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Why do dyslexic children reverse letters and/or numbers?

A dyslexic individual usually thinks in very visual terms. They may not realize that the direction of a letter or number matters. For example, a chair is a chair, no matter which way it's facing. Like the chair, a person with dyslexia may think a "b" looks like a "d" - so it must be the same letter.

Letters and/or numbers may be flipped vertically or horizontally.

The most common reversals are letters that are shaped similarly, such as:

6      9            b      d           p      q

 * Reversals in children under 8 are normal. However, by third grade, this should be a thing of the past. At this point, if they are not reading at grade level and reversing letters and numbers, you should have your child tested.



What to do about letter/number reversals?


The main idea is to teach the child that direction does matter. Then provide a framework for the child to remember the direction of that letter or number. Here is where you must work with what the child knows. Keep an eye out for which letters and/or numbers they are reversing and then come up with a way to teach the proper direction that the child can remember. For example, the most common letters that dyslexic children reverse is lower case 'b' and 'd'. A possible remedy is to have your child write a series of uppercase ‘D’s across a line (using a colored pencil).

We have an app for that!!
This addresses p-d-p reversals and also includes 2 activities that
are customizable for many letters & numbers in any orientation.

reversal games


b - d - p - q Reversal Drill

Below is a PDF that you can use with a laptop, tablet, or smart phone to practice these common reversals. We suggest you use the free Adobe Reader Apps for your device.


 pdfClick to download



b-d Reversal Activity:

Downloadable b-d Reversal Sheet

b-d reversal sheet

Click to download



Ask your child what the letters look like when they are on top of each other. Here they should notice that lowercase ‘b’ fits right into uppercase ‘B’, they don’t take up more space (like the ‘d’s did). If they don’t notice this, point it out.


Make sure your child can see the differences between what they found for the ‘Dd’s and ‘Bb’s. They should notice that you could fit the ‘Bb’s on top of one another, not needing any more room, however, the ‘Dd’s will take up more room, since little ‘d’ sticks out one side.



You can also draw a box around the Bb's and Dd's to see what fits in the box and what doesn't:


bd reversals


Another idea is to have your student learn how to write the letter using direction, clock-wise and counter clockwise:


Use direction to learn how to write a letter or number


Sometimes it helps if the child feels the letter or number, in which case you can create "feel boards" using twine and cardboard. With these, you can play games by having the child feel the letter (or number) with eyes closed and have him or her guess what it is.


help for letter reversals in dyslexia using feeling, touching





b d reversals using bed with hands


Make a fist with both hands, thumbs pointing in the air, fingers facing each other. When you put your fists together, it looks like a "bed" (with a headboard and footboard),  you can see the direction of the "b" and the "d" in the shape of the hands.

Instruct your student to first make a 'b' with their left hand, when they need to write a 'b' or 'd', so that they can check the shape before writing.  


Vertical '6' Reversal Activity:

Download the PDF to use on a computer or tablet. This will involve several activities to help your student distinguish the number six from a handwritten 2, the vertical six number reversal. *We recommend that you use the free adobe reader.

number 6 vertical reversal

Click to download


Click here for more number reversal activities.

Letter & Number Reversals

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