Happy Learners - Dyslexia

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Dyslexic individuals generally achieve average or above average results in assessments of their non-verbal reasoning but may present with an uneven cognitive profile and often struggle specifically with relating language to symbols and sounds. Where the pattern of difficulties or delay is more global then, though the individual may share the same problems as some dyslexics, dyslexia or Specific Learning Disorder would not be the appropriate diagnosis.

Dyslexia is an umbrella term used to explain the difficulties experienced in acquiring literacy skills. However, dyslexia could perhaps be better described as a specific language acquistion and processing difficulty impacting on literacy and learning development. This recognises the role of auditory and visual processing of language in reading. Just like there are many different parts of a car that can be faulty and prevent it from working, there are many different skills and processes that need to come together to enable an individual to acquire reading successfully. This means that dyslexia is caused by one or more of a number of possible difficulties. Thus not all dyslexics are the same and they therefore need approaches and support matched to their specific difficulties.

Common Difficulties

Some of the difficulties frequently experienced by dyslexics:

Dyslexia is also referred to as a Specific Learning Disorder by educational and health professionals recognising both the diagnostic classification of the condition and the wider impact on the individual's ability to learn.

Benefits of Dyslexia

There is some evidence that individuals with dyslexia may be better at making links between disconnected aspects of learning and experiences leading to creativity. Many dyslexic adults find success in employment where they can be creative such as in visual and performing arts; designing roles such as architecture and gardening; and jobs interacting with people such as in the retail sector.

Some of the positive traits frequently enjoyed by dyslexics:

Emotional well-being of dyslexic children

Many dyslexic children can develop poor self-esteem as they become frustrated with their difficulties in learning in school. Parents and school staff can do a lot to support these children and help them to remain positive and engaged simply by recognising their difficulty. Dyslexic children often have to work harder to make sense of their learning and can become more quickly tired. They can be accused of being lazy when quite often the opposite is true. Frequent praise and recognition of what they achieve can help to make them more resilient to the feelings of failure that many experience. Use of reward systems to motivate and recognise achievement can help maintain healthy mental health.


Dyslexia or Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) is usually diagnosed by an educational psychologist. In the UK, the use of private educational psychologists is frequently the only avenue open to parents wishing to investigate this for their child. A diagnosis can be helpful in providing a reason for a child's difficulties or lack of progress compared to their peers. Extra time in public examinations is also usually given to those with a diagnosis. However, a diagnosis of dyslexia does not always mean that the child will be entitled to additional support at school; particularly if other indicators of progress are within the average for their age. It is also worth noting that entitlement to extra time in examinations often requires the diagnostic report to be fairly current e.g. no more a couple of years old so it is worth considering timing. Developmentally, children vary considerably in the first few years of school and some will acquire language and literacy skills later. Therefore, seeking an assessment before the child is aged 7 may be premature.

Supporting Dyslexia

For information about effective management and strategies click to our page on Dyslexia Management


Five Minute Guide to Dyslexia

Five-Minute Guide to Dyslexia

A handy A5 leaflet designed to provide essential introductory information to dyslexia. (When printing select two sided and flip on short side.)

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