When are most people diagnosed with dyslexia? Can someone be diagnosed for the first time as a teenager, or even as an adult?


Arvind kumar, shortcut keys

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Nedda Gilbert, MSW, Educational Consultant, and Author

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It's possible to be diagnosed as a teen and even an adult. I know of medical school students who are first diagnosed with leaning disabilities. Some of this is a result of how well an individual compensated for and functioned with the disability. Some of this is a result of how much an individual tolerated or handled the effort required to make it through. It's entirely possible to slog through an entire childhood struggling but undiagnosed. Further, we live in a different world now. Depending on a person's age, it's likely educators were not as sophisticated then as they now are in picking up on learning disabilities.

Often a new environment - high school, college, graduate school, a job - with certain stressors and expectations suddenly pushes an individual's compensatory skills to the limit. And they now fail. Or what was always seen as a weakness in prior settings is now being revealed as a deeper issue. These are some of the reasons why a diagnosis may come later in life.

Tiffany Sunday, Tiffany Sunday - Dyslexic - Author - Entrepreneur

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As Kathryn mentioned in her response, generally students are diagnosed around the ages of 8 or when the child expresses difficulting reading, spelling or difficulties with language processing. I was diagnosed in the third grade. However, I knew something was not right as early as second grade and remember expressing my frustrations to my parents. My son was diagnosed at the same age. Keep in mind that dyslexia can run in families so if one family member has dyslexia chances of parent or sibling having dyslexia is also possible.

Today, schools are better equipt to screen and test students for dyslexia than ten or twenty years ago. However, never hesitate to speak with your child teacher or school if you have concerns. Just like our fingerprints, dyslexia affects each person differently and at varying degrees.

Kathryn deBros, Special Educator

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When most people are diagnosed probably depends on the school they came from - there are definitely adults who just "hate reading," and never got diagnosed. In general, it's safe to identify the disability around age 8 - some severe cases can be identified before that, but there's so much variability in development prior that lagging skills can be mistaken for a learning disability. Teachers have a responsibility to identify children with disabilities in order to provide an appropriate education for them (The Child Find Mandate) but it's certainly not uncommon for teens and adults to have unidentified dyslexia, otherwise known as a learning disability in reading, especially if there were behavior concerns in the classroom. In this case, a reading struggle may have been misinterpreted as class clowning or laziness - how horrible! If you are still in school, I recommend going to a teacher or counselor to ask about getting an evaluation done. Even colleges have departments of student services or disability services for students who need assistance. If you are no longer in school, you can get a referral from your doctor for a psychologist who is able to evaluate cognition and achievement and diagnose a learning disability.

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