What is dyslexia?

In an influential review carried out by Sir Jim Rose (2009), dyslexia was defined as: 

- Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. 

- Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed. 

- Dyslexia occurs across a range of intellectual abilities. It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points.


-Co-occurring difficulties can be seen in aspects of language, motor coordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia. 

- A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well-founded intervention. 

What are the indicators of Dyslexia?

The nature of difficulties can vary greatly from person to person. Each individual with dyslexia will have their own unique pattern of strengths and challenges. The most common indicators of dyslexia are outlined below. 

Pre-school children

-  Delayed speech development

- Problems with pronunciation of longer words and mixing up phrases e.g. 'beddy tear' instead of 'teddy bear'   

- Difficulties learning nursery rhymes and identifying rhyming words.

- Problems with motor coordination such as frequently bumping into things or dropping things.

- There may be difficulties with throwing and catching a ball or hopping and skipping. 

- Difficulties with dressing and putting shoes on the right feet. 

Primary aged children 

Difficulties usually become more apparent once a child starts school and can include :

- problems learning letter sounds and names

- persistent difficulties with reading and spelling

- difficulties answering questions about what he/she has read 

- reversal of letters and numbers e.g. b and d and 6 and 9 

- problems following verbal instructions

- organisational issues

- verbal ability is stronger than written ability 

- slow reading and writing speed

-difficulties learning sequences such as days of the week, months of the year and the alphabet sequence

- issues with concentration

- low self-esteem and confidence

-confusion with left and right and a poor sense of direction 

Secondary aged children and adults

In addition to the indicators outlined above, other common indicators in older children and adults are:   

- persisting difficulties with reading and spelling although the nature of the difficulties often change as the individual gets older

- difficulties planning and writing essays, reports etc. 

- written work might show errors in punctuation, grammar and spelling although the ideas and subject knowledge might be good

- writing speed is likely to be slow

- organisation and time keeping issues - struggles to meet deadlines 

- problems maintaining concentration and attention 

- difficulties working under time pressure. 

- difficulties taking notes or copying 

 Dyslexia in the news         

It is important to remember that people with Dyslexia will also have many strengths, as outlined in this motivational talk by Dr Rosa Kwok (The Gift of the Dyslexia Mind) 



An interesting article on BBC Capital about dyslexia in the workplace. 




If you would like to find out more about dyslexia and the assessment process, then please get in touch for a friendly and informal chat.