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What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a common learning difference or difficulty that in the main affects accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Unlike a learning disability intelligence is not affected but it is a lifelong problem that can present challenges on a daily basis.

Dyslexia is on a continuum; its effects may be slight to severe. It can and often does co-occur with other learning difficulties such as Dyspraxia/Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), Dyscalculia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD) and Autism. Each of these are also on continuum’s and the degree of co-occurrence will also vary, so each individual’s profile is likely to be unique.

There has been much research and many definitions of Dyslexia over the past 50 years or so. But in the most simple terms it affects the way people process information, store it in their brains and then retrieve it. It affects memory, speed of processing, sequencing of information, time perception and organisation.

The exact causes of Dyslexia are unclear but it is thought that it can be hereditary. There is certainly plenty of evidence of this.

There can be confusion over terminologies. Dyslexia is often called a Specific Learning Difficulty or Difference (SpLD) to differentiate it from Learning Difficulty or Difference which is more usually applied to those with an overall impairment of intellect or function.

Signs to look out for vary at different ages but a dyslexic may:

  • read and write very slowly
  • confuse the order of letters in words
  • put letters the wrong way round – such as writing “b” instead of “d”
  • have poor or inconsistent spelling and messy handwriting
  • understand information when told verbally, but have difficulty with information that’s written down
  • find it hard to carry out a sequence of directions
  • struggle with planning and organisation

Bear in mind Dyslexia is not just about reading and writing. It can affect numeracy (maths), time keeping, directional skills, behaviour and organisational skills to name a few.

The British Dyslexia Association website is a great place for further detailed information on Dyslexia and its indicators.

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