11th June 2023.
Survey pdf file links on the Data Tracking Facility have been updated.
Traditionally, Dyslexia was considered a very specific reading disability due to a difficulty in the brain's processing of graphic symbols, phonological awareness, phonological decoding, orthographic coding, auditory short-term memory, and/or rapid naming.
These days, however, we regard Dyslexia as a more generalized learning disability that makes it extremely difficult for an individual to read, write, and spell in their native language; despite having at least average intelligence.
Dyslexia can sometimes impact on the learning of mathematics (Dyscalculia - specific calculation disorder).
It is estimated to affect between 5% and 17% of the population. Most agree it is an inherited condition and is identified in boys four times more frequently than girls. Current research indicates that identification may be problematic in girls and this may help to account for this diagnostic gender imbalance. While Dyslexia, as a single diagnosis, accounts for memory difficulties, it also coexists with other learning disorders, such as ADHD and ADD. There are, of course, typical behavioural patterns associated with Dyslexia.
Before starting school, children later diagnosed as Dyslexic are often reported to have experienced a history ear infections, with or without glue ear. They are likely to have demonstrated consistent minor difficulties in pronouncing longer words and locating the right word when speaking, and are likely to have started talking later than most.
As the student begins school, teachers and parents notice difficulties in their ability to acquire basic reading, writing and spelling skills. They appear not to be keeping up and are seen as underachieving. They may be able to spell a word verbally, but not write it down; the link between sounds and letters (phonology) does not develop as it does for others. Their reading lacks fluency and speed. They consistently trip over small words, read words that are not there, keep forgetting the same simple word from one page to the next and regularly lose their place, having to rely on their finger to keep track. They sound out syllables as they read, but forget them before they are able to blend the entire word. Their short term auditory memory lets them down. Naturally, these students are encouraged to try harder, and many do, but they tire quickly and can only read for short bursts. Well-intentioned help from parents often amplifies the child’s frustrations.
These students are the children who can learn for their spelling test and gain full marks; however, when tested on the same spelling words two or three weeks later they achieve little accuracy. One of the classic observations is the misspelling of the same words over and over, year in, year out. Examples include whent for went, thay for they, dun for done, and seaid or sed for said. A further indicator is poorly developed written language. Students with Dyslexia are slow to learn to write, may experience letter reversal difficulties, mix upper- and lower-case letters and, even though they work more slowly than other students, produce untidy and inaccurate bookwork. Commonly, their written language has words missing or may contain words not intended to be there.
Their memory difficulties may not be isolated to reading, spelling and writing; mathematics can also present difficulties. Number reversals (eg. 25 becoming 52), copying inaccuracies and misreading of written information skew mathematical outcomes. Significant difficulty in learning and retaining simple formulas, remembering the sequential steps involved in basic maths operations and recalling number sequences and patterns (especially the multiplication tables) undermine mathematical confidence and progress.
The complex interplay of overt and subtle memory and communication difficulties also affects organisation and concentration, and promotes a stream of seemingly careless errors. Some have social problems as part of their learning difficulty. Their social judgement is impaired and as a result they do not socialise easily, feeling isolated, 'picked on' or 'put down'.
Dyslexic difficulties often convince children that they are 'dumb'. Loss of confidence, in combination with their primary difficulty, results in secondary social, emotional, motivational and persistence difficulties. As school life is taxing, students may, avoid learning tasks, time waste, forget, lose books, switch off,, become resistant to accepting help and resort to covering up their Dyslexic difficulties by becoming disruptive.