Sir Jim Rose’s Report on 'Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties’ in 2009 gave the following description of dyslexia which many people now accept:
'Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.

  • Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.
  • 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.
  • A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well-founded intervention.'

The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) has adopted the Rose Report description, but also acknowledges the visual and auditory processing difficulties that some individuals with dyslexia can experience, and points out that dyslexic readers can show a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process. Some also have strengths in other areas, such as design, problem solving, creative skills, interactive skills and oral skills.

What are the signs of dyslexia in different phases?

Developmental phase

Signs of dyslexia


Speech and language difficulties
Difficulty with rhyming skills/ nursery rhymes and word games
Appear to be clumsy/accident prone

Primary school years

Difficulty learning letters
Difficulty hearing the sounds in words, rhyme etc.
Difficulty getting off the starting blocks with reading
Difficulty pronouncing words, especially longer words/ language delay / difficulties finding the right word to use
Problems copying
Slow reading/poor decoding and/or poor comprehension
Difficulties with spelling
Difficulty sequencing stories, learning times tables
Left/right confusion
Organisation difficulties
Difficulties remembering instructions
Has good and bad days
Does not finish work

Adolescence and adulthood

Poor reading fluency and/or poor reading comprehension / reluctant reader
Difficulty remembering instructions, telephone numbers etc.
Slow speed of writing
Difficulties with spelling compared to peers
Poor organisation and expression in work
Difficulties remembering tasks to be done/handing them in on time.
Has good and bad days.
Has low self-esteem/behavioural difficulties
Has difficulty finishing work
Discrepancy between oral and written ability.

Long term outcomes depend on the extent and quality of support provided to the learner.

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