Words that Are Hard for Dyslexics to Read and Spell

Dyslexic children struggle to read, write and spell new words. Yet some words can be more challenging than others. A dyslexic child may struggle to spell the same words, no matter how many times they learn them.

Some days they may be able to spell a word and the next day not be able to spell it. A common trait is for a dyslexic child to spell the same words wrong in many different ways.

This can be one of the reasons why dyslexic children can wrongly be labelled lazy or that they are not trying. Yet dyslexia is a learning difficulty. So dyslexic children would benefit from extra support to learn how to read and write.  

Hard words for dyslexics to read

Learning new words, is a challenge for dyslexic children. It is suggested that dyslexic children are unable to sound out words when reading them. Unable to use phonics to break down words into sounds and letters.

So instead they learn to recognise words by the shape of the word, not by actually reading letters in the words. This can mean it takes longer to learn how to read and write words. The types of words dyslexic children struggle to read are below:

Irregular spellings (Tricky Words) that don't follow typical pronunciation rules. For example:

  • the  
  • she
  • me
  • said
  • here
  • they
  • go
  • live
  • give
  • little
  • down
  • what

Homophones words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. For example:

  • Hole - Whole
  • Rain - Reign
  • Witch - Which
  • There - Their
  • Real - Reel
  • Soul - Sole
  • Tale - Tail
  • Waist - Waste

Multi-syllabic and long, making them harder to break down into sounds. For example:

  • Window
  • Sunny
  • Dinosaur
  • zookeeper
  • Spaghetti
  • Excitement
  • Marvellous

Confusable letters that look similar. For Example:

  • Affect - Effect
  • Further - Father
  • Insure - Ensure
  • Accept - Expect
  • Ensure - Insure
  • Advise - Advice

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Hard Sentences for Dyslexics to Read

Children with dyslexia often struggle to read long sentences and large blocks of text.

Below is a list of hard things for dyslexics to read. This includes examples of hard sentences for dyslexics to read:

  • Long and complicated sentences.
  • Words made up of many syllables, with irregular spellings
  • Sentences using complicated words or tense they are not familiar with. Such as speaking in the past or future.
  • Certain fonts or fonts with unusual spacing that can be hard to read.
  • Poorly written sentences, with large chunks of text. Long paragraphs without breaks or headings.
  • Writing on top of images, or clutters writing can be hard to read. For example a poster printed with lots of different coloured and sized writing.
  • Flashing, scrolling writing can be harder to read quickly.
  • Sentences with homophones or homonyms. Words that spelt differently to how they sound. Such as "their" and "there".
  • Large chunks of text without images and diagrams to help explain context.
  • Information that is disorganised, jumps from one topic to the next without explanation.

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Why do dyslexic children struggle to spell?

Dyslexic children struggle with memory and sequence. This means they may struggle to remember what letters are in a word and in which order the words should go.

Unable to sound out the words, they are relying on remembering the correct spelling for words. So they may struggle especially to spell new and very long words.

What are hard words for dyslexics to spell?

Words that are hard for dyslexics to spell. Are often longer words, with spellings that a child may struggle to understand.

Below is a list of the most commonly misspelt words. These maybe hard words to spell for dyslexics.

Commonly Misspelt words

  • Accommodate
  • Colonel
  • Conscience
  • Diarrhoea
  • Embarrass
  • Entrepreneur
  • Guarantee
  • Handkerchief
  • Miscellaneous
  • Nauseous
  • Occurrence
  • Parallel
  • Rhythm
  • Thermometer
  • Vacuum

Hardest Words for Dyslexics to Spell

The list below is a list of some of the hardest words for dyslexics to spell. These words would be hard for anybody to read, write and spell.

Yet for a dyslexic child that is unable to sound out words. That relies on being able to remember all the letters in the right order, long words can be a real challenge.

Words that are hard for dyslexics to spell

  • Accommodation
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Appraisal
  • Archaeology
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Exaggeration
  • Hyperventilation
  • Paradoxical
  • Precipitous
  • Pseudonym
  • Orthography
  • Psychosomatic

Help a Dyslexic Child to Read, Write & Spell

If your dyslexic child is struggling to write and spell hard words. Take them back to basics, before attempting to learn the common misspelt words above.

Start by relearning basic 2, 3, 4 letter words, using the word lists below:

  • Ticking off the words the child already knows can be a great confidence boost.
  • Once they have the basics move to learning the 100 common words.
  • If the child can read all these words they will be able to read 50% of most books.
  • Remember to focus on getting the basics right first. It is more important that a dyslexic child has a good foundation in reading, writing and spelling.
  • Ensuring the child is able to read, write and spell. Basic 3, 4, 5 letter words. To ensure the child knows enough to read most book and get their ideas down on paper.
  • For spelling longer words, use assistive technology instead. Such as spell checker and read aloud text software.

Word Lists for Primary School Age Children

The activities in the "Teaching Tool" box, include 10 min activities to help a dyslexic child. Learn to read, write and spell words. The activities can be used to learn the word lists below, that includes a list of tricky words.

Use the activities in the "Teaching Tool" box, to help them learn the words in dyslexic friendly way. Also see "Twinkl" for printable word lists and flashcards.

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