Teresa Bliss


Learning to read and write are essential life skills in our society and quite understandably parents are very concerned when they can see that their children are not acquiring these essential skills at the same rate as their peers.

By talking to their children most parents can see that intellectually their children have no problems of understanding, but they know that their children are slower than expected at learning to read and spell. Parents of children who are struggling to learn to read and spell often wonder if their children are dyslexic? Children may also have problems with maths and other curriculum areas.

Difficulties associated with reading and spelling problems may include:

  • Mirror writing for example letters are written back to front e.g. b/d confusion, or upside down e.g. n/u confusion
  • Teachers reporting that the child ‘gets nothing down on paper’ because s/he takes so long (see Dyspraxia page)
  • Leaves letters out of words or put them in the wrong order
  • Cannot read back what has been written
  • Being disorganised
  • Having difficulties with remembering instructions
  • Having difficulties with learning times tables
  • Following directions is problematic
  • Issues with poor concentration and attention are also often common

As they get older young people have difficulties with believing in themselves as learners, their self-esteem suffers. They may continue to confuse places, times, dates. When it comes to writing essays they will experience difficulties with planning and structure in their essays.

A Definition of Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling… Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities. It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points. Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia. Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties, Sir Jim Rose, 2009.

The comment on writing from the Rose report should also be noted:

Problems with…writing is an enduring characteristic of dyslexia. Rose Report 5.19

To know if a child is dyslexic or not the child has first to be taught to read.

Government experts and researchers in this field say that children with severe reading and spelling difficulties require teaching that is ‘additional to and different from’ the general teaching that goes on in the classroom (Code of Practice 2001).

We all learn things at different rates, learning to read and spell is very complex. Good quality, systematic and highly structured teaching will normally resolve any problems that children have. Dyslexia can only be properly diagnosed once children have had a significant programme of support, with appropriate teaching and made very little or no progress.


Dyslexia can be diagnosed by educational psychologists and specially trained teachers (The Rose Report 2009).

Sometimes there are other problems such as speech and language difficulties or hearing problems that may contribute to reading and spelling difficulties, but not all children with these problems are dyslexic.

I hope that this has given you some useful information about the complexities surrounding the failure to acquire the skills of reading and spelling that is known as dyslexia.

There is more information on my other pages, there is a lot that teachers and parents can do to support a child who is failing to learn to read and write at an age appropriate level.

For an adult or child assessment you can contact me by clicking here.