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Letter & Number Reversals

dyslexia reversals chair example

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", therefore it must be the same letter.

The term "letter reversals" is usually thought of as flipping a letter vertically (b-d), however, often letters can be flipped horizontally as well, such as 'b' and 'p'. In addition, we are not limited to letters, numbers are also commonly flipped, such as '6' and '9'.


b-d, p-q, 6-9


* Reversals in children under 8 years old are normal. However, by third grade, this should be a thing of the past. At this point, if the student is not reading at grade level and reversing letters and/or numbers, you should have the child tested for dyslexia. For a professional diagnosis, a neuropsychologist is recommended.

What to do about letter/number reversals?

The main way to combat reversals is to teach the child that direction does matter, and 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. Important note: do not create a problem where there isn't one, since you can inadvertently create confusion with other letters or numbers by simply bringing attention to it.


Interactive Approach to Helping With Letter & Number Reversals

For an interactive approach, we created a free online reversal app, which contains many activities for the commonly reversed letters, as well as other letters and numbers. This application should play on most devices and is free for anyone to use. Click on an image below to play!

software for dyslexia letter reversals software for letter/number reversals games for letter reversals b d help for refersals number reversal help dyslexia reversals help


If you are on an Apple Device and not getting sound, Click here to watch a video how to get sound.



Multisensory Ideas for Letter and Number Reversals

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 on the image below for the b-d printable for this exercise.

b-d reversal printable

Another idea is to 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



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



You can create visual images that will help reinforce direction of the problemed 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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