Dyslexia in Young Adult and Adulthood

Dyslexia in Young Adult and Adulthood

As a reading practitioner, knowing the possible signs of dyslexia is a prerequisite. While only a psychologist or neurologist can diagnose dyslexia, all of the stakeholders in a child’s life can and should be aware of what to look for.

Sally Shaywitz calls them clues to dyslexia and signs of strengths in higher-level thinking processes.

The fellow that trained me in Orton-Gillingham called them red flags (and green flags).

In any case, there are some general things we can pay attention to if we know what to look for.

If any of these apply to you or your child, consider getting outside assistance from a professional or contact us.

Red Flags of Dyslexia in Adults and Young Adults

  • Persistence of earlier oral language difficulties
  • The mispronunciation of the names of people and places; tripping over parts of words
  • Difficulty remembering names of people and places and the confusion of names that sound alike
  • A struggle to retrieve words: “It was on the tip of my tongue”
  • Lack of glibness, especially if put on the spot
  • Some anxiety when called to speak on publicly
  • Spoken vocabulary that is smaller than listening vocabulary, hesitation to say aloud words that might be mispronounced
  • Difficulty learning a foreign language

Reading Problems

  • A childhood history of reading and spelling difficulties
  • Word reading becomes more accurate over time but continues to require great effort
  • Lack of fluency
  • Embarrassment caused by oral reading
  • Trouble reading and pronouncing uncommon, strange, or unique words such as people’s names, street, or location names, food dishes on a menu (often resorting to asking the waiter “What’s the special of the day?”)
  • Persistent reading problems
  • The substitution of made-up words during reading that cannot be pronounced; for example, metropolitan becomes mitan and the word metropolitan is not recognized when it is seen again or heard in a lecture the next day
  • Extreme fatigue from reading
  • Slow reading of most materials- books, manuals, subtitles in foreign films, teleprompter
  • Penalized by multiple-choice tests, leading to very bad results
  • Unusually long hours spent on reading school or work related materials
  • Frequent sacrifice of social life for studying
  • A preference for books with figures, charts, or graphics
  • A preference for books with fewer words per page or with lots of white showing on a page
  • Disclination to read for pleasure
  • Spelling that remains disastrous, and a preference for less complicated words in writing that are easier to spell
  • Particularly poor performance on rote mechanical or clerical tasks that require minimal thinking or reasoning

Green Flags: Signs of Strengths In a Young Adult or Adult Who Has Dyslexia

  • The maintenance of strengths noted in school-age period
  • A high learning capacity
  • A noticeable improvement when given additional time on multiple-choice examinations
  • A noticeable excellence when focused on highly specialized area such as medicine, law, public policy, finance, literature, or basic science
  • Excellence in writing if content and not form is important
  • A noticeable articulateness of in the expression of ideas and feelings, and exceptional empathy and warmth, feeling for others
  • Successes in areas not dependant on rote memory
  • A talent for high level conceptualization and the ability to come up with original insights
  • Big-picture thinking
  • Inclination to think outside the box
  • A noticeable resilience and ability to adapt
  • Ability to get the point, often almost instantly, leaping over others who are stuck thinking sequentially

Sources: Sally Shaywitz Overcoming Dyslexia