'It has helped me realise that I have dyslexia and that I can get help with my readying [sic] and
spelling which I have difficulty with at college,
with my course work with my time sheets at work. It has helped me learn my address and words that I can use on a Daly [sic] basis.'

'I attended the dyslexia tuition to help myself find ways to cope with my disability in a work environment. From this course I achieved more confidence in my writing. From here I hope to go on and achieve more qualifications in the care sector
and maybe do my English again.'

The examples (Examples of learners) show that dyslexia manifests itself mainly in written language, although oral language and numeracy skills may also be affected. In basic skills classes, where the teaching involves written activities, dyslexic learners may find the tasks difficult. They may experience anxiety because of repeated past failures, or feel frustrated by their inability to make progress by conventional methods.

The following checklist shows a pattern of difficulties associated with dyslexia. Although many of these are not exclusive to dyslexia, they indicate that dyslexia is not merely a difficulty with reading and spelling. Use the checklist to help you to consider:

  • whether your learner may be dyslexic
  • whether you should refer your learner for a specialist diagnosis, or
  • whether you should modify your teaching methods (See Teaching basic skills).

Remember, you are looking for a pattern of difficulty. Identifying three out of four difficulties will not necessarily mean that the learner is dyslexic. Many of us may have experienced several of the problems listed, but our difficulties are not intractable or established. A dyslexic learner will continue to have these difficulties even if they become competent readers and writers.

Dyslexia checklist. A person may be dyslexic if he or she:

Tick Tick 
  shows significant discrepancy between oral and written performance   may have difficulty holding a pen, and their hand sometimes begins to hurt after a short period of writing
  experiences persistent or severe problems with spelling, even with easy or common words   has handwriting that is messy, poorly constructed or immature; handwriting deteriorates after a short period of writing
  may spell a word in several different ways on the same page   writes slowly; it takes a long time to write a single word, sentence or paragraph
  spells erratically - has good days and bad days   experiences left/right confusions (e.g. when driving); may find writing from the left margin confusing
  has difficulty getting ideas onto paper, even if he or she knows the spelling of the words he or she wishes to use   has trouble generalising, or acquiring and applying rules (e.g. when being given rules for spelling)
  has persistent problems with sentence structure, punctuation and/or organisation of written work, not due to a lack of teaching or previous experience   does not seem to learn by ordinary teaching methods (e.g. chalk and talk) and quickly appears bored or listless
  has problems ordering things sequentially (e.g. alphabetical/numerical order or prioritising facts)   has a poor concept of time (is often late for appointments); loses sense of time
  consistently fails to express real understanding, ideas or vocabulary in written work   has poor short-term memory for learning of words and taking in new information (but often a very good long-term memory)
  frequently misreads or miscopies (from a white board or book); copies very slowly   finds it difficult to organise him or herself, his or her work or time (folder is often messy; cannot get work in on time)
  may misread bus numbers, reading 58 for 85   confuses dates; may write the date wrongly
  loses place when reading, or in a series of instructions; skips words or phrases   might be described as a 'quick forgetter' rather than a 'slow learner'
  has difficulty in seeing errors (proofreading)   mispronounces multi-syllabic words; may find it difficult to express ideas when speaking, especially when stressed
  finds reading new words difficult or fails to recognise familiar ones   may find instructions difficult to remember or can only remember one or two at a time (learner needs them to be repeated)

Using your checklist

How many learners do you work with who show six or more of the above indicators of dyslexia?

Do you notice any pattern of difficulty that your identified learners display? What should be your next step to try and help these learners?

All beginner learners may experience a few of the above indicators. However, for a learner to be referred for further diagnosis and specialist support, the difficulties need to be grouped within the context of the type of difficulties given below.

The examples (see above) indicate the conclusions that were reached through diagnostic assessment. They indicate learners may have the following type/s of dyslexia:

  • visual processing difficulties (Susan)
  • auditory and visual processing difficulties (Cliff)
  • auditory/visual/motor processing difficulties (Natalie).
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