What is Dyslexia?

Literacy difficulties exist along a spectrum, which can make them difficult to pin down. Precise definitions of dyslexia are changing all the time, but a number of common characteristics have been agreed. Those with dyslexia struggle to break down words into their smallest constituent parts, making language learning an often difficult process. Dyslexia runs in families and frequently co-occurs with difficulties in other skills, including organisation, calculation and concentration. 

The Rose definition

In 2008, the Labour government tasked Sir Jim Rose with investigating how to improve provision for dyslexic children. The Rose Report that followed provides a widely-accepted definition:

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. Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities. It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points. Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia.

(Rose Report, p. 10)

Dyslexia organisations

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The ADO provides a range of support services for dyslexia persons. It is run by and for dyslexic persons in the UK


The Miles Dyslexia Centre, formerly the Bangor Dyslexia Unit, was founded by Tim and Elaine Miles in 1977


The BDA was founded in 1972 and is was one of the largest and most well-known organisations dedicated to advocating for dyslexic persons


Dyslexia Action was formed in 2005 by the merger of the Dyslexia Institute and the Hornsby International Dyslexia Centre


The EDA is an umbrella organisation for national and regional dyslexia assocations, working with children, parents, professionals and academic researchers


The Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre was founded by Arkell, Joy Pollock and Elisabeth Waller in 1971


The IDA was formerly known as the Orton Society, founded by the pioneering work of Samuel Orton in the first half of the twentieth century. It was formalised in 1949


Maggie discusses dyslexia


More information about dyslexia

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Barrington Stoke is a children's book publisher founded by Patience Thomson and Lucy Juckes especially for children with dyslexia


This is the NHS webpage on dyslexia, which describes its symptoms and highlights ways to get help


The Dyslexic Library - 'Information curated by and for dyslexics, and the people who love them'


Founded by dyslexic novelist, Sally Gardner, 'NUword aims to open up a universal debate about dyslexia. Championing positive reinforcement from the point of diagnosis'