Please pardon our dust! We're migrating to new web servers and improving our site. We know it’s taking a while but sit tight and we’ll be back better than ever very soon.

Understanding Dyslexia: What are the Effects of Dyslexia

If you prefer, read the text version of the infographic.


Understanding Dyslexia: Risks by Age

Preschool Years

Typical Readers Readers Readers at Risk for Dyslexia May
  • Notice repeated sounds in oral language (e.g. Baa, Baa, Black Sheep).
  • May start to pay attention to beginning or rhyming sounds in words.
  • Know the functions of print (e.g. know that different texts are used for different purposes, know that print has meaning).
  • Know 10 alphabet letters, and the letters in their name.
  • Have trouble learning common nursery rhymes.
  • Not recognize rhyming patterns.
  • Have difficulty learning and remembering the names of letters in the alphabet.
  • Use persistent “baby talk”.

Kindergarten to 1st Grade

Typical Readers Readers Readers at Risk for Dyslexia May
  • Learn one-to-one letter sound correspondences.
  • Understand that speech sounds map on to printed letters to form words.
  • Learn to decode regular one syllable words using their knowledge of letter-sound correspondences.
  • Begin to make sense of what they are reading.
  • Not associate letters with sounds.
  • Make reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters on the page.
  • Not understand that words “come apart”.
  • Not be able to sound out simple words like map, cat, pan.
  • Complain about how hard reading is.

2nd Grade and Beyond

Typical Readers Readers Readers at Risk for Dyslexia May
  • Use knowledge of letter-sound correspondences to sound out unknown words.
  • Use word parts to decode regular multisyllabic words.
  • Read accurately and fluently enough to concentrate on comprehension.
  • Often be very slow in acquiring reading skills.
  • Often guess at words.
  • Not be able to sound out words.
  • Confuse words that sound alike.
  • Avoid reading out loud.
  • Have poor spelling and messy handwriting.

Suggested Citation

National Center on Improving Literacy (2020). Understanding Dyslexia: What are the Effects of Dyslexia. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Special Education Programs, National Center on Improving Literacy. Retrieved from