Childhood Dyslexia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Childhood dyslexia is a learning disorder that, if not treated early, can become a problem for children's performance.
Childhood Dyslexia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Last update: 24 October, 2020

There are children with learning disorders who have a hard time following along in class. Because of this, many of them have a lower performance that also affects their self-esteem. There are different types of learning disabilities, but today we’ll focus on childhood dyslexia.

Dyslexia can appear at different times during a person’s growth – from childhood, throughout school, and into adulthood. In the case of children, they have difficulty learning to read and write, even though they’re intelligent and want to learn.

Although there is no cure for this disorder, early detection and a special program at school can make it possible for children to achieve academic success.

What is childhood dyslexia?

Childhood dyslexia is one of the most common learning disorders –  about 5% of children between the ages of 7 and 9 have it. This disorder causes difficulties when it comes to reading and writing and, therefore, it affects the child’s learning. It can manifest itself in different ways, but frequently it involves inversions when reading certain words, numbers, or letters.

Childhood Dyslexia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Children with dyslexia have a hard time identifying sounds when speaking and understanding how these sounds relate to written letters and words (decoding). This disorder, also known as “reading difficulty,” affects the areas of the brain that deal with language.

Children with this disorder have normal intelligence and vision, so they can succeed in school with the help of a specialized school program and a tutor. Emotional support also plays a key role.

Although there is no cure for childhood dyslexia, early assessment is crucial so that interventions can be made as soon as possible to achieve better results.

Symptoms of childhood dyslexia

Dyslexia can manifest itself in a variety of ways and the intensity will depend on the child’s age. Some functions that can be affected are motor skills, vocabulary, memory, perception and speech.

Symptoms may be more complicated to detect in preschool children and become easier to detect in the following school years. So, let’s look at some of the most common symptoms.

Symptoms in preschoolers

  • Difficulty in forming words properly.
  • Difficulty in learning new words.
  • Reversal of sounds in words.
  • Inversion of letters that are written similarly.
  • Confusion between words that sound alike when pronounced.
  • Difficulty saying the name of or remembering letters, numbers and colors.
  • Difficulty learning nursery rhymes, poems or songs.

Symptoms in school-age children

  • Below-average reading level for their age.
  • Difficulties in pronouncing words they don’t know.
  • Spelling difficulties.
  • Needing more time for activities that require reading or writing
  • Avoiding activities that are related to reading.
  • Difficulties in grasping the similarities and differences between words and letters, sometimes even in hearing them.
  • Difficulties in processing and understanding what they hear.
  • Problems remembering a sequence of things.

Symptoms in adolescents and adults

  • Problems with word spelling.
  • Difficulties with mental reading or reading aloud.
  • Mispronounce words or names.
  • Difficulty remembering words.
  • Comprehension problems.
  • Difficulty learning languages.
  • Difficulty summarizing texts or stories.
  • Very slow reading and writing.
  • Difficulty solving math problems.
  • Difficulty in memorizing.
  • Avoiding tasks that are related to reading.
Childhood Dyslexia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to see a professional for a comprehensive evaluation and guidance regarding what treatment is best.

Causes of childhood dyslexia

One of the factors that can cause this disorder is hereditary. It’s been found that certain genes determine the way in which the brain processes language and reading. For this reason, the existence of a family member with dyslexia may be one of the reasons why this disorder arises.

Other causes of childhood dyslexia is premature birth or the conditions surrounding birth. Also, exposure during pregnancy to certain substances such as the following:

  • Tobacco (nicotine).
  • Alcohol.
  • Drugs.
  • Severe infections of the mother during pregnancy (affecting the brain of the fetus).

Other possible causes of dyslexia are

  • Brain injuries.
  • Visual perception problems.
  • Poor connection between the brain hemispheres.
  • Emotional problems.
  • Poor phonological awareness.
  • Treatment of childhood dyslexia

With respect to the treatment of this disorder, the most important thing is early detection, since reading and writing are essential in a person’s development.

Treatment depends on the age at which the diagnosis is made and consists, above all, of intervention in language, phonology and reading in a personalized way.

When dealing with this problem, other difficulties derived from it must also be taken into account. These can include motor difficulties, self-esteem problems, attention problems, etc. In this sense, parents should follow these tips to manage the problem:

  • Be in contact with the school in order to work together.
  • Read stories aloud to the child.
  • Promote frequent reading, but be an example as well. Read while your child reads.
  • Seek professional help to treat this disorder early.


In short, we can say that childhood dyslexia is a disorder that must be addressed early on so that it doesn’t become a problem in other areas in a person’s life. If help comes early, the effects and difficulties it represents can be controlled.

So, as a parent, try to put into practice the advice we have given in this article and, above all, ask for professional help to guide you in order to treat childhood dyslexia as soon as possible.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.