Dyslexia is a specific 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.
It is estimated that up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK has some degree of Dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a lifelong learning difficulty that can present challenges on a daily basis, but support is available to improve reading and writing skills and help those to be successful at school and work. Dyslexia can impact how you process and remember information, but it doesn’t affect intelligence.
It’s very common, with around 10% of the population thought to be affected,
Usually, Surrey categorise Dyslexia as a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) in the area of Learning and Additional Needs (LAN).
What causes dyslexia?
It’s not exactly known what causes dyslexia, but there is some evidence that it can be linked to certain genes inherited by your parents.
Typical dyslexia symptoms can vary according to your age:
Dyslexia symptoms for pre-school children
- Slower speech development than what’s expected for your age
- Pronunciation problems
- Difficulties using language to express yourself
- Problems learning the alphabet
Dyslexia symptoms for primary school children
- Difficulty learning letters, putting letters in the wrong order or making anagrams of words
- Confused by numbers and letters that appear similar (for example, b and d or 6 and 9)
- Reading slowly and finding it hard to read aloud
- Feeling like the words on a page are moving around or blurred
- Difficulty completing written tasks, poor handwriting and writing slowly
- Finding it hard to learn sequences, like months of the year
- Struggling to follow instructions
- Difficulties telling the time, bad timekeeping and problems remembering days of the week
- Can be easily distracted and use avoidance techniques rather than working
Dyslexia symptoms for secondary school children and adults
Additional symptoms in this age group can include:
- Appearing knowledgeable about a subject but not being able to express this through writing
- Problems studying for exams, essays or reports
- Avoiding reading and writing whenever possible
- Struggling to meet deadlines
- Difficulties remembering a list of instructions
- Being disorganised and forgetful in daily life
If your child shows difficulties with reading and writing, the first step is to talk to their teacher. If you both agree that there are obvious problems, it’s a good idea to speak to a doctor. They will be able to check their health for underlying issues, like hearing or eyesight, that might be at the root of the problem.
Once any underlying health problems have been ruled out, you can talk to your child’s school about what specialist educational support they can offer. This is given through the school’s special educational needs coordinator (SENCo).
If your child continues to have difficulties, you can request that your child is referred for an in-depth dyslexia assessment. This will be carried out by an educational psychologist (EP) or a dyslexia specialist.
The dyslexia assessment might include:
- a pre-assessment questionnaire sent to you and your child’s school
- observing your child at school
- talking to teachers
- tests to assess reading and writing skills, memory, vocabulary, language developments, processing skills and organisational skills
Dyslexia support and interventions
- After the assessment, you’ll receive a report covering your child’s strengths and weaknesses, with suggestions of how to improve the areas they’re struggling with.
- There’s a range of support and interventions available if your child is diagnosed with dyslexia, depending on how severe it is and what they need the most help with.
- Many children receive all the support they need through SENCO services in their school. An individual action plan will be drawn up for your child, which may include one-to-one support and small group work.
How to obtain a referral/assessment?
Most schools in Surrey should be able to carry out a Dyslexia screening which will give parents an indicator of whether a child has Dyslexia. Schools can then implement provisions from their SEN core offer in order to support a child’s special educational needs. However, a school cannot formally diagnose.
For a diagnostic assessment parents should go to Helen Arkell Dyslexia Support From The Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre
Alternatively parents can look on the British dyslexia association’s website British Dyslexia Association (bdadyslexia.org.uk)
Even without a formal diagnosis the school should be able to recognise the additional needs and implement any provisions that may be required.
The following link is for Surrey County Councils Dyslexia policy which can be useful to parents of children with concerns of Dyslexia or with formal diagnosis Microsoft Word – Surrey County Council policy for dyslexia.doc (surreycc.gov.uk)
Below are some of the teams in Surrey who may be able to offer parents and schools advice on how to support a child or young person with Dyslexia:
- The Physical and Sensory Support Service (PSS) –
- The professional lead for Surrey Communication and Assistive Technology (SCAT) is Vicky Healy – (Specialist Speech and Language Therapist)
Telephone: 01372 832427
Based at: North East Area Office, Fairmount House, Bull Hill, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 7AH
General enquiries: 01372 833409
- Another service could be the Specialist Teachers for Inclusive Practice (STIP) team. This is a bought in service that would offer and advice and training on whole school approached to inclusive practices. You can find out more information from their website –