Reading Difficulties and Dyslexia

​Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects the skills needed to read words quickly and accurately. Dyslexia can also affect writing and spelling.

Literacy – reading, writing and understanding – is the foundation for all learning. Identifying students with reading difficulties as early as possible, including dyslexia, is important to their learning in all areas. Students can then be given the support they need to keep up with their classmates and take part in all the learning opportunities at school.

Typical Features of Dyslexia

Dyslexia usually includes difficulty with:

  • hearing and being able to manipulate the separate sounds in words (phonological awareness)
  • remembering, for a short time, a list of words, numbers or instructions (verbal memory)
  • being able to quickl​y process familiar letters, words, digits or numbers (verbal processing speed).

Phonological awareness

Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the separate sounds within words (phonemes) and is a key foundation skill for early reading and spelling development. An example of phonological awareness is understanding that if the ‘p’ in ‘pat’ is changed to an ‘s’ the word becomes ‘sat’.

When reading, if a child has problems with phonological awareness they might have difficulty recognising that sounds can be represented by letters or groups of letters within written words (this is often called phonics at school).

Verbal memory awareness

Verbal memory is the ability to remember an ordered sequence of words or numbers for a short period of time. For example, it is used to remember a list of words, numbers or instructions.

Verbal processing speed

Verbal processing speed is the time taken to process familiar information, such as words, letters and numbers.

Difficulty in these areas can be detected at an early age. However, these difficulties may not be noticed until a child struggles with learning to read in the first years of school. If your child can see and hear clearly, doesn’t have an intellectual disability and displays some of the difficulties above they may have dyslexia.

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