Young children with dyslexia struggle with phonological awareness, including skills such as rhyming, clapping syllables, or sequencing of sounds, which are fundamental to literacy acquisition.

Recognising early signs of dyslexia

Children may have difficulty remembering and retrieving information, understanding what is said to them, and expressing themselves. Research demonstrates that all of these skills are critical for the more complicated processes of reading and writing.

One of the most common misconceptions about dyslexia is that it is a simple matter of reading words "backwards." Instead, it refers to differences in the brain that result in language learning difficulties associated with auditory skills.

A breakdown in these auditory skills can be observed in very young children when they struggle to recognize and create rhyming words, to identify the number of sounds in a word, and to blend sounds together to form words. For some students, the reading process is further complicated by visual processing and perceptual deficits.

Early signs of dyslexia

The following checklist serves as a guideline to identify children in preschool to kindergarten who might be at risk for reading disabilities.

Sound awareness

  • Lack of sensitivity to rhyme: does not show an interest in word play or nursery rhymes

  • Has difficulty identifying (clapping or counting) syllables in spoken words: (sun-shine, hos-pit-al)

  • Has difficulty recognising words that begin or end with the same sound (man-mop)

Speech production

  • Confuses similar sounding words: cheese/keys-thin/fin

  • May have difficulty saying multi-syllabic words with varied sound patterns (animal, spaghetti)

  • May have speech articulation issues (th/f)

Language comprehension

  • Lacks understanding of concepts involving space or time (front/back, before/after)

  • Frequently requests repetition of directions

  • Has difficulty drawing conclusions and predicting outcomes

Language expression

  • Makes grammatical errors (“we goed to the store”)

  • Tells a story in a disorganized fashion (lacks a clear beginning, middle, and end)

  • May use words such as “stuff” or “thing” in place of a specific word


  • Has difficulty learning sequences (days of the week)

  • Responds to only a part of a direction

  • Inconsistently remembers names