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Dyslexia: Diagnosis & Support

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Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty (not to be confused with learning disability)  that can cause problems with reading, writing, and spelling. It is a lifelong neurological condition that affects people of all ages. Those with dyslexia often have trouble with phonological processing, which is the ability to analyse the sounds of our own language allowing us to break words down into individual sounds and blend them together to form new words. Essentially, it impacts the way the brain processes written language and sometimes spoken language too. This can make it challenging to decode words and understand how sounds relate to letters and words. According to the NHS it affects about 10% of people in the UK at varying degrees.

Individuals with dyslexia show challenges such as:

  • Having difficulties reading fluently
  • Spelling words incorrectly
  • Having a slower reading and writing rate 
  • Confusing letters that look similar
  • Completing tasks in sequence
  • Decoding difficult words
  • Have a harder time focusing on reading and writing when there are distractions
  • Trouble following instructions
  • Difficulties with executive functioning such as planning and problem solving

Despite these challenges, it is important to note that dyslexia is not related to intelligence- many individuals with dyslexia are highly intelligent and creative and with the right support and strategies, they can thrive academically and professionally.

Diagnosis of Dyslexia in the UK
In the UK, diagnosing dyslexia involves a comprehensive assessment by qualified professionals, such as educational psychologists or specialist dyslexia assessors. The assessment typically includes a review of the individual’s developmental history, educational achievements, and cognitive skills. Standardised tests and observations are used to evaluate reading, writing, spelling, and phonological processing skills.

The British Dyslexia Association and NHS provide guidelines for diagnosing dyslexia and recommend a multi-faceted approach to assessment. Once a diagnosis is made, individuals with dyslexia can access support and accommodations to help them overcome challenges in educational and professional settings.

There is notably a higher rate of dyslexia co-occurring with other neurodevelopmental conditions such as Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) and  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). All these conditions are also known as neurodiverse conditions. 

Recommendations for Children

Children with dyslexia often face academic challenges that can impact their self-esteem and confidence. It is important to provide them with the support and tools they need to succeed. Here are some strategies that can help children cope with dyslexia:

  1. Multisensory Learning: Using multiple senses, such as sight, sound, and touch, can enhance learning for children with dyslexia. Teachers can incorporate hands-on activities, visual aids, and auditory cues to reinforce learning.
  2. Structured Literacy Programs: Evidence-based literacy programs that teach phonics, decoding, and spelling skills can be highly effective for children with dyslexia. These programs break down language concepts into manageable parts, making it easier for children to learn.
  3. Assistive Technology: Technology tools such as speech-to-text software, audiobooks, and word prediction programs can help children with dyslexia access information and express themselves more effectively.
  4. Accommodations in the Classroom: Providing accommodations, such as extra time on tasks, verbal rather than written instructions, and modified assignments, can level the playing field for children with dyslexia.

The British Dyslexia Association provides further guidance on how to help children with spelling, writing and reading here.

Recommendations for Adults

Adults with dyslexia may continue to face challenges in the workplace and in everyday life. Adults can also benefit from the right strategies and support. Here are some coping strategies for adults with dyslexia:

  1. Disclosure and Reasonable Adjustments: Being open about dyslexia with employers, colleagues, and friends can help adults receive the support they need. Asking for reasonable adjustments such as having more time to complete tasks and assistive technology, or verbal instructions, can make tasks such as reading, writing, and organising information more manageable.
  2. Organisational Tools: Using tools such as calendars, task lists, and note-taking apps can help adults with dyslexia stay organised and on track with their responsibilities.
  3. Professional Development: Seeking out training and resources from educators or coaches to improve reading, writing, and communication skills can benefit adults with dyslexia in the workplace.

Dyslexia is a common complex learning difficulty that can present challenges in reading and writing. However, with early diagnosis, support, and effective coping strategies, individuals with dyslexia can overcome challenges caused by the condition and achieve their full potential. 

NeuroDirect
Author: NeuroDirect