Dyslexia and SLD in Young Children

What is it?

Dyslexia affects approximately 10% of the Australian population and is best described as persistent or ongoing difficulty with reading and spelling. The term SLD (specific learning difficulty) is also commonly used now, as it covers a broader range of associated phonological difficulties.

Children identified as having dyslexia are by no means intellectually inept, in fact, intelligence levels are often above average. Children with dyslexia just learn differently, and therefore need to be nurtured and educated accordingly.

It is also important to remember that dyslexia presents on many different levels of severity, with various cognitive processes being affected in some individuals more than others. Some cases are very mild requiring some assistance and monitoring, while other children will need more support to learn in a way that works for them.


Quick fact – Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg and Sir Richard Branson have all been diagnosed with dyslexia, but it didn’t hold them back!


Recognising dyslexia symptoms in pre-schoolers:

  • Significant delays in milestones and speech development
  • Problems repeating and pronouncing words
  • Difficulty recognising simple shapes and colours
  • Problems with learning and writing their own name
  • Not registering/remembering simple rhymes and songs
  • Cannot retell simple stories in correct order of events
  • Not recognising simple and familiar sight words
  • Has trouble with simple sequences, e.g. days of the week.

And symptoms in primary school-age children include:

  • Confusing individual letters
  • Writing certain words backwards
  • Unable to read an entire word
  • Avoids reading tasks, alone or aloud
  • Grammar and spelling development problems

What causes it?

We don’t know for sure but research has shown that a type of glitch in the circuitry of the brain can make it difficult for dyslexic people to link printed letters and words with the sounds they should represent. It has also been linked to genetics, with more than a third of people diagnosed having a close family member with the same condition.

Other researchers have linked dyslexia to poor central vision, and some people with the condition find that using a pointer – to follow the words as they read – can be a great help.

What if my young child is presenting the symptoms?

The Australian Dyslexia Association highly recommends that parents should seek advice as soon as they (or a teacher, or caregiver) notices a child experiencing persistent and unexpected difficulties with their language and reading development. Early recognition is key to the effective management of any learning condition and they will advise parents if an ADA pre-assessment screening is required.


“All children who struggle with reading and spelling can benefit from a direct, explicit, systematic, structured, multisensory approach. This type of instruction can assist all students with or without difficulties to gain a deeper understanding of the English language.” – Australian Dyslexia Association

At Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning and Childcare Centres NSW, our dedicated educators develop age-specific activity-based learning curriculums for the children in our care. Our programs include multisensory play to develop core motor skills and cognitive ability. Even before our little learners can talk, read or write, we are exposing them to an array of concepts and ways in which they can learn through their own natural processes. Levels of ability will be assessed and monitored by our experienced centre staff and any developmental concerns raised with the family.

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” ~ Ignacio Estrada