Key indicators of dyslexia in school
Author Maria Buttuller
Date 27th Sep 2021
A dyslexia friendly classroom begins with a dyslexia friendly teacher and the first step toward making your classroom a welcoming and inclusive learning environment for students with dyslexia is to understand it.
Signs of dyslexia usually become more obvious when children start school and begin to focus on reading and writing. But dyslexia affects much more than reading and writing. It also causes difficulties with organisation, maths and memory.
It has been documented that dyslexia is identifiable, with 92% accuracy, from the age of 5 and a half, so it’s essential to identify and support learners with dyslexia early.
While dyslexia indicators can vary from person to person, here are some of the most common signs to look out for in every classroom:
Reading & writing
A child with dyslexia may:
- take longer to write, and produce less, than other students
- immediately forget what they have just read
- present a slower reading and processing speed
- miss out words or skip lines as they read
- mix up the sequence of letters when spelling, e.g. hlep for help
Personal organisation and working memory
Dyslexic learners can also:
- have difficulty learning to tell the time
- present poor time-keeping
- have poor personal organisation
- show difficulty remembering what day of the week it is, their birth date, seasons of the year, months of the year
- present difficulty with concepts – yesterday, today, tomorrow
- a child with dyslexia is likely to find it difficult to organise everyday tasks, and may forget and lose things often
- have difficulty remembering a sequence of instructions or directions
This is the ability to recognise individual sounds (phonemes) and work with phonemes to create new words. The following are typical errors, but difficulties will vary.
Typical problems include:
- confusing vowel sounds, e.g. writing ‘i’ for ‘e’
- difficulty rhyming
- blending sounds into a whole word
- difficulty with homophones and Sight Words
Homophones are extremely difficult for those with dyslexia because they usually struggle to recognise words when looking at them, e.g. ‘their’ and ‘there’. Dyslexic learners, therefore, quickly learn to rely on the strategy of learning to spell a word by building it phonetically. This doesn’t work for homophones.
Some more general signs to look out for include:
- the use of work avoidance tactics, such as sharpening pencils and looking for books
- appearing ‘dreamy’, not seeming to listen
- being easily distracted
- acting the class clown, or being disruptive or withdrawn
- being excessively tired due to the amount of concentration and effort required
A cluster of these indicators alongside areas of ability may suggest dyslexia, and further investigation may be required. If you suspect that a child in your class may be dyslexic, then you should discuss your concerns with the child's parents and the school SENCo to agree next steps and appropriate support.
The SEND Code of Practice states that if a teacher suspects that a learner has special educational needs (SEN) then they must inform the child's parents and include them in discussions about the best support for their child. They must also tell parents about any special educational provision that is made for their child.
It is advised that appropriate support is put in place as soon as a need is identified. A diagnostic assessment is not needed in order for SEN support to be provided. However, dyslexia can only be formally identified through a diagnostic assessment.
For further support you can also enrol on our supported online course and discover how to assess and apply your own classroom interventions for students with dyslexia.
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