Things to consider
Dyslexia is a neurological difference and can have significant educational implications. It usually runs in families and is a life-long condition.
The first symptom noticed is usually a literacy difficulty. However, features of dyslexia also include memory and information processing skills and these will be considered when assessing for dyslexia. A psychologist or specialist dyslexia teacher will ask for information about the following factors which may influence the diagnosis of dyslexia. A checklist or screening test will not take these factors into account.
Were there any problems before, during or after birth e.g. a premature birth?
Are others in the family dyslexic? There is usually a genetic factor in developmental dyslexia, although other family members may have varying symptoms and severity.
Are there any factors such as school attendance which need to be considered? Has school put in place support for other Special Educational Needs? To what extent has it helped?
Have there been any long illnesses resulting in school absence? Could there be any undiagnosed conditions, e.g. mild epilepsy or petit mal, which may look like inattention and gaps in learning? A physical injury or a stroke may indicate acquired dyslexia.
Does the child/adult lose their place when reading or reverse letters or words? Do they appear to be sensitive to light or describe blurring text or moving letters? A vision test in school is not sufficient to identify visual difficulties associated with dyslexia. If visual difficulties are suspected, a full sight test must be carried out by an optometrist.
Has hearing been checked? As a young child, did they have 'glue ear' which may have hindered auditory perception of sounds in words?
Speech and language
Have there been delays or deficits in speech and language development? This includes pronunciation of words, vocabulary development, complexity of spoken language and understanding of language heard. Your GP may suggest a referral to a speech and language therapist.
For more information visit www.afasic.org.uk
Is English the first language at home? If not, this could have implications for test results, even for visual/spatial aspects of cognitive ability for which oral instructions are given.
Is the child/adult clumsy or accident-prone? Does this affect gross and fine motor movements? Can they anticipate the movements of others, e.g. in team games?
Difficulties with self-care, writing and play may be symptoms of dyspraxia which is also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) and referral to an occupational therapist may be advisable.
For more information visit the Dyspraxia Foundation website.
Attention and self-esteem
Staying focused and paying attention can be difficult for those with dyslexia. Being restless or fidgety, talking a lot and interrupting, being easily distracted and finding it hard to concentrate are also symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
For more information visit the ADHD Foundation
Dyslexia can result in significant loss of self-esteem and low self-confidence. Grooops is a charity which offers support to those suffering the emotional repercussions of dyslexia. For more information visit www.grooops.org
Does the child/adult have difficulty making eye-contact, communicating and making relationships, and showing appropriate behaviour? Is there a tendency towards some aspect of autism?
For further information, visit the National Autistic Society website.