Understanding Letter Reversals With Dr. Malkin

I often get calls from concerned parents about a child who continues to display letter reversals (i.e., mirrored writing) into first and even second grade. These children continue to write a number of letters, and even sometimes whole words, backward. Although these mistakes can be very concerning to any parent, they are common and do not necessarily indicate an underlying learning deficit.

Read Next: What does a dyslexia evaluation look like?

What Are Letter Reversals?

To understand letter reversals, it’s important to think about the world through the eyes of a child who does not know anything about letters or writing yet. In their world, the position of something does not change what it is.

For example, if you pick up a spoon and turn it from the right to the left, it is still a spoon. It does not change into a fork or knife. It is still a spoon no matter what direction it is facing because like everything else in life, direction or orientation do not change what something is. However, when it comes to a “b”, it magically changes when it flips to a “d”, “p” or “q”. The same is true with “s” and “z” and “2” and “5”.

To go one step deeper, the process of writing initially requires copying a mental image of a letter. Writing a letter requires a child to think about what the letter looks like and then try to copy that image from their mind until it has been learned in motor memory.

Before this point in a child’s education, all of the mental images that the child has encoded do not include orientation – only shape and sometimes color. Because of this, a child not only needs to learn the correct orientation of all the letters, they have to also master a whole new way of remembering things they see, which can be difficult for some children.

Dyslexia Evaluations With Dr. Malkin

Most children outgrow letter reversals with time and practice. However, if the child continues to struggle with letter reversals and shows other reading deficits, it may signify a deeper learning problem that needs further evaluation and remediation.

Dr. Malkin can help identify if your child has a learning disability with a comprehensive dyslexia evaluation, which assesses executive, academic, and intellectual functioning, among other areas. This evaluation determines the cause as well as the best learning styles for specific diagnoses to help your child succeed.