Dyslexia Dyslexia Reading Difficulties SpLD

Dyslexia – The Indicators

Identifying Dyslexia

This is the final post in a series I have written on Dyslexia:

What is it?  http://julesdaulby.com/2014/11/08/dyslexia-how-to-help-in-secondary-school/

How to support in Primary School?  http://julesdaulby.com/2014/11/14/dyslexia-how-to-help-primary/

How to support in Secondary School? http://julesdaulby.com/2014/10/23/dyslexia-what-is-it/

I’ve tried to break down into age groups but it is a rough guide .  No one indicator means dyslexia, it is more a pattern of behaviours which make up a ‘spiky profile’.

Professor Julian Elliot’s latest book, the Dyslexia Debate, questions the validity of the term dyslexia. http://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/education/research/DyslexiaDebateResearchBriefing.pdf

Dyslexia Debate

I have sympathy with his view but ultimately feel the term ‘dyslexia’ is still useful. That said,  ‘Identify difficulties and put strategies in place’, so, if you want to replace ‘dyslexia’ with ‘reading difficulties’, go ahead.

From Early Years

  • Lack of rhyming ability
  • Seems to struggle with saying what they want to say
  • May forget the words they want to use (word retrieval)
  • May mispronounce words ‘babana’ for ‘banana’
  • May struggle to sound out (my daughter came out of the toilet and sounded out  ‘f-u-k’ a few years ago; I  was about to tell my son off for making his sister sound out  swear words when I realised she was trying to sound out ‘fl-u-sh’.  She was only 4 at the time but actually, at 6 still struggles with phonics and is a little behind with her reading – I am not concerned but ‘aware’ as is her teacher)
  • Counting – may not sequence 1-10 (in comparison to typically developing peers)
  • Memory – doesn’t appear to remember instructions – may forget what he’s gone to fetch
  • Slow to process information
  • May struggle to write the letter corresponding to the sound

From Primary KS1

  • Letter/sound correspondence is not coming automatically along with the group
  • Struggles to spell corresponding letters to sound – may mix letters up – for cat writes cta

  • Doesn’t appear to be picking phonics up as well as her peers – when you say b-e-d  she replies ‘bunk’ or something similarly random
  • When trying to read simple CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words he may not use the correct letter at the beginning or end of the word
  • Still struggling with rhyme and other abilities such as alliteration (name me some words beginning with ‘b’ like bat).
  • Syllabification – struggles to work out how many syllables in words, even with clapping
  • Elision – is the ability to manipulate letters within words – say ‘cat’ without ‘c’ (at)
  • Memory – appears to struggle to remember instructions, may forget things
  • May need longer to work things out – often last to finish (this may result in getting muddled and frustrated)
  • May struggle with sequencing – times tables, alphabet, days of the week/month etc

Pupil may be given extra support which should remediate any difficulties – if interventions do not appear to be making a difference however and the difficulty appears more persistent and significant then an assessment may be wise. (Wave 1 to Wave 2)

From Primary KS2

  • Similar difficulties to above but although knows letter/sound correspondence may still struggle to blend –  laboriously sounds out letters without putting the chunks of words together
  • May be able to read simple words such as cat, dog but struggle with initial blends such as sh and ch or later sl, str
  • May appear to read more complex words they have learned through stories and subjects by sight, yet easier words are still a struggle e.g. not decoding to read
  • Reading still at sounding out stage and hasn’t reached fluency (by approx year 4/5 in age appropriate books)
  • Spellings – over phonetic, bizarre, missing vowel sounds, correct letters but in wrong order, lack of syllables
  • Enjoys listening to stories but appears disinterested in reading themselves
  • The gap is beginning to widen between him and his typically developing peers in literacy
  • May have good language ability which appears better than spelling and reading skills
  • May shine in subjects which do not require reading and writing
  • Avoids work – needs toilet frequently, constantly sharpening pencils, offers to help a lot

Wave 1 interventions have not made a difference, Wave 2 interventions have been put in place –  difficulty is still persistent – may require Wave 3 (specialist 1:1 support)

Secondary School – KS3/KS4

  • Teachers express surprise at poor spelling and writing ability
  • Resists reading out loud in class
  • Spellings errors as above
  • May appear disorganised – loses work, papers always scrunched up at bottom of bag
  • Forgetful – leaves books in lockers, repeatedly asks same questions
  • Easily distracted (attention and concentration)
  • May misinterpret instruction
  • Slow Processing
  • Poor short term memory
  • Class clown – poor behaviour so withdrawn (maybe frightened of exposing difficulties)

Sixth Form/FE

  • May have become proficient in reading but writing still doesn’t appear commensurate with ability
  • May be using Assistive Technology to remove barrier of reading and writing
  • May appear disorganised – late with assignments – can become overwhelmed with work load
  • Still needs extra time to process information
  • Needs adjustments for poor short term memory

Higher Education

  • May use assistive technology
  • May require 1:1 support in a weekly session to enable them to keep up and run through language of assignments (tutors should be specialist and a member of ADSHE/PATOSS or similar)
  • Written work may still not match with verbal ability – it may seem ‘chunky’ rather than ‘flow’
  • Structure of work poor  (random order)
  • Many universities have stickers which students with dyslexia put on assignments – this reminds tutors to make a reasonable adjustment for written work
  • Still slow to process and will require extra time
  • Will still have short term memory difficulties
  • Inconsistent with understanding – some things seem obvious to her (maybe even more than the rest of the group but simpler concepts she may not get at all – often basic skills worse than higher order skills – Richard Branson admitting to not knowing what net profit meant despite being a successful entrepreneur for instance or degree level mathematicians who still can’t do times tables).

None of these behaviours suggest dyslexia alone but would certainly warrant a request from SENCO to investigate further.

First question should be: Is this student achieving at similar rate as his typically developing peers?

(Always be aware of month of birth MOB rather than year of birth YOB at least in primary; although some research I read recently suggested it may take up to sixth form to even out).


Anagrams of words e.g Tried/tired

Over phonetic or incorrect phonic patterns hallow for hello mysstayk for mistake

Bizarre spellings wuwdl for would

Unusual sequencing prtort for parrot

Lack of vowels and syllables trg for turning


Misses out words or parts of words (often suffixes) when reading

Fails to recognise familiar words yet can read longer, less visually similar words (may be linked to specific subjects) – in a college I used to work in I had Horticulturists who could read complex Latin names for plants while confusing ‘when, where and we’re’ and horsey students who could spell equestrian but not ‘myself’.

General ‘at risk’ signs

Sequencing – struggles with dates, time, days of week and months, alphabet, times tables and left/right confusion. Do they know address, telephone number, date of birth? Look out for those students who wear digital watches – a real help for them.

Time keeping


May use incorrect grammar E.g someone what knows rather than someone who knows Sat by/on table rather than sat at the table

Performs unevenly through day or week (good days/bad days) ‘I know she’s capable as she’s done this before’.

Appears to day dream – not listening

Easily distracted – poor attention and concentration

Excessively tired – yawns a lot (maybe due to amount of concentration required rather than being up all night on the Xbox – although I’ll leave that up to you to decide)

1 thought on “Dyslexia – The Indicators”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.