"Borrowed from the Greek, the word 'dyslexia' literally means 'difficulty with words or language'"

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 Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that specifically impairs the individual's ability to read, write and spell. Borrowed from the Greek, the word 'dyslexia' literally means 'difficulty with words or language'.

 The causes of dyslexia are not completely understood, but are thought to originate within the language areas of the brain. Dyslexia affects the ways in which a person's brain processes units of phonic sound, matches sounds to written symbols and the way sounds are remembered and also synthesized with other sounds. It is thought that in some families dyslexia is inherited, although it can also occur as a result of accident or injury to the brain. Some children with dyslexia seem to have related difficulties with sequencing, eg, learning the months of the year, with ordering numbers and with organizing personal belongings.

 It is thought that 10% of the school population have dyslexia, but that only 4% of this number will be severely affected by the disorder to the extent of needing specialist support with schooling. With good teaching, most dyslexic children will progress, and most importantly, develop healthy self-esteem.  Going into adulthood, dyslexics will still need to work harder than others to correct spelling and to manage the adverse affects of their condition. Many will use self-help strategies at work; using voice mail to leave messages as an alternative to email; prioritizing tasks using a planner, and, naturally will use the spell and grammar checker function of the computer. Many famous dyslexics have been of very high intelligence; eg, Albert Einstein, and there is evidence that a disproportionately high number of  wealthy entrepreneurs are in fact dyslexic.

 It is important that reading and writing difficulties are identified at an early age. Dyslexia may be suspected when a child who otherwise has no learning difficulties, and who enjoys being read to, seems to find reading, writing and spelling a great struggle. There will be no urgent rush to label a child with what is classed as a specific learning difficulty, and teachers will wish to monitor the situation and to put in place plenty of structured phonics teaching, perhaps on a small group or one to one basis. However, if after rigorous and systematic phonics instruction, the child is still struggling with reading and writing, a decision may be made by the school's Special Educational Needs Coordinator to involve one of the outside agencies which help schools to address the needs of children who are experiencing significant barriers to learning. Further specialized investigation may then take place.

 There is no definitive check list, as such, but there are certain indicators that a child may need to be investigated for dyslexia.

In the early primary school years, signs might include:

  • Difficulty learning the alphabet
  • Difficulty associating the phonic sound with the letter symbol which represents it
  • Difficulty segmenting words into individual sounds
  • Difficulty learning to decode written words
  • Difficulty identifying rhyming words

In Key Stage 2, the signs of dyslexia may include:

  • Slow and inaccurate reading
  • Reading in the present tense although the text is written in the past tense
  • Guessing at words instead of sounding them out
  • Difficulty synthesizing the single sounds into the correct word
  • Confusing the order of the phonemes in a word
  • Omitting prefixes and suffixes when reading
  • Finding it almost impossible to learn spellings

It must be emphasized that the best person to contact about your child's learning is your child's teacher. Only professional investigation can result in a diagnosis of dyslexia.