Do I have Dyslexia? … and what can I do about it?

Struggling with Literacy?

Have you ever wondered “Do I have Dyslexia?” Well Dyslexia is a persistent difficulty with literacy.[1] It is a neurological condition of genetic or sensory origin, which undermines the mastery of written language. The condition is sometimes referred to as word blindness, specific language-based disability, developmental dyslexia or mirror reading. Dyslexia is so much more than letter reversals.

Dyslexia is a struggle to master aspects of written language (reading, spelling or writing), in those of at least normal intelligence. Dyslexics often have average to well above average intelligence with high verbal skills. They can be good at compensating and they may excel in visual tasks. Sometimes they are able to learn the word shapes but cannot sound out a new word.

The British Dyslexia Association described dyslexia as “A complex neurological condition …, which may also affect numeracy, notational skills (music), motor function and organisational skills. However, it is centrally about poor mastery of written language.”

Because dyslexic students tend to be bright, dyslexia is often unrecognised by teachers or parents and remains largely untreated. A study of nearly 500,000 students in Florida found that less than 20% of students with a reading impairment were identified as learning disabled by their schools.”[2] Many Dyslexics are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD. These are two very different conditions, and should be addressed differently.

Do I have Dyslexia? Here are some of the key symptoms to help you decide

  • Slow reading, low reading comprehension, reading below age level but otherwise appears bright
  • May be verbally fluent but has difficulty expressing thoughts in writing
  • Acoustic confusion – kick/tick car/tar or dad/bad/sad
  • Inaccurate spelling
  • Confusion about directions in space or time (right/left, up/down, months/days R/L handedness)
  • Low awareness word sounds and a difficulty spelling (encoding words)
  • Weak listening, incomplete auditory comprehension, auditory processing issues
  • Visual-spatial learner as a young child, daydreamer
  • Weak balance and symbol confusion ­– bdpq & sometimes g; mw; nu; 69
  • Vision issues – letters move on the page, weak tracking, lose place on page, unclear, eyes sore
  • Poor sequencing of numbers or letters in words when read or written, e.g.: sing-sign; 12-21
  • Anxiety, low self esteem and depression are common (particularly if bright or adult)

Dyslexia does not disappear when you grow up

Research shows that if untreated, the effects of dyslexia persist into adulthood and continue to undermine literacy and even everyday life.[3]

Is there a reliable test for dyslexia?

No, not yet. But there are tests, which can eliminate other possible causes of weak literacy. If you have a bright student who is struggling with written language, then its probably dyslexia. Increasingly educationalists are describing dyslexia as a “language based learning disability or difference.”

Do I have dyslexia? – what should you do if I suspect YES?

Seek a sensory assessment to identify the underlying causes of the dyslexia.

Then decide whether you wish to work on the cause or the symptoms.

Sensory solutions target the causes

There is a wide choice of programs, which are designed to rebuild and strengthen sensory capacity. They target auditory, motor, balance and visual processing. These programs address the sensory causes of dyslexia; examples include Integrated Listening, Behavioural Optometry, Occupational Therapy and Extra Lesson programs.

Other solutions can be less efficient if they target the symptoms

Dyslexia can be resistant to traditional teaching or regular tutoring because the causes are sensory. Those with dyslexia learn differently and need to be taught and placed differently. While some schools offer special programs for slow readers, only a handful specialise in students with the sensory issues that underlie dyslexia. Examples are the Gow School in New York State and the Heritage Academy in Canada.

Persistent until you find a solution

So if you know someone who struggles with literacy and homework but is otherwise smart, then I encourage you to investigate why they find written so hard until you find a solution. There are effective solutions; you just have to find them.

My top tips if you are struggling with Literacy:

  • Check you Auditory Processing
  • Check your Vision
  • Check your Balance

If you would like to take the next step with Harry Armytage, complete the listening scorecard here


  1. [1] Australian Dyslexia Association
  2. [2] Quinn, J., & Wagner, R. (2013). Gender differences in reading impairment and in the identification of Impaired Readers: Results from a large-scale Study of at-risk readers. Journal of Learning Disabilities, XX(X) 1–13. DOI: 10.1177/0022219413508323
  3. [3] Dyslexic students have more everyday cognitive lapses James Smith‐Spark, Angela Fawcett , Roderick Nicolson , John Fisk Memory Vol. 12, Iss. 2, 2004

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