What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling.

Intelligence is not affected, instead it is a "specific learning difficulty". It means that it causes problems with certain abilities used for learning, such as reading and writing. It is not a 'learning disability'. A learning disability affects the way a person learns new things in any area of life, not just at school. Check the learning disability page to find out how a learning disability can affect someone, and where you can find support.

It's estimated that up to 1 in every 10 to 20 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia.

Dyslexia is lifelong problem that can present challenges on a daily basis, but support is available to improve reading and writing skills and help those with the problem be successful at school and work.

Famous Dyslexics
If you are dyslexic, you are in very good company.
Some of the biggest names in movies, music, art, science and sports are people who struggled in school with learning and attention issues. Here are a number of the celebrities who found their passion and overcame their challenges.
Click on the image to start slide-show.

And the list goes on:

Jim Carrey, Albert Einstein, Sally Gardner, John Lennon, Jamie Oliver, Theo Paphitis, Pablo Picasso, Guy Ritchie, Chris Robshaw - to name just a few ...

What do you think of when you hear the word dyslexia? Quite often when people hear the word they think of only reading, writing, spelling, and math problems a child is having in school. Sometimes people think of letters being written the wrong way round or being a slow learner or even the  fact that the person is disabled in some way. Dyslexia is not a learning disability.

There is so much more to dyslexia than just having problems with reading, writing and spelling.

Is there a positive side to dyslexia? Yes I think there is. You only have to look at the many, many famous people that are known to have dyslexia.

Not every dyslexic is going to be famous or a genius, but it is good to know that a dyslexcs mind works in exactly the same way as the minds of great geniuses.

Having a problem with reading and writing doesn't make a person dumb or stupid.

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that can impact reading, writing, and spelling. People with dyslexia struggle to match up letters with their sounds. Typical learners use the temporal-occipital lobe to read. Individuals with dyslexia use different neural pathways and different areas of the brain to read. As a result, reading is often slow and inaccurate.

Dyslexics don’t all develop the same gifts, but they do have certain mental functions in common. Here are the basic abilities all dyslexics share:

They can utilize the brain’s ability to alter and create perceptions (the primary ability).
They are highly aware of the environment.
They are more curious than average.
They think mainly in pictures instead of words.
They are highly intuitive and insightful.
They think and perceive multi-dimensionally (using all the senses).
They can experience thought as reality.
They have vivid imaginations.
These eight basic abilities, if not suppressed, invalidated or destroyed by parents or the educational process, will result in two characteristics: higher than normal intelligence, and extraordinary creative abilities. From these the true gift of dyslexia can emerge — the gift of mastery. (Ronald D. Davis © 1994. Excerpted from Chapter 1 of The Gift of Dyslexia.)

Overview:

It is often not apparent until a child starts school that they may be dyslexic. This is when the focus starts on learning to read and write.

In a Reception class a person with dyslexia may:

  • Have delayed speech development or speech problems - such as not being able to pronounce long words properly or jumbling up phrases

  • Find it difficult to express themselves

  • Have little understanding of rhyming words

  • Difficulty in learning the letters of the alphabet

  • Find learning to read and write very difficult

  • They may confuse the order of letters in words

  • They may put some letters the wrong way round no matter how many times it is corrected

  • Find it hard to learn spellings

  • Have a fair understanding of information when it is told but have difficulty with information that is written down

  • They may find it hard to carry out a sequence of directions or instructions

  • They may struggle with planning and organisation

However, a young person with dyslexia might show very good problem solving skills and be very creative.
 

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Overview:

From 5 - 12

During lower and upper primary a child might be having problems with keeping up with their peers. They may;

  • Have difficulty in carrying out a sequence of instructions

  • Struggle to learn sequences like days of the week or months of the year

  • Have slow writing speeds

  • Find it difficult to copy from the board or from the page

  • Poor handwriting

  • Take longer than others to complete work

  • Problems learning names and sounds of letters

  • Spelling unpredictable and inconsistent

  • Put letters or figures the wrong way round

  • Have visual disturbances when reading (letters moving around the page)

  • Answer questions very well verbally but have problems writing down the answer

  • Confuse the ordering of letters in words

  • Read slowly or making errors when reading aloud

  • Have poor phonological awareness and word attack skills

  • Have poor organisation skills

Overview:

Teenagers and adults

As well as the problems mentioned above, the symptoms of dyslexia in older children and adults can include;

  • Poorly organised written work that lacks expression

  • Difficulty planning and writing essays, letters or reports

  • Difficulty in revising for exams

  • Trying to avoid reading and writing whenever possible

  • Difficulty in taking notes or copying

  • Poor spelling

  • Struggling to remember things such as PIN or telephone numbers

  • Struggling to meet deadlines

Getting help
The first thing you should do if you are worried that your child may have dyslexia is to speak to their teacher or arrange to have a meeting with the special needs coordinator (SENCO). If they feel that there may be a valid concern they may be able to offer additional support if necessary. The school may want to consider requesting a more in-depth assessment from a specialist dyslexia teacher or an educational psychologist.

This can be arranged through the school.

If you want to request a private assessment you can contact an educational psychologist directly -  You can find a directory of chartered psychologists on the British Psychological Society's website
or a voluntary organisation that can arrange an assessment, such as a local dyslexia association.
Adults who wish to be assessed for dyslexia should contact a local or national dyslexia association - See the British Dyslexia Association Directory link below.

Phonological Awareness
The ability to recognise that words are made up of smaller units of sound (phonemes)
A child with poor phonological awareness may not be able to correctly answer these questions;
  • What sounds do you think make up the word 'hot' and are these different from 'hat'?
  • What word would you have if you changed the 'p' sound in 'pot' to a 'h' sound?
  • How many words can you think of that rhyme with the word 'cat'?
Word Attack Skills
YOung children with dyslexia can also have problems with 'word attack' skills.
This is the ability to make sense of unfamiliar words by looking for smaller words they have previously learnt.
 18 things you need to know now!
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Activities To Do At Home...

Dyslexics think in pictures, even though they may struggle with language and may even struggle with sequencing. They can have brilliant visual-spatial abilities but might need some extra help developing reading and literacy skills.
~To develop visual - tactile connections then you might try;
  • Use play-dough to form letters to help correct reversal
  • Write note cards - Read aloud as you write them out. The note card gives your child something to hold while their reading the word
  • Sand trays (you don't have to use just sand - lentils, flour or shaving cream will work very well) to write out letters and words. Very tactile
  • Hands-On Museum Visits – While we want all children to develop strong literacy skills, not all learning comes from the written word. Hands-on museums provide hands-on learning experiences and interactive activities that visual children thrive on.
Make directions clear. Kids with dyslexia often can’t remember multi-step or complex directions.  
Speak briefly and clearly, and always provide written directions. 
Get them interacting! 
Build in review. To help them retain information, check for mastery before jumping into a new topic.
Use audiobooks. You can find a lot of Audiobooks online. See if you can find a book that will allow your child to access the curriculum
Read aloud to your child. This is the perfect way to develop vocabulary. Even better, you can demonstrate your love of books.
Help them with their handwriting. There are plenty of handwriting books in the shops.
Help them with their spellings. Use magnetic letters so that they can move the letters around.
Help them learn their math facts. Use blocks and counters so that they can visualise their number problems
Some On-Line games

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