What are the signs of dyslexia, and what help is out there? We look at the effects of dyslexia…

I come to writing this article only five days after taking my 9 year-old-son to a dyslexia assessment. From the age of four, we noticed there were early signs, such as problems with learning phonics, confusion over letters, and delayed speech development. I was relieved to hear after many years of struggling at school with reading and writing, that he finally has a dyslexia diagnosis, and as a result will (hopefully) navigate the world a bit more easily. It’s also tinged with knowing that he will always find certain aspects of learning difficult.

If you’re concerned you or your child may be dyslexic, let’s delve deeper, finding out more about the signs and the support out there.

What are the signs of being dyslexic?

The are a variety of issues that a dyslexic person may come up against, and these will manifest in different ways depending on age and circumstances. For example, a young child may find it difficult to understand the concept of rhyming or learn the letters of the alphabet. A primary school child may make mistakes when reading or struggle to learn days of the week. A teenager may find writing essays difficult or struggle to remember phone numbers. And an adult may find it difficult to remember certain dates or make plans for the future. But each individual will experience difficulties (and strengths) in a way that is specific to them.

When considering whether to look into your concerns any further, there are some common symptoms across age groups to watch out for. Some dyslexic people may find it difficult to:

  • follow sequences or instructions
  • concentrate (especially if there are distractions)
  • read, write, and spell
  • remember or retrieve certain words
  • plan ahead and meet deadlines
If you wanted to find out more, The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) have a list of common signs of dyslexia according to age group.

What are the 4 types of dyslexia?

There are no official diagnostic types of dyslexia, but it is now thought there are four new classifications based on symptoms including:

  1. Phonological dyslexia: Difficulty processing sounds of letters and syllables.
  2. Surface dyslexia: Difficulty recognising, learning, and memorising words.
  3. Rapid naming deficit: Difficulty naming a letter, number, colour, or object with speed.
  4. Double deficit dyslexia: Difficulties in both phonological process and naming speed.

In this video, psychotherapist Elle Mead explains how counselling can help parents of children with learning difficulties to help guide them toward better emotional and social well-being.

Is dyslexia a learning disability?

No, dyslexia is not a learning disability.

Learning disabilities affect a person’s intellectual ability. People with learning disabilities often require support to learn new skills, such as household chores. Someone can have both a learning difficulty and a learning disability, but they are not the same.

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty affecting approximately 10% of the UK population. According to the BDA, “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.”

Is dyslexia a form of ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is another type of learning difficulty. It is a condition that makes people feel hyperactive and restless. Other types of learning difficulties are dyspraxia and dyscalculia.

If you’re seeking a dyslexia assessment, please get in touch with your local dyslexia association for further support. If you think your child may have dyslexia, it is best to talk with their teacher or the school’s special educational needs coordinator (SENCO).

What are the emotional effects of dyslexia?

We as a family feel lucky that my son has a dyslexia diagnosis so early in his life, but for some, a diagnosis comes much later. It can feel especially exasperating for some dyslexic people to realise that their difficulties have gone unrecognised and that their lives could have been much different.

In her article, The human cost of dyslexia Counselling Directory member Pennie Aston (MSc NCS Senior Acc) talks about the mix of feelings that a dyslexic person can feel when receiving a diagnosis later in their life.

Dyslexic people can be devastated when they receive an evaluation of dyslexia. It needs a tender heart and skill to appreciate the all-pervading sense of fragmentation of the self that can occur.

Pennie also talks about the lack of confidence that dyslexic people can experience. After all, we live in a society where many of the aspects that dyslexic people struggle with are not only valued but celebrated!

"It is hard for a person to continue feeling positive about themselves when they are constantly feeling tripped up, frustrated and shamed by perplexing inefficiencies."

Counselling for dyslexia

Dyslexia can impact someone’s emotional wellbeing, affecting self-esteem, relationships, and anxiety levels. If you’re a parent of a child who is struggling with the emotional repercussions of dyslexia, your child may find a welcome and safe space to work through their struggles helpful.

If you’re a dyslexic adult looking for support, speaking to a professional trained in dyslexia counselling can help you understand your emotions better, and give you the coping skills to overcome life’s hurdles more easily.