Deciphering Dyslexia

What do Richard Branson, Alexander Graham Bell, Roald Dahl and Walt Disney all have in common?  Dyslexia. Claire Bolton sheds some light on the subject and highlights the importance of early intervention.

Peter* was a bright child with a genuine desire to learn about the world around him. He had a good vocabulary and from a young age he was constantly asking questions. It came as a surprise when he struggled to maintain his grades and began to fall behind his peers. His teacher quickly identified that Peter would struggle to answer written comprehension questions if he was required to read information, but was successful when someone read that same information and questions to him, thus removing the requirement of reading. Peter was fortunate because his teacher suspected Dyslexia and referred him to an Educational Psychologist for a diagnosis. He then saw a Speech and Language Therapist for further support. Peter’s grades and self-confidence have since improved.

The British Dyslexia Association describes dyslexia as “a specific learning difficulty which mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills”. It is also important to highlight that dyslexia does not affect intelligence.

Some Possible Signs of Dyslexia

  • Delayed speech or language development:  Hopefully a child with delayed speech and language development is under the care of a Speech and Language Therapist. If not, parents should discuss any concerns with their child’s teacher or General Practitioner, in order to request a referral.
  • Difficulties with reading:  A child who struggles to sound out the letters of words or recognise previously taught words may have dyslexia.
  • Difficulties with writing and spelling:  Writing the letters the wrong way (e.g. writing “bad” as “dab”) or jumbling letters within words (e.g. “street” may be written as srteet”) could be a sign of dyslexia.
  • Difficulties understanding rhymes:  Many children grasp the concept of “rhyme” when exposed to nursery rhymes and Dr Seuss books. Matching rhyming words (e.g. “Which two words rhyme: cat, car, mat?”), or being able to generate a rhyming word for another word (e.g. “Tell me a word that rhymes with book”) are important skills for literacy.
  • Difficulties with phonological awareness:  Phonological awareness refers to how easily children can recognise and manipulate sounds, syllables and rhyme (e.g. “What word is made by swapping the ‘sh’ in ‘shop’ for a ‘ch’?” or “How many syllables are in the word, ‘dinosaur’?”).
  • Struggles to recall what they have read:  If a student has been asked to read a passage to themselves but then is not able to accurately explain what they have read, if could be an indication of dyslexia.


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