what is dyslexia?


Recent research has proved that dyslexia is a difference in the way the brain works:

  • Dyslexic people think differently.
  • Dyslexia is a learning difficulty, that mainly affects reading and writing skills. It can have a significant impact during education, work and everyday life. Every person’s experience of dyslexia is unique and it can range from mild to severe. It can also occur alongside other learning difficulties. Dyslexia usually runs in families and it is life-long. However, strategies can be successfully learnt to overcome the difficulties it causes. It is important to remember that there are positives to thinking differently. Many dyslexic people have strengths in areas such as the creative and artistic fields, engineering and science. Many are successful entrepreneurs too!

Remember that:

  • Many young children will display these behaviours and they are not in themselves, indicators of a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia; they are clues rather than clear evidence.
  • No child will have all the indicators.
  • Many children will have several of the indicators.
  • Some indicators are more common than others.
  • The number of indicators observed in a child does not indicate how severe a child’s dyslexia is.
  • Other factors such as the frequency and severity of indicators as well as background information need to be considered too.
  • If you think that your child may have dyslexia, you should discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher or the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator.

Indicators of dyslexia (Early Years)

  • Has difficulty with rhyming and in maintaining rhythm.
  • Finds it hard to recall the right word, e.g. names of colours, friends etc
  • Finds it hard to learn new vocabulary
  • Finds it hard to pronounce some especially multi-syllabic words.
  • Difficulty paying attention, sitting still, listening to stories
  • Likes listening to stories but finds it hard to tell or retell a story in the correct sequence.
  • Has difficulty in acquiring the foundations of literacy, e.g. left to right directionality of writing, knowing what a letter, word, sentence is.
  • Has difficulty in learning to sing or recite the alphabet, numbers, colours and shapes.
  • Has difficulty in learning to write and spell his/her name.
  • Is later than other children of the same age in learning to speak
  • Makes spoonerisms, e.g. says ‘par cark’ for ‘car park’
  • Has trouble in following multi-part instructions or routines– e.g. go upstairs and get your shoes..
  • Poor auditory discrimination
  • Fine motor skills are less developed than other children of the same age – e.g. using scissor, holding a pen, doing up buttons
  • Gross motor skills are less developed than other children of the same age – e.g. hopping, riding a bik, catching a ball.
  • Often falls over or is ‘clumsy’
  • Has obvious ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days for no apparent reason.

Indicators of dyslexia (Primary)


  • Slow speed of processing: spoken and/or written language.
  • Finds it hard to follow instructions.
  • Poor concentration.


  • Finds it hard to make links between names and sounds of letters.
  • Finds it hard to hear sounds in words and to put the sounds together.
  • Has difficulty in saying multisyllabic words – confuses parts of them, e.g. ‘emeny’ for ‘enemy’.
  • Forgets words.
  • Writing
    • Writing does not reflect oral ability.
    • Has good ideas but cannot get them down on paper.
    • Is reluctant to write. 
    • Confuses similar looking letters and words, e.g. b/d, m/w ‘was’ for ‘saw’.
    • Letter reversals and incorrectly formed letters.
    • Untidy handwriting often with several attempts at words and many crossings out.
    • Poor pencil grip and/or writes slowly.
    • Poorly set out work on the page, e.g does not stay by the margin.
    • Inappropriate spelling for age and general ability, e.g. often spelling the same word differently in one piece of writing, letter omissions/additions/transpositions, bizarre spellings.
    • Writing often does not make sense.


    • Has difficulty in reading text aloud or silently.
    • Reading achievement is below expectation for age group.
    • Confuses letter sequences in words, e.g. says ‘tired’ for ‘tried’.
    • Finds it difficult to blend letters together.
    • Finds it hard to identify syllables in words.
    • Unable to consistently identify familiar words.
    • Little expression or intonation when reading.
    • Poor comprehension of what they have read.
    • Listening comprehension is better than reading comprehension.
    • Finds it hard to identify the most important points from a passage.
    • Reading lacks fluency and sounds stilted.
    • Misses out words when reading, or adds in extra words.


      • Confusion with place value e.g. units, tens, hundreds.
      • Confuses maths symbols, e.g + and x signs.
      • Finds maths word problems hard.
      • Unable to remember sequences by rote such as times tables and number sequences. 


  • Difficulty in learning to tell the time – analogue and digital.
  • Poor time management. 
  • Poor planning and organisational skills.
  • Difficulty with the concepts – yesterday, today, tomorrow
  • Difficulty in remembering what day or month it is.
  • Unable to remember the months of the year or names of the seasons.
  • Difficulty in remembering own telephone number or birthday.

Skills and Communication

  • Poor fine motor skills, affecting pencil control and writing speed. 
  • Lacks understanding of other people’s body language and facial expressions.
  • Confuses left and right.
  • No strong hand preference – ambidextrous.
  • Has ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days for no apparent reason.


Avoids work, e.g looking for books, tidying up, going to the toilet.

Often forgets homework.

Lacks self confidence or has low self-esteem

Appears to daydream.

Finds it hard to focus.

Is the class joker or is disruptive or withdrawn. 

Is often exhausted after school.


Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. It’s a specific learning difficulty, which means it causes problems with certain abilities used for learning, such as reading and writing. Unlike a learning disability, intelligence isn’t affected.

Yes, dyslexia is “genetic.” And if you have one child with dyslexia, your other children are more likely to have it. Looking for signs of early reading problems can allow you to intervene as soon as possible. Having good reading instruction makes a big difference in reading success.

Dyslexia can be a disability under the Equality Act 2010. A disability under the Equality Act 2010 is a physical or mental impairment that affects a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

The exact cause of dyslexia is unknown, but it often appears to run in families. It’s thought certain genes inherited from your parents may act together in a way that affects how some parts of the brain develop during early life.

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