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Reading Programs & Resources for Dyslexia & Struggling Readers 
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Letter & Number Reversals

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.

b-d, p-q, 6-9



* 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.

1.    For an interactive approach, we have our free online reversal app, which contains many activities for commonly reversed letters, as well as others.

Click on the app icon below to play.

Letter and Number Reversal App


2. As part of a multisensory approach, for the common b-d reversals, have your student write a series of uppercase ‘B’s in a line (using a colored pencil). Then have him/her write lowercase 'b's on top of the uppercase 'B's. Point out how the two go in the same direction.

b-d Reversal Help

b-d Reversal Help



Then have your student write a series of uppercase 'D's, and then write the lowercase 'd's on top. Point out how the 'd's do not go in the same direction as its uppercase letter.

b-d Reversal Help

b-d Reversal Help

b-d reversal help

Click here for a PDF for this activity.


3. 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.

bd reversal help using the word bed; with hands



4. 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.

Bb feel board to help with reversals



5. You can create visual images that will help reinforce direction of the problemmed letters or numbers. For example below is a link to a PDF that has a series of "slides" to help with when the number 6 is reversed with a handwritten 2. Click on the image to download the PDF, and use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to easily swipe through the slides.

bd reversal help using the word "bed" with hands



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