Common Risk Factors

  • Common Risk Factors Associated with Dyslexia 

    If the following behaviors are unexpected for an individual’s age, educational level, or cognitive abilities,

    they may be risk factors associated with dyslexia. A student with dyslexia usually exhibits several of

    these behaviors that persist over time and interfere with his/her learning. A family history of dyslexia

    may be present; in fact, recent studies reveal that the whole spectrum of reading disabilities is strongly

    determined by genetic predispositions (inherited aptitudes) (Olson, Keenan, Byrne, & Samuelsson,




    •  Delay in learning to talk
    •  Difficulty with rhyming
    •  Difficulty pronouncing words (e.g., “pusgetti” for “spaghetti,” “mawn lower” for “lawn mower”)
    •  Poor auditory memory for nursery rhymes and chants
    •  Difficulty in adding new vocabulary words
    •  Inability to recall the right word (word retrieval)
    •  Trouble learning and naming letters and numbers and remembering the letters in his/her name
    •  Aversion to print (e.g., doesn’t enjoy following along if book is read aloud)


    Kindergarten and First Grade

    •  Difficulty breaking words into smaller parts or syllables (e.g., “baseball” can be pulled apart into “base” “ball” or “napkin” can be pulled apart into “nap” “kin”)
    •  Difficulty identifying and manipulating sounds in syllables (e.g., “man” sounded out as /m//a//n/
    •  Difficulty remembering the names of letters and recalling their corresponding sounds
    •  Difficulty decoding single words (reading single words in isolation)
    •  Difficulty spelling words the way they sound (phonetically) or remembering letter sequences in very common words seen often in print ( e.g., “sed” for “said”)


    Second Grade and Third Grade

    Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic along with the following:

    •  Difficulty recognizing common sight words (e.g., “to,” “said,” “been”)
    •  Difficulty decoding single words
    •  Difficulty recalling the correct sounds for letters and letter patterns in reading
    •  Difficulty connecting speech sounds with appropriate letter or letter combinations and omitting letters in words for spelling (e.g., “after” spelled “eftr”)
    •  Difficulty reading fluently (e.g., slow, inaccurate, and/or without expression)
    •  Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words in sentences using knowledge of phonics
    •  Reliance on picture clues, story theme, or guessing at words
    •  Difficulty with written expression


    Fourth Grade through Sixth Grade

    Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic, along with the following:

    •  Difficulty reading aloud (e.g., fear of reading aloud in front of classmates)
    •  Avoidance of reading (e.g., particularly for pleasure)
    •  Acquisition of less vocabulary due to reduced independent reading
    •  Use of less complicated words in writing that are easier to spell than more appropriate words (e.g., “big” instead of “enormous”)
    •  Reliance on listening rather than reading for comprehension


    Middle School and High School

    Many of the previously described behaviors remain problematic, along with the following:

    •  Difficulty with the volume of reading and written work
    •  Frustration with the amount of time required and energy expended for reading
    •  Difficulty with written assignments
    •  Tendency to avoid reading (particularly for pleasure)
    •  Difficulty learning a foreign language