Helpful Information

We have provided some useful information, resources, videos and links below, however if you are concerned or have pressing questions please call Act On Dyslexia on 07735 458149 or email us via the ‘Contact Us’ Page

Resources and information

About Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a term used to define a pattern of specific learning difficulties which are not predicted by age or intelligence. These difficulties are thought to be genetic in origin, and affect the acquisition of reading, writing and spelling.

Dyslexia affects around 10% of the population, 4% severely. (British Dyslexia Association).

The word dyslexia comes from the Greek word “Dys”, which means “difficulty” and “lexia” meaning “words”. (Ott, 1997).

In 2008, the then, Secretary of State for Education invited Sir Jim Rose to carry out a review of Dyslexia. Information and current research was collected and collated leading to the culmination of a comprehensive report, ‘Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties.’

The following is a working/operational definition as this definition is supported and used by the Department for Education (DFE) and is endorsed by the British Dyslexia Association (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

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 of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well founded intervention

A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well-founded intervention

(Rose Review 2009, p30)
In addition to these characteristics, the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), acknowledges the visual and auditory processing difficulties that some individuals with dyslexia can experience and stresses the dyslexic reader can show a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process. Indeed, invariably there are those who can read fluently but have cognitive difficulties such as memory and processing. Some also have strengths in other areas, such as design, problem solving, creative skills, interactive skills and oral skills.

(British Dyslexia Association, 2009).
This definition shows that not all individuals will have the same indicators of dyslexia or experience them to the same degree

There are checklists of dyslexic indicators WESFORD 2 manual (2013). Indicators such as reading, spelling, writing, mathematics, language development are those we can directly observe and the “unseen” mental processes which are at the cognitive level such as speed of processing, memory, visual and auditory problems. (Ott, 2007). Frith (2002) describes the term “cognitive deficit” to mean we have ‘concluded there may be problems in the normal working of a mental component.’

Recent research has considered the causal theories of dyslexia. Here are some of the main theories.

   > The phonological deficit
   > The Magnocellular Deficit
   > The cerebellum deficit
   > Auditory Processing Disorder
   > Visual disorder

Uta Frith developed a theoretical framework which incorporates a shared framework where different theories could be expressed.

Frith (1999) Three Model Framework

Dyslexia definition

British Dyslexia Association (2009), BDA definition of Dyslexia Available at:

Frith: U. (1999) Paradoxes in the definition of dyslexia, Dyslexia: An International Journal of Research & Practice, Vol 5 (4), 192-214

Ott , P (1997) How to Manage and Detect Dyslexia: A reference and Resource Manual, Oxford: Heinneman

Rose, J, (2009) Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties: London: DFCS

Dyslexia as a Hidden Disability
Dyslexia affects the individual throughout the life-span, but its manifestations change with age, and may be disguised by the use of effective coping strategies. The brain functioning of dyslexic people is physiologically different from that of a non-dyslexic person; it is a hidden disability.

Dyslexic individuals may exhibit many strengths as well as weaknesses.
Very often people with dyslexia are highly intelligent, creative and successful. Famous people who have had symptoms of dyslexia include: Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Hans Christian Anderson, Winston Churchill and Richard Branson. Particular strengths may include:

> Excellent problem solving skills
> Strong visual-spatial skills: people with dyslexia often excel in subjects where these are demanded, such as architecture and engineering
> Artistic ability
> Holistic thinking

The term ‘Dyscalculia’ is used to describe specific learning difficulties with mathematics and in many ways can be seen as the mathematical equivalent of dyslexia. Dyscalculia translated literally means a ‘disorder in calculation,’ and has been defined by the DfES (2001) as ‘a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Dyscalculic learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers and have problems learning number facts and procedures. Even if they produce a correct answer or use a correct method, they may do so mechanically and without confidence.’  Research into dyscalculia is still in its early stages, but it has been estimated that dyscalculia affects roughly 4-6% of the population which equates to at least one child in any average classroom.

Indicators for Dyscalculia
Dyscalculic learners will often stand out as having no ‘feel for numbers,’ an inability to estimate even small quantities as well as difficulty recognizing whether an answer to an arithmetic problem is reasonable or not. Memory weaknesses, including both short-term and long-term memory can cause further difficulties, resulting in pupils unable to remember facts and procedures accurately, or consistently, even after many attempts to learn them by heart. Recall and remembering of times table facts reliably can cause further difficulties as well as solving multi-step problems involving more than two or three steps. Basic counting can also prove challenging, especially the skill of counting backwards. Dyscalculic learners, like all learners, need to be confident in counting properly, as ‘counting’ after all, is the foundation of all numeracy. Generally, it is agreed that mathematical competence depends on the effective functioning of

> Number Sense
> Visual Spatial Skills
> Language Skills
> Concentration
> Memory

Teaching Dyscalculic learners
Dyscalculia affects the ability to become numerate, and therefore, numeracy teaching will aim to help learners build a sound mathematical understanding of numbers and their relationships. Learning will involve working with a variety of concrete materials that provide practical experience and which also help to develop strong visual models. Once numerical concepts are understood at the concrete level, learners will gradually move towards more abstract and symbolic methods used in teaching higher level mathematics. With the appropriate instruction and carefully planned lessons targeting the needs of learners, pupils with dyscalculia should improve quickly in areas of difficulty and weakness.

All our lessons are taught using a structured, multi-sensory approach using a range of manipulatives and resources which encourage and support visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning. Lessons which incorporate all three learning styles have been known to be the most effective way to learn, not only motivating pupils but also giving them the confidence to succeed in mathematics.

Initial Assessments
Pupils are first assessed to ascertain numeracy knowledge and skills. Each assesment is carefully designed to highlight areas of strengths and weaknesses. Our aim is to gather information about a pupils’ numeracy competence and how they think about numbers. The results of the assessment are then used to plan individualised programmes of learning. A detailed report is available once the assesment is completed.

What is a disability?
The Equality Act (2010) defines a person as having a disability if: 
they have a physical or mental impairment
the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day-to-day activities 
In an educational setting the term disability refers to any impairment that has lasted or is likely to last for more than 12 months and which has a significant and sustained impact on an individuals’ ability to access and perform on an academic course. Normal day to day activities are taken to include everything from reading and writing to attending taught sessions.


As a parent or carer for a child with dyslexia, you will want to provide the best possible support. The SEN Code of Practice aims to provide an inclusive education in line with the Equality Act (2010).
Act on Dyslexia recommends that you consult with your child’s school regarding their intentions about how they are going to provide any support or intervention. If you consider that your child’s school has a good understanding of dyslexia and have adequate funding for providing your child with support, it may not be necessary to take any further action. However, there are occasions when you may need to take a more proactive approach in getting the support you may need. It is advisable to consult with your child’s school and inform them of any decisions you are thinking of as it will ultimately be the school that will implement any future action plan.

Children and Families Act (2014)
The Children and Families Act and the new SEND Code of Practice (2014) provides children with special educational needs the legal requirements and statutory guidance for young people from birth – 25 years of age.
As a result it brings together Health, Education and care into one plan
Statements have been replaced by a Health, Education and Care plan (EHC)

Basic Principles
All children have a right to an education that enables them to make progress
All children with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities should have their needs met
Local authorities should involve children and parents in their decisions about SEN support
Parents should have a real say in decisions that affect their children and know how to challenge decisions they disagree with

SEN Support
SEN support replaces school action and school action plus
It is part of the ‘graduated approach’
Any support a child gets should meet their needs
Those with complex needs may need an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan

Useful Links and Contacts

IPSEA Independent Parental Special Education Advice
Advice line: 0800 018 4016

There are an increasing number of online resources, including apps which greatly help students with a specific learning difficulty.

We aim to provide some of those we find most useful.

The following videos may be useful.

Dyslexia explained: What’s it like being dyslexic?


The following book can provide information and advice for parents:
Help! My child has Dyslexia, A Practical Guide for Parents by Judy Hornigold

Homework Tips

Homework can consolidate the learning carried out in the classroom. Recall is and overlearning is key for children and individuals with dyslexia. Memory difficulties can impinge on an individual’s ability to read, write and spell. Children with dyslexia may exhibit difficulties with storing and maintaining information. They can find homework a frustrating and difficult experience. It can be overwhelming if it takes a long time to complete and if they get in to a muddle because it is too complex and difficult to understand. Parents very often share the frustration and find it difficult to know how to support their children.

The most vivid and long-lasting methods tend to be sensory. These are:
Visual-pictures in the mind
Kinaesthetic-related to feeling or movement
Smell-remembering a particular smell can take us back to a moment in our lives

It is important to aim to establish a positive experience by:

Choosing a regular time set aside for homework- straight after school is a good time, having had a quick snack and setting down to it whilst still in ‘learning mode’
Ensure children have a quiet space, free from distraction-try to keep other siblings amused. They usually get to know this is not a time to interrupt
Breaking down tasks into small, manageable chunks
Allow breaks in between tasks
Ask your child to read out their homework and ask them to explain what they are required to do-this will ensure they understand what they are doing
ask your child to generate their ideas in writing using mind maps
ask your child to proof read all their work

Your child may also need support with organisation and study skills. Act on Dyslexia can also offer study skill for older children and individuals.