Topic | Questions about transposed numbers and backward letters

This topic contains 13 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Heather 4 years, 6 months ago.

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  • Heather

    My 8 year old son is transposing numbers and writing backward letters quite often.  My youngest dd6, does it occasionally but can correct herself after she sees it written down…and my oldest dd10 also had the issue when she was younger, but was able to correct herself also.  My ds isn’t able to catch his mistakes.  At what point should I begin to think I may be dealing with a dyslexia issue, rather than something he’ll grow out of?  

    Some examples are:

    writing “20” as “02”, “40” as “04”, “14” as “41”, backwards 3s and backwards 5s

    reading “p” as “q”, “b” as “d” and vice versa

    reading “saw” as “was” and vice versa

    Thanks for your help!


    My son does the same thing with your last 2 reading ones.  He is only 6.5 though.  I have had the same thing in my other children, at least 2 of them and they just grew out of it.  I don’t exactly remember when maybe 9-10 ish.  I am sorry I don’t have an answer for you just wanted to say I find in my home it’s pretty normal to do this when they are young.  Though I would like to hear when someone thinks it might be something to worry about.


    My kids do this quite a bit, but it seems to lessen as they get older.  My 6yo does all of the examples you listed fairly frequently.  My current 8yo switches his numbers fairly often (like 02 instead of 20) as well as occaisionally writing them backwards.  I can’t remember the last time my 10yo did any of this, but I know she did frequently at those ages and it gradually became less frequent.  

    My 8yo does catch his mistakes, either after he writes it or after I point it out.  I’m not sure what’s “normal” though, just what we’ve experienced.  I don’t think it seems too unusual, but I’d keep an eye on it.


    Hi Heather-

    I don’t know the answer, but I have the same question! My dd- 11years old outgrew transposing by about 6-7 years, but my son who will be 9 in September still transposes numbers and letters frequently. He is a reluctant learner- all boy. I keep hoping he will outgrow this transposing.

    He gets 3’s, and 6’s backwards, but will transpose other things as well. We use a trick for b and d. For d we say that c comes right before d in the alphabet, so make a c first then add the stick, and for b I have drawn a bouncing ball that forms the b. I am not sure when he will need further evaluation.

    My son is about half way through our reading curriculum, and making progress.

    Can your son read?

    Do you have access to a child development center associated with a university?


    If he is reading ok, can spell ok (which is harder to evaluate if you haven’t done much spelling), then it likely isn’t dyslexia.


    It could be mixed-dominance – that often causes letter/number reversals.     I discovered (a couple of weeks ago) that Echo has mixed dominance.   She is left-handed, and right-eyed.   (Of course, some kids are right-handed and left-eyed.)  It is harder for kids like these to do some things, and reversals is quite common.   (Echo used to mirror write!)   There are some simple exercises to help – we just started them so I can’t say if they help or not)


    I have some links (including a simple test for mixed dominance) on pintrest – but pintrest isn’t loading for me this morning?  I also have some links for simple screening tests for dyslexia (not conclusive).


    Suzukimom, I’d love to see your links when you get the chance. We have the same issues here (including some mirror writing). Both my 7yo do these things, and both are new readers (to the level of starting AAR v 2). My now 16yo did this when was young but it isn’t a problem anymore. I don’t remember when it stopped. When one of my 7yo (Armand) was having such a difficult time reading even CVC words, I was very worried. I see progress now and feel less worried. They will be testing (Woodcock Johnson) next week and the tester specializes in delayed reading so she said if she notices anything of concern she’ll let me know. Maybe I’ll have more info next week to add to this discussion.


    If he gets to a point where you feel he is not making progress in reading and spelling, then you may want to consider dyslexia. My daughter only had minor issues with reversals. But, dyslexia isn’t so much about reversals as most people believe. I knew my daughter had some struggles, but it really didn’t become a major concern until we hit that roadblock in the middle of this school year. She was 9.5 years old when I threw up my arms and said, ‘What am I going to do?’ It not only showed up in her reading and spelling, but in math as well. Those with dyslexia can also struggle in math. They say dyslexia is inherited. Is there dyslexia on either side of the family? In our adoption file it says our daughter’s birthmom had dyslexia. I didn’t even give that a thought until after I began pursuing help in this area. If your son is reading and spelling well and not having too much trouble with math, I’d give it some time. HTH


    Here are some resources I’ve gathered, including pins to a couple of free online dyslexia screening tools, and the homemade test (and info on figure-8 letters) for mixed dominance.



    I just saw this on pinterest. Maybe it might help you all.



    I think it is called dysgraphia when it concerns math. I have wondered about this with one of my children, but she is only 7 so I’m giving it time. One of my sons did outgrew the flipping letters EXCEPT z. I don’t know what to do. He can read ANYTHING and doesn’t have any signs. He is left-handed, so I equate it to that. I correct him everytime now though, because I think it is just a habit and he is almost 11 (and has no other issues but flipping his Z).


    In general….


    dyslexia is problems with reading and spelling

    dysgraphia is problems with writing

    dyscalcula is problems with math

    dysnomia is problems with speaking orally


    These things generally come in a combination… and often “dyslexia” is used to describe all of them as long as reading or spelling is a problem.


    Oh, thanks for clarifying suzukimom! I didn’t even know about all of these. Thanks for sharing that pin as well. Very interesting and helpful.


    Hi Heather, 

    I usually point people to Susan Barton’s website:

    She has great videos on the homepage that explain dyslexia.  You can also find info under the “What is dyslexia” tab.  When I came upon her site years ago it was as if she were describing my daughter exactly.  It was a relief to finally know what we were dealing with after years of trying to figure it out.  Hope that helps!


    Thank you for all of your responses!  

    Suzukimom, I was relieved after researching when I began to be assured that he was not dyslexic, but alarmed when I read about the dyscalculia.  I think this may be him…in fact, I think it’s what’s been wrong with me for all of these years too!  I have several classic traits of dyscalculia and poor buddy may have inherited it from me.  I am going to research it further, but I wanted to thank you all for the info!

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