How do I know if I have a dyslexic pupil in my class?
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information for teachers
A recent NUT survey found that only 14 per cent of teachers feel
confident about recognising dyslexia and 77 per cent said they
would like training in this area.
Dyslexia is often described as a hidden disability, as
it is not always obvious that a child is dyslexic, particularly in
the case of bright children who have developed coping
Below you will find a checklist that may be helpful when
identifying children with difficulties in the classroom. Not every
dyslexic child will exhibit all of the following, but if the answer
to the majority of the following questions is 'yes', then you would
be wise to discuss the results further with the child's
(The pupil is referred to as 'she' for ease)
For primary aged children:
- Is she struggling to learn to alphabet and the sounds of each
letter or to master how to break words down into units of
- Does she confuse, for example, 'b' and 'd' or '9' and '6'?
- Does she confuse names or objects or use Spoonerisms e.g. par
- Have you noticed that she has difficulties with rhyming, e.g.
- Does she have difficulties learning times tables, days of the
week or months of the year?
- Is she struggling to learn to tell the time?
- Is she struggling to write letters?
For secondary aged children
- Does her performance, particularly seen in her written work or
exam results, fail to reflect her ability?
- Does she find it hard to organise her thoughts or construct
arguments in written format and/or spoken words?
- Is she always late to hand in essays and assignments?
- Does she struggle with mental arithmetic?
- Is she finding learning a foreign language difficult?
- Is she finding revision hard - finding it difficult to retain
factual information and confusing detail?
- Does she have difficulty taking notes?
- Does she turn up to lessons unprepared or with the wrong
Common for all ages
- Does she excel in some ways but unexpectedly struggles in
others or appears to have 'a block'?
- Does she have difficulties with spelling and/or spells the same
word in a variety of ways?
- Is she struggling to read unfamiliar words and lacks the
ability to break words down into units of sound; is her reading
- Does she appear to make careless mistakes?
- Does she make unexpected errors when reading aloud, miss words
out, read the wrong word or lack automatically when reading?
- Does she have slow/or poor handwriting for her age?
- Is she unable to remember a list of instructions and/or appears
to be very forgetful?
- Does she have difficulty copying from the blackboard?
- Do you notice that she puts a lot of effort in with little to
show for it?
- Is her concentration poor and/or does she tire easily?
- Does she seem disorganised?
- Does she confuse left and right?
- Is she the classroom clown or is she shy and lacking in
confidence or does she exhibit bad behaviours and get very
- Has she developed work avoidance tactics and/or does she truant
- Does she suffer unduly from stress and/or anxiety?
- Does a family member have similar difficulties or is he/she
known to be dyslexic?
Full diagnostic assessment
- If you suspect that a pupil is dyslexic then it is very
important that this is recognised so that the most appropriate
programme of support can be identified. Normally, confirmation of a
specific learning difficulty is through a diagnostic assessment
with a recognised educational psychologist or specially trained
In addition there are screeners that teachers can use to help
identify those at high risk for confirmation or whether a full
investigation through an assessment is required. Two good
computer-based products are the Dyslexic Screener and the