What is dyslexia?

Experience what it’s like to have dyslexia

Dyslexia guides for families

understanding dyslexia 7-11
Understanding Dyslexia 7-11 years old
understanding dyslexia 11-16
Understanding Dyslexia 11-16 years old


Click here for Indications of Dyslexia

Click here for help line common questions asked

Click here if you think you might be dyslexic to answer a quick questionnaire.

What is dyslexia? – Kelli Sandman-Hurley

What is dyslexia

Source: The British Dyslexia Association


QuoteDyslexia, often known as the ‘hidden disability’, affects up to 2.9 million workers in the UK.  It has been suggested that up to 10% of the population (or even more) show some signs of dyslexia.  It is not a disease to be cured; nor do people “grow out” of it.  Early recognition and appropriate intervention can help.  Individuals will experience difficulties throughout their lives and the majority learn to develop strategies to enable them to cope most of the time, although in stress situations all the original problems can recur.

Dyslexia as a disability

Dyslexia has been recognised as a disability under The Equality Act (2010).  Schools have a duty under disability legislation (SENDA 2001, Disability Discrimination Act 2005, Equality Act 2010)) to ensure that pupils with disabilities are not treated unfavourably and are offered reasonable support.   Specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia are recognised difficulties under disability legislation.

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. It can affect anyone regardless of background.  Although the disability varies from person to person, common characteristics among people with dyslexia are difficulty with spelling, phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds) and/or rapid visual-verbal reasoning. Many achieve academically and go on to further and higher education. Some have special talents, e.g. in art, architecture, or engineering.

There is a need for support as research has shown that if not correctly and expertly helped a young person with dyslexia can have low self-esteem, with an increased risk of becoming a problem pupil or school phobic.  Furthermore, children with dyslexia are at greater risk of being bullied and teased by their peers and have feelings of exclusion.  This feeling of isolation can continue into adulthood and have far-reaching consequences.

Indications of Dyslexia

A family history of dyslexia and reading difficulties can be a strong indicator.  If you recogonise several of the following indications, further investigation should be made but there may be other reasons. This is not a definitive checklist.

Does this sound like you?

▪   Difficulty learning nursery rhymes and rhyming words, e.g. ‘cat, mat, sat’.
▪   Later than expected speech development.
▪   Enjoyed being read to but showed no interest in letters or words.
▪   Often accused of not listening or paying attention.
▪   Excessive tripping, bumping into things and falling over.
▪   Difficulty with catching, kicking or throwing a ball; with hopping and/or skipping.
▪   Difficulty with clapping a simple rhythm.
▪   Had particular difficulty with reading and spelling.
▪   Puts letters and figures the wrong way round.
▪   Had difficulty remembering tables, alphabet, formulae etc.
▪   Leaves letters out of words or puts them in the wrong order.
▪   Still occasionally confuses ‘b’ and ‘d’ and words such as ‘no/on’.
▪   Still needs to use fingers or marks on paper to make simple calculations.
▪   Poor concentration.
▪   Has problems understanding what he/she has read.
▪   Takes longer than average to do written work.
▪   Problems processing language at speed.
▪   Has difficulty with tying shoe laces, tie, dressing.
▪   Has difficulty telling left from right, order of days of the week, months of the year etc.
▪   Has a poor sense of direction and still confuses left and right.
▪   Lacks confidence and has a poor self image.

Where to find more information

To find out more please visit the BDA website to find out more information and visit their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section at www.bdadyslexia.org.uk.

DysTalk for teachers and parents who are looking for information on how to optimise a child’s learning. Their website features talks on various topics by leading experts.  Visit www.dystalk.com

From our help line common questions asked:

I think my child may be dyslexic, but the school doesn’t seem to be interested.

Ask the school secretary for a copy of the school’s SEN policy. You would then be advised to make an appointment to see the Special Needs Co-ordinator (known as the SENCO) to discuss your concerns.

I feel that mainstream schooling is not able to offer my severely dyslexic child an appropriate education. Are there specialist schools for dyslexic children?

Specialist independent schools supporting dyslexic pupils can be found on http://www.crested.org.uk

I have recently been diagnosed with dyslexia. Where can I get information?

Visit the BDA Online Shop offers a wide range of books on dyslexia. www.bdadyslexia.org.uk

I have heard that coloured overlays can help. How does this work?

Around 35-40% of people with dyslexia suffer with a visual stress difficulty where text appears to move around or look distorted in some way. Coloured filters, either as overlays or glasses with coloured tinted lenses have been found to helpful. Coloured filters can help to make the text visually clearer and more comfortable to see, and therefore can aid the learning process, but they will not teach a child to read.  Crossbow Reading Rulers can be used as a first step.

What help can a dyslexic student be offered for tests and exams?

Accommodations in tests and exams can be put in place to mitigate dyslexic difficulties and create a more level playing field. Extra time is usual (+25%) and any other arrangements as recommended by an appropriate qualified professional. Arrangements that are put in place for normal school work, e.g. using a computer, can be implemented for tests and exams.

Where can I find out about the best way to teach phonics?

There is a helpful website, http://www.phonicbooks.co.uk This includes a video of the correct way to say individual letter sounds.

For information on synthetic phonics, see http://www.syntheticphonics.net/