What is Dyslexia?

The Australian Dyslexia Association (ADA) agrees with valid reading research: that all children who struggle with written language require identification and evidence based teaching regardless of the underlying cause.

ADA have adopted and adapted the International Dyslexia Association’s definition of Dyslexia:

DEFINITION OF DYSLEXIA: Dyslexia is a specific learning disability (“difference” ADA adapted) that is neurological in origin. It is characterised by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge (IDA 2014).

What does dyslexia look like?

In general, dyslexic children have a few or some of the following traits.

Dyslexic children:

  • Often have creative strengths and average/high IQs 
  • Have trouble reading and spelling
  • Need multisensory approaches to learning
  • Have lots of ideas and have trouble writing them clearly and correctly for others to read
  • Are reluctant to read aloud in class
  • Have wonderful imaginations and curiosity
  • Think “outside the box” and figure things out
  • Have ADHD
  • Have good listening comprehension when a story is read to them
  • Have speech delays
  • Have other family members who experience difficulty with words
  • Confuse words/nouns with the same number of syllables
  • Have a broad and complex oral vocabulary
  • Use non-specific terms “those things, thingy, stuff”
  • Struggle with Number (Dyscalculia)
  • Rely on rote learning and need to use materials when dealing with Number
  • Are eager to consider other ideas and try new things
  • Struggle with rhyme or reading whole words with unusual spelling e.g.”symphony”
  • Enjoy completing puzzles and have highly developed construction skills
  • Grasp new concrete ideas well 
  • Have trouble writing/spelling
  • Show signs of Dysgraphia: a brain-based condition where we see children having trouble with posture, coordination and motor skills
  • Need explicit spelling rules taught and learning needs to be linked to examples and “hooks”
  • Speak well in a shared group situation
  • Leave off word beginnings or reverse sounds in words
  • “Understand” and have a mature outlook
  • Are misdiagnosed with an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
  • Have learning issues due to an injury
  • Need repeated lessons on phonological awareness, to focus on the sounds of speech
  • Have trouble separating individual units of sound (phonemes) when reading words
  • Respond well to multisensory ways of learning
  • Confuse individual letters, vowel sounds, digraphs (e.g. ck/ch/sh) and blends (e.g. cr/sl/sw)
  • Have difficulties reading single irregular words e.g. eye, one



“Each child will have unique needs.”

ADA and Victorian Teacher of the Year 2015 and Dyslexia specialist
Sarah Asome


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