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Dyslexia Assessments

Dyslexia: Getting the facts straight

It’s not being lazy, it’s not bad eyes and it’s certainly not a measure of intellect. There are many things dyslexia is not, but lots of people are still confused about what it really is. Let us bust some myths and explain exactly what dyslexia is all about.

Most people have heard of dyslexia, but truly understanding it and what it means for those living with it is very different. For a start, it’s probably much more common than you realise. The British Dyslexia Association estimate that 10% of the British population are living with dyslexia, including movie stars, politicians and entrepreneurs, and it’s been the subject of research for over 100 years. But if that’s the case, why is it still so poorly understood? To answer that question, we need to look more closely at what dyslexia actually is.

It’s in the processing

Although it’s commonly believed to be a difficulty with reading and writing, in reality that is a consequence of dyslexia. In fact, dyslexia is a neurological issue which affects the way the brain processes information. This means that anyone with dyslexia can have difficulty processing and remembering information and it can impact on many areas of life, not only reading accurately and writing fluently, but also organisational skills, coordination and memory.

But this same neurological difference can mean that dyslexics often have real strengths in reasoning and creative or visual fields. Having dyslexia is absolutely not a sign of a child’s intelligence, it’s actually the gap between their ability and achievement. Once that gap has been identified it’s just a case of working out the best way to bridge it. At Dyslexia First, we feel really strongly that dyslexia does not have to be a barrier for anyone. All it takes is the right support to help any dyslexic unlock their full potential, and that support comes from a professional diagnosis.

One size doesn’t fit all

Although it affects a lot of people, it impacts each one differently and can be assessed as anywhere from mild to severe, and everything in between. This is probably the real reason it’s often so difficult to diagnose as there are no hard and fast rules.

If you’re wondering whether your child could be dyslexic, there are some key things to look out for. They might have difficulty:

  • reading smoothly and understanding what they have read
  • writing accurately and recognizing common words
  • spelling and sounding out written words
  • learning a new language
  • solving word problems in maths

The list is not exhaustive and it’s certainly not prescriptive, but it’s definitely a good place to start, and remember they don’t need to tick all of the boxes, if they’re struggling in just one area that can be enough. It’s not that kids with dyslexia aren’t trying hard or aren’t clever, they just need that extra help to make progress.

The best thing is to trust your own judgement. You know your child better than anyone and if you have concerns then getting an assessment is crucial. The earlier dyslexia is diagnosed, the quicker you can put that vital support in place and reduce those educational challenges which can easily begin to dent their confidence.

It’s a childhood thing

Unfortunately, whatever degree of dyslexia you have, it will be with you for good. A child with dyslexia won’t grow out of it when they reach adulthood, but the earlier it’s diagnosed the quicker you can find support and reduce the negative impact it can have. It’s just about learning to learn differently and finding what works for each individual.

It is common for dyslexia to run in families and it can concur with other learning difficulties, but that is certainly not always the case. However severe your child’s dyslexia, the important thing is to get a trained professional involved rather than trying to figure things out yourself. The spectrum of severity is so great that it takes someone with experience to help you diagnose it and recommend specific measures that will help them to do all the things they want to be able to do, without dyslexia getting in the way. In short, an assessment can be life changing.

The tests cover everything from visual and verbal skills to literacy and cognitive processing. Once dyslexia is identified, you can then work with your school to ensure that the right accommodations are made for your child, whether that’s giving a report orally instead of writing it, support with IT and spelling tests, using audiobooks, text to speech apps or multisensory learning, using touch, hearing and movement as well as sight.

For older children it could mean they receive extra time or provision during exams, at university it allows them to claim Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) and in adulthood they can ask for reasonable adjustments to be made in their workplace. Whatever their stage of life, understanding and confirming their dyslexia can only be beneficial.

About Dyslexia First
At Dyslexia First we want to help those who are living with dyslexia to enjoy life and the many opportunities it brings. We are relentlessly positive about dyslexia.

If you would like to talk further about dyslexia and discuss assessment for children or adults suspected of being dyslexic, then please get in touch.