Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder that is neurological in origin, meaning that it is brain-based. It is characterised by difficulties with accurate and fluent word reading and by poor spelling and decoding abilities that do not progress as expected with the provision of well-intentioned and targeted intervention.

When children are unable to read and spell with high levels of accuracy, they are more likely to experience problems in reading comprehension. Difficulties with reading can restrict the development of vocabulary and background knowledge.

It is now well recognised that dyslexia is commonly associated with phonological awareness and processing difficulties. In simple terms, this refers to the ability to hear and manipulate the separate sounds (phonemes) within words. Although such difficulties can be detected orally at an early age, they are frequently overlooked and the problem becomes most apparent when the child struggles to learn to read in the early years of schooling. In the reading process, lack of phonological awareness skills leads to difficulty recognising that sounds can be represented by letters or groups of letters within written words (often called Phonics at school).

It is also now accepted that there is a strong hereditary component in dyslexia – that is, it runs in families. In previous years, Dyslexia was thought to affect far more boys than girls, but recent research tends to show that it is more evenly distributed. It appears that it is more noticeable in boys in the classroom situation, which leads to earlier and more frequent identification.

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