Over 6 million people in the UK has some form of dyslexia, which equates to about 10% of the population. It affects everyone to varying degrees - for some it can have a negligible impact on their daily life, whereas others may find themselves struggling with it on a daily basis.
All this is true not just for adults, but primary school children too. For schoolchildren, the challenges that the condition often presents can be even more pronounced in an academic setting, since by definition standard learning already takes up a sizeable amount of their mental concentration and emotional energy.
Thankfully, there are growing numbers of assets and teaching aids that teachers can utilise to help students overcome learning barriers, such as personalised exercise books specifically designed to help dyslexic children. However, in order to properly help a pupil with dyslexia, it’s first helpful to know how to spot the signs of the condition.
Why is it so difficult to identify dyslexia in primary school children?
Now, the tricky thing about identifying dyslexia is that it comes in many forms, and no two children will present exactly the same set of symptoms. What’s more, many of the traits that most people associate with dyslexia are also fairly common amongst all children who are in the very early stages of learning how to read, write and express themselves. All that goes some way to explaining why identifying the condition can be such an exceptionally difficult job for teachers!
If any individual pupil exhibits exceptional difficulty with spelling, reading, writing or numeracy, that may well start to set off your radar. Here, we’ve summed up some of the most common potential signs of dyslexia - however, please be aware that it’s by no means an exhaustive list, and just a few symptoms in isolation may not be indicative of the condition - and of course, it’s always best to leave an actual diagnosis to the professionals!
General and behavioural signs to watch out for
Some potential signs of dyslexia can be categorised according to various skills, such as reading, writing or speaking. However, others are more general or behavioural, such as:
- Poor concentration - difficulty focusing on tasks for more than a few minutes at a time (which can result in poor classroom attainment)
- Difficulty with following instructions - this may related to specific academic tasks, or just consistently poor classroom behaviour
- Poor personal organisation - difficulty in remembering important tools or resources, such as bringing school exercise books to class
- Indeterminate hand preference - regularly writes with alternating hands from day to day
- Difficulty with dates - this can include struggling to remember what day of the week it is, months or seasons of the year, or even their birth date
- Fluctuating academic performance - many dyslexic children experience uneven spikes in their classwork, sometimes demonstrating low attainment in some subjects or skills while evincing exceptionally high aptitude in others. Their academic performance may also be inconsistent from day to day.
Potential signs of dyslexia with reading or writing
Reading and writing account for some of the most common skills that teachers look for when they suspect that a child may be struggling with dyslexia. The main problems to keep an eye on include the following:
Poor or inconsistent spelling - including regular or noticeable misuse of punctuation
Struggling with handwriting or presentation - this can include poor handwriting with a greater-than-usual number of ‘reversals’, where the shape of certain letters are flipped. It also encompasses badly formed letters or writing in all caps. Dyslexic students may also experience some difficulty in blending letters together
Unusual sequencing of letters or words - as well as rearranging the order of certain words within sentences, pupils may also miss out words when reading, or add extra words
Low confidence with reading and writing - affected pupils may have difficulty with reading certain fonts, or show a hesitancy to read aloud (whether alone, or in a group or classroom setting)
Potential signs of dyslexia with speaking
- Slow spoken language - pupils may speak noticeably slowly compared to their peers, or exhibit difficulty in getting certain words in the right order within sentences
- Difficulty manipulating some sounds in words - dyslexic pupils may exhibit consistent difficulty with the pronunciation of certain words, which may end up affecting their ability to express themselves properly
- Forgetting words - pupils may demonstrate an unusually short memory for certain words, even after several reminders or explanations, which can (again) end up affecting their ability to express themselves
- Noticeable discrepancies between writing and speaking ability - pupils may demonstrate normal aptitude with either writing or speaking, while struggling with the corresponding skill, which can lead to understandable frustration
Now, we should reiterate here that this is not a full and complete list, but it may give you a valuable head start on recognising some of the most severe symptoms. If you suspect a child in your class may be dyslexic, we’ve already written some posts that you may find helpful, including an article exploring the best exercise books for children with learning difficulties, and how to help KS1 students struggling with spelling.
And of course, with more than 40 years of experience behind us, here at EPSL we provide a fantastic range of plain express exercise books and personalised exercise books, which can be tailored to become perfect for children with dyslexia. If you’ve got any questions, you can count on us to provide answers in as much or as little detail as you need. Feel free to give us a call on 01254 686 500!