Research suggests dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia have a neurological basis, and may also have a genetic component. While estimates of prevalence vary, it is thought that 5 to 10% 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 an SLD is generally a deficit in one or more of the basic psychological processes, especially working memory, processing speed or phonological processing. Ann impairment in these cognitive processes impacts the ease and efficiency of symbolic learning, which is required in tasks such as learning sound-symbol associations, memorising maths facts.
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 aged children, as identified by the Ministry of Education NZ, 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 fundamental numerical concepts.
Common signs of an SLD in maths (dyscalculia)
Common signs of dyscalculia include difficulty: