What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a Specific Learning Difficulty which affects at least 10% of the population. Dyslexia affects people of all ages and all abilities.
The British Psychological Society wrote the following definition for dyslexia in 1999:
“…when accurate and fluent word reading and/or spelling develops very incompletely or with great difficulty. This focuses on literacy learning at the ‘word level’ and implies that the problem is severe and persistent despite appropriate learning opportunities”
What this means is that people can be considered to be dyslexic if they have had a good education but still really struggle with reading words and spelling.
When doing a diagnostic assessment of dyslexia, most assessors will look for a range of indicators in a person’s test results as well as using this definition.
Dyslexia is usually diagnosed when someone has phonological processing difficulties, difficulties with reading and/or spelling at word level, and working memory or verbal memory difficulties.
The most common symptoms of dyslexia are difficulties with reading and spelling words, however dyslexia is far more complex than this, and can affect different people in a variety of ways.
What are the symptoms of dyslexia?
The following is a list of common signs of dyslexia. If someone has some or all of these symptoms they may have dyslexia.
- Dislikes reading out loud
- Reads very slowly
- Doesn’t read for pleasure
- Confuses little words, or similar words (was/saw, it/in, for/of)
- Misses out words when reading
- Loses place when reading
- Needs to sound out words
- Doesn’t use expression when reading
- Has good ideas but can’t get them down on paper
- Mixes up letters and numbers – p/q, b/d, 6/9
- Problems copying from the board
- Slow at writing
- Bizarre spellings
- Poor handwriting
- Can’t put things in order
- Struggles with left and right
- Difficulty telling the time
- Difficulty learning times tables
- Disorganised and forgetful
- Poor self-esteem
What can be done about dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a Specific Learning Difficulty, and it can’t be cured as such. However lots of people with dyslexia learn to overcome many of their difficulties and with the right kind of teaching and support the reading and writing difficulties associated with dyslexia can often be minimised.
Often people with dyslexia have other talents, such as being good at art or sports. It is really important to help children develop their strengths as well as working on their Literacy skills.
An important step towards overcoming difficulties caused by dyslexia can be to get either a full diagnostic assessment or a shorter assessment done. This assessment will show a person’s areas of strength as well as their areas of difficulty. It can help to set targets for a programme of work and can help teachers to understand what approaches might help children in a classroom.