Dyslexia is a learning difference which primarily affects reading and writing skills. However, it does not only affect these skills. Dyslexia is actually about information processing. Dyslexic people may have difficulty processing and remembering information they see and hear, which can affect learning and the acquisition of literacy skills. Dyslexia can also impact on other areas such as organisational skills.  It is important to remember that there are positives to thinking differently. Many dyslexic people show strengths in areas such as reasoning and in visual and creative fields.

The Kent definition of dyslexia is: “Dyslexia is evident when accurate and fluent word reading and/or spelling develops very incompletely or with great difficulty. This focuses on literacy learning at the ‘word level’ and implies that the problem is severe and persistent despite appropriate learning opportunities. It provides the basis for a staged process of assessment through teaching.”

Kent’s policy is that persistent difficulties with reading and spelling are best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category. Identifying dyslexia does not rely on identifying a particular profile of cognitive skills. Indicators that a child is at risk of finding reading and spelling particularly difficult could include:

· difficulty in processing the sounds in speech

· difficulty in linking sounds to written letters

 · difficulty in short term or working memory

· difficulty in processing information about letters and sounds quickly.

Failure to grasp these underlying ‘phonological processing’ skills is almost universally agreed as being the underlying difficulty for children who find learning to read and spell particularly hard. Some children may also have additional difficulty with visual memory, visual discrimination or sequencing and with fine motor skills. Kent recognises well established research evidence which demonstrates that dyslexia can occur in children of all abilities.  The identification of dyslexia does not rely on identifying a discrepancy between a child’s overall cognitive (reasoning and problem solving) skills and his or her levels of attainment in literacy. Dyslexia is referred to in the SEND Code of Practice as a specific learning difficulty. Section 6.31 (p98) of the Code notes that; “Specific learning difficulties (SpLD), affect one or more specific aspects of learning. This encompasses a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.”

If you are concerned that your child may have dyslexia, you can look for the following:

General signs:

  • Speed of processing: slow spoken and/or written language
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Forgetting words

Written work

  • Poor standard of written work compared with oral ability
  • Produces messy work with many crossings out and words tried several times, e.g. wippe, wype, wiep, wipe
  • Confused by letters which look similar, particularly b/d, p/g, p/q, n/u, m/w
  • Poor handwriting with many ‘reversals’ and badly formed letters
  • Spells a word several different ways in one piece of writing
  • Makes anagrams of words, e.g. tired for tried, bread for beard
  • Produces badly set-out written work, doesn’t stay close to the margin
  • Poor pencil grip
  • Produces phonetic and bizarre spelling: not age/ability appropriate
  • Uses unusual sequencing of letters or words


  • Slow reading progress
  • Finds it difficult to blend letters together
  • Has difficulty in establishing syllable division or knowing the beginnings & endings of words
  • Unusual pronunciation of words
  • No expression in reading, and poor comprehension
  • Hesitant and laboured reading, especially when reading aloud
  • Misses out words when reading, or adds extra words
  • Fails to recognise familiar words
  • Loses the point of a story being read or written
  • Has difficulty in picking out the most important points from a passage


  • Confusion with place value e.g. units, tens, hundreds
  • Confused by symbols such as + and x signs
  • Difficulty remembering anything in a sequential order, e.g. tables, days of the week, the alphabet


  • Has difficulty learning to tell the time
  • Poor time keeping
  • Poor personal organisation
  • Difficulty remembering what day of the week it is, their birth date, seasons of the year, months of the year
  • Difficulty with concepts – yesterday, today, tomorrow


  • Poor motor skills, leading to weaknesses in speed, control and accuracy of the pencil
  • Limited understanding of non-verbal communication
  • Confused by the difference between left and right, up and down, east and west
  • Indeterminate hand preference
  • Performs unevenly from day to day


  • Uses work avoidance tactics, such as sharpening pencils and looking for books
  • Seems ‘dreamy’, does not seem to listen
  • Easily distracted
  • Is the class clown or is disruptive or withdrawn
  • Is excessively tired due to amount of concentration and effort required

Next steps

If you suspect that your child may be dyslexic then you should discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher, or the SENCo.  As a local authority, Kent do not ‘diagnose’ dyslexia as it is not a medical condition.  However, schools can put support in place, if this does not have an impact, then we can identify a child as being dyslexic or having dyslexic tendencies. 

At both Sibertwold and Eythorne Elvington Schools, we follow Dyslexia friendly classroom advice such as avoiding black writing on white backgrounds on the SMART boards, using clear fonts, not requiring children to copy large chucks of text from the SMART board, using visuals to support oral learning and finding multisensory ways to introduce new concepts.  Individual pupils might be offered specific strategies or resources such as coloured overlays, reading rulers, coloured exercise books, opportunities to use computer soft wear and alternative ways of recording their work such as mind maps, picture and labels, typing or verbalising to an adult to scribe for them etc.

Here is a link to a lovely video which explains Dyslexia in a positive and child friendly way: