There is no doubt that learning to read transforms lives. Reading is the basis on which we learn just about everything – from the fundamentals of hygiene, diet and safety to the technical subject-specific knowledge required in highly skilled occupations.

In order to identify children at risk of dyslexia (reading impairment), it’s best to look for the early signs. As with speech and language, early identification of children at risk of dyslexia can help ensure they receive early intervention. This can help by targeting foundational reading skills so children learn the skills they need to become successful readers. Before we dive into the early signs, let’s first consider what dyslexia is.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a developmental difficulty in learning to read. This means a child has difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.

Dyslexia is a neurological condition, meaning it is based in the brain. It is a difference in the way the individuals brain is organised. This difference does not come about because the child is not intelligent. This is something the child is born with.

Dyslexia is a learning disorder.  That means there is no cure. Although dyslexia cannot be cured, with appropriate treatment and support children can improve their reading and writing skills and become successful readers.

Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that exists along a continuum. Each individual with dyslexia is unique in their strengths and weakness in learning to read.

Why is it important to identify dyslexia early?

Without specific treatment, a child with dyslexia may have difficulties with:

  • Following instructions – within the home and school environment.

  • Difficulty getting their message – across due to limited vocabulary.

  • Self esteem and confidence – when they realise their skills do not match their peers.

  • Accessing the curriculum – because they are are having difficulty reading age appropriate texts effecting their performance in school and on assessment tasks.

Early Signs of Dyslexia

There are some things you can look out for if you think your pre-school/kindergarten aged child is having difficulty learning to read.

  • Language or speech difficulties

    • Later to talk than most children

    • Difficulty understanding or using words and sentences

    • Speech pronunciation difficulties (e.g., busgetti for spaghetti, mawn lower for lawn mower)

    • Difficulty learning new words

    • Unable to recall the right words

    • Difficulty telling a story in the correct order

  • Difficulty with phonological awareness (i.e., foundational skills for reading).

    • Rhyming

    • Difficulty identifying words in spoken sentences, syllables in words (din-o-saur) and separating sounds in words (cat = c-a-t).

    • Struggling to blend sounds together to make words (e.g. b-a-t = bat)

  • Trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, colours, shapes and spelling or writing their own name,

  • Fine motor skills that are slower to develop

What can be done to help? 

Early Identification of children who are at risk for dyslexia mean they can be supported through many different strategies. Contact our team here at Active Speech Pathology if you have concerns regarding your child. We can provide assessment and intervention targeting your child’s foundational reading skills!


International Dyslexia Association. (2000). Common Signs of Dyslexia.  Retrieved from

Australian Dyslexia Association. (2019). What is Dyslexia? Retrieved from