • Collect examples of your child’s unique strengths and natural affinities

  • Keep a contact log of discussions with professionals

  • Keep a log of your own observations

  • Work with your child’s teachers to develop and monitor the Individual Education Plan

  • Talk to your child at a developmentally appropriate level about learning disabilities

  • Encourage your child to become an advocate on his/her own behalf as he/she matures

  • Know your legal rights

  • Work as a team with the school to support your child