Dyslexia in Children

Dyslexia in children is a learning disorder that makes it difficult to read, write and spell. It is a neurological issue, not an intellectual disability, where the brain mixes up letters and words. Most children with this disability are very bright, but not being able to read well obviously causes school to be difficult. Approximately 5-17% of the population suffers from this disorder. IDEA recognizes this condition as a qualifying condition of special education since it is a specific learning disability.


  • Talking later than average, slow to learn new words, and problems with rhyming
  • Difficulty in following multiple step directions
  • Problem with reading single words
  • Problems linking letters with sounds
  • Confusing small words
  • Reversing shapes of written letters, like b and d
  • Writing words backwards.
  • Difficulty with learning the alphabet
  • Being confused by opposites
  • Very poor spelling


Although dyslexia in children may be diagnosed by a medical doctor, because it is a reading disorder, it may first be noticed in school during the primary years. If suspected, a specialist or school psychologist may perform a battery of tests including an assessment of reading abilities, short term memory, sequencing skills, coding skills and an IQ test.


Therapy sessions with a speech-language pathologist or tutoring with a reading specialist may be recommended. IEP goals usually focus on having the child learn to understand how letters are linked to sounds and how sounds make words. The child practices reading aloud and they learn to listen and repeat instructions. Medications are usually not part of the treatment plan.

A child with a reading disability should qualify for special education services under the category of specific learning disability. The individualized education program (IEP) should outline the services that best meet the needs of the child. Interventions may include sessions with a reading specialist, school psychologist or a speech-language pathologist.

It is possible for a child with dyslexia to also suffer from other learning disabilities.

If you suspect your child may have additional disorders, you should meet with the school psychologist or student study team (SST) to discuss further interventions. The section on study skills may also be helpful if you are looking for specific strategies on how to strengthen your child's school performance.

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