Research suggests Specific Learning Disorders (SLDs), including dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia, have a neurological basis, and may also have a genetic component. While estimates of prevalence vary, research suggests that around 5% of children may be affected, with diagnoses ranging along a continuum from 'mild' to 'severe'.
In essence, dyslexia refers to a pattern of learning difficulties characterised by problems with accurate or fluent word recognition, poor decoding, and poor spelling. Underlying this is generally a weakness in one or more of the basic psychological processes, especially phonological processing (awareness of the sounds making up spoken words). Working memory and processing speed may also be affected. These weaknesses impact the ease and efficiency of learning sound-letter associations, a core skill necessary for reading.
The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as a:
“specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
Common signs of an SLD in reading (dyslexia)
Symptoms can vary not only from person to person, but also across age groups. The British Dyslexia Association provides an extensive list of symptoms, organised by age group. Common signs in primary school include children who:
A person with dysgraphia has difficulty with the process of writing. It may affect the mechanics of writing, or the ability to organise a written response, or both.
Common signs of an SLD in writing (dysgraphia)
Dyscalculia is more than just 'trouble with maths', it is a difficulty grasping very basic numerical concepts.
Common signs of an SLD in maths (dyscalculia)
Common signs of dyscalculia include difficulty with: