Definition of Dyslexia

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 the 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 may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, 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.

Sir Jim Rose CBE
June 2009

Dyslexia checklist

This checklist provides an overview of the types of difficulties a dyslexic person may have at different ages. It is not exhaustive and it is not intended as a screening tool or diagnostic assessment/test.

Ages seven to 11:

  • seems bright in some ways but unexpectedly struggles in others
  • other members of the family have similar difficulties
  • has difficulties carrying out three instructions in sequence
  • struggles to learn sequences such as days of the week or the alphabet
  • is a slow reader or makes unexpected errors when reading aloud
  • often reads a word, then fails to recognise it further down the page
  • struggles to remember what has been read
  • puts letters and numbers the wrong way: for example, 15 for 51, b for d or “was” for “saw”
  • has poor handwriting and/or struggles to hold the pen/pencil correctly and/or learn cursive writing
  • spells a word in several different ways
  • appears to have poor concentration
  • struggles with mental arithmetic or learning times tables
  • seems to struggle with maths and/or understanding the terminology in maths: for example, knowing when to add, subtract or multiply
  • has difficulties understanding time and tense
  • confuses left and right
  • can answer questions orally but has difficulties writing the answers down
  • has trouble learning nursery rhymes or songs
  • struggles with phonics and learning the letter to sound rules
  • seems to get frustrated or suffers unduly with stress and/or low self-esteem
  • struggles to copy information down when reading from the board
  • needs an unexpected amount of support with homework and struggles to get it done on time
  • is excessively tired after a day at school.

Ages 12 to adult:

Many older children and adults will remember having similar difficulties to those listed above and some may still apply into adulthood, but some additional issues for older children through to adults might include:

  • difficulties taking notes
  • difficulties planning and writing essays, letters or reports
  • difficulties reading and understanding new terminology
  • quality of work is erratic
  • difficulties revising for examinations
  • struggles to communicate knowledge and understanding in exams
  • feels that the effort put in does not reflect performance or results
  • forgets names and factual information, even when familiar
  • struggles to remember things such as a personal PIN or telephone number
  • struggles to meet deadlines
  • struggles with personal organisation (finances/household, arrives at lessons with the wrong books, forgets appointments)difficulties filling in forms or writing cheques
  • only reads when necessary and never for pleasure
  • develops work avoidance tactics to disguise difficulties and/or worries about being promoted/taking professional qualifications
  • difficulties become exacerbated when under pressure of time.

Not everyone who is dyslexic will relate to the above and one size does not fit all; dyslexia can affect different individuals differently. Dyslexia does not affect intelligence and it can affect anyone of any age and background. Most importantly, dyslexia need not and should not be a barrier to success; with the correct support, many of these difficulties can be overcome.