Dyslexia is an inherited condition that makes it extremely difficult to read, write, and spell despite appropriate instruction in all these areas and at least an average ability level. While there are many signs of dyslexia that are well known, like difficulties in reading, writing, and spelling, there are many signs that are less obvious. Some of these signs and symptoms include difficulties with:

Memorizing non-meaningful facts:

Memorizing facts that are not personally interesting or relevant is extremely difficult for most individuals with dyslexia. In school, this leads to difficulty learning things like:

  • Multiplication tables
  • Days of the week and/or months of the year in order
  • Science facts (what temp does water boil?)
  • History facts including dates, names, and places.

Telling time on a clock with hands:

  • They may be able to tell whole hours and half hours but not smaller chunks of time like 4:17.
  • Concepts like before and after on a clock are confusing to a dyslexic student so time arithmetic is impossible.
  • Having a digital clock face is helpful, but if you tell your dyslexic teen to be home in 15 minutes, they can’t figure out when that would be.


  • Left/Right Confusion – children and adults often need tricks and reminders of which way is left/right because it never becomes automatic for them.
  • Up/Down Confusion – This is when you see kids confuse “b” and “p” or “d” and “q”.
  • Direction words – Many dyslexic children confuse first/last, before/after, over/under, and even yesterday/tomorrow.
  • North, South, East, West – Students and adults with dyslexia struggle with reading maps and following directions and often find themselves lost when driving.

Sequencing steps in a task:

Learning any task that has a series of steps which must be completed in a specific order can be difficult because you must memorize the sequence of steps and many times, there is no logic to the sequence. Some examples include:

  • Tying Shoelaces – Not just a series of steps, but lots of direction words to remember!
  • Printing Letters – Often students can’t remember the sequence of pencil strokes necessary to form a particular letter.
  • Long Division – To complete a long division problem, you have to do a series of 5 steps, in exactly the right sequence, over and over again. Often, a student will know how to do each of the steps, but they get them out of sequence which results in a wrong answer.