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About Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a neurological difference and can have a significant impact during education, in the workplace and in everyday life. As each person is unique, every individual will have a different experience with dyslexia. It can range from mild to severe, and it can co-occur with other learning differences. It usually runs in families and is a life-long condition. It is a genetic condition, and the most recent research suggest that it changes the way in which the brain functions, including the way certain brain activities are carried out. These changes are responsible for the difficulties (and some strengths), that those with dyslexia and related conditions may experience.

What is Dyslexia?


Dyslexia is actually one condition amongst a group, which are known to co-exist; it is not that common to meet an individual who is purely dyslexic, they are likely to have some traits of dyslexia but also may have some aspects of these other related conditions. It is now commonly accepted, by academics in the field, that dyslexia is part of a spectrum of neuro-diverse difficulties which co-occur with each other.

Dyslexia – Dyspraxia – Dyscalculia – Dysgraphia – A.D.D/A.D.H.D. – Specific Language Impairment (SLI) – Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) SpLD can also co-occur with difficulties on the autistic spectrum such as Asperger Syndrome. They are neurological, usually run in families and occur independently of intelligence.

Often, dyslexia is thought of as being not able to spell or read properly. Children can experience a very bad time at school with other children thinking and, in some cases, saying they are “thick”. Both these views are incorrect. Dyslexia is a genetic condition which creates differences in the way we take in, store and use information. These differences in how the brain functions can produce particular strengths such as thinking outside the box. It can also mean though, that children can have difficulty with basic skills in reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic because they are not being taught the way they can learn. If we provide appropriate teaching, then most dyslexic children can learn to read and write and do sums as well as anyone else. The key thing to do is to identify dyslexia and then work out what the child’s key strengths are and key difficulties are and how to help them.

The overall term now used for dyslexia is “Neurodiverse Specific Learning Difficulty” (SpLD) and that’s quite useful as it indicates that dyslexia is responsible for some very “specific” difficulties in learning. Outside these specific difficulties is often a very able person with particular strengths.

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

Dyslexia is constitutional in origin, that is it is part of one’s makeup, and independent of social or economic or language backgrounds. It occurs despite normal intellectual ability and teaching. Some people only have very mild symptoms, whilst others are severely dyslexic. Some dyslexic individuals have very well-developed creative skills and interpersonal skills, others have strong oral skills. Some are not exceptional in any way but all have strengths. The key is to develop those strengths and mitigate any weaknesses.

Signs of Dyslexia



Signs of dyslexia usually become more obvious when children start school and begin to focus more on learning how to read and write. Some signs of dyslexia in children aged 5 to 12 are:

  • problems learning the names and sounds of letters
  • spelling that is unpredictable and inconsistent
  • putting letters and figures the wrong way round (such as writing “6” instead of “9”, or “b” instead of “d”)
  • confusing the order of letters in words
  • reading slowly or making errors when reading aloud
  • visual disturbances when reading (for example, a child may describe letters and words as seeming to move around or appear blurred)
  • answering questions well orally, but having difficulty writing the answer down
  • difficulty carrying out a sequence of directions
  • struggling to learn sequences, such as days of the week or the alphabet
  • slow writing speed
  • poor handwriting
  • problems copying written language and taking longer than normal to complete written work

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 (for example, even though they may be very knowledgeable about a certain subject, they may have problems expressing that knowledge in writing)
  • difficulty planning and writing essays, letters or reports
  • difficulties revising for examinations
  • trying to avoid reading and writing whenever possible
  • difficulty taking notes or copying
  • poor spelling
  • struggling to remember things such as a PIN or telephone number
  • struggling to meet deadlines

Getting help

If you’re concerned about your child’s progress with reading and writing, first talk to their teacher. If you or your child’s teacher has an ongoing concern, do consider having their vision and hearing checked to see if there are any underlying problems. An assessment by a specialist teacher could then be carried out and different teaching methods may need to be tried. More information can be found on the BDA website.

Don’t hesitate to contact our Helpliners if you have any questions or concerns.

What we do

General Support & Helpline

We operate a helpline service run by volunteers. Please be considerate when calling, some helpliners are very busy and some have full time jobs but give what time they can to help take phone calls.

Helpline: 01604 328 075
Office & Admin: 01327 703 626

Getting Help - Parents & Education

If you are concerned about your child’s progress with their education at school, you should contact their teacher or the school’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) to discuss your concerns and the appropriate support to put in place. (it may be worth having their vision and hearing checked to see if there are any underlying problems)
Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support is the support that a school or college should put in place for a child/ young person with SEN. A pupil does not need to have an official diagnosis of a learning difficulty in order for support to be given. However, a Diagnostic Assessment can ensure that any additional support is targeted to the pupil’s specific areas of weakness and strength.

Getting Help - Adults

Adults with dyslexia are all different. Some dyslexic adults feel unable to cope with their difficulties, whilst others have found ways to get round their problems but changing demands at work or a new venture in life can present tough challenges.

There is no cure for dyslexia but with the right help and support dyslexics can overcome their difficulties and achieve great things. Many dyslexic people learn to cope with their difficulties, to make good use of their areas of strength and to become successful and fulfilled individuals.

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