Specific reading difficulty is often referred to as dyslexia.  The word dyslexia is made up of two different parts: dys meaning not or difficult, and lexia meaning words, reading, or language.  (Catts & Kamhi, 2005).  It is the best known and studied form of specific learning difficulty.  

What is a specific reading difficulty (dyslexia)?  It is  a significant  delay in reading in a child of average or above average intelligence.  The delay in reading is caused by neurological factors, in other words, factors within the child's biological system and not by lack of exposure or emotional difficulties.  It is characterized by difficulty with accurate or fluent word recognition and poor spelling and decoding abilities.  Academic performance of learners with dyslexia is hampered by poor reading skills.  Subjects where a large amount of reading is not required are usually on par with the learners abilities and grade requirements.   

At what age can a specific reading difficulty (dyslexia) be detected?  At risk factors for a specific reading difficulty can be detected as early as pre-primary school.  At our practice, learners can be assessed for at risk factors from the age of 4 years 6 months.  A diagnosis of specific reading difficulty (dyslexia) can be made once formal reading has started (from 7 years). 

How is dyslexia diagnosed?  Diagnosis of dyslexia requires an in depth psycho-educational assessment.  The following factors are assessed and carefully interpreted to make a formal diagnosis of a reading difficulty (dyslexia):

  • cognitive strengths and weaknesses,
  • academic skills, developmental history,
  • functioning at school and home
  • level of attention
  • home and school circumstances.

In some instances, information from an audiologist and/or optometrist is required to determine the possible presence of physical barriers such as vision or hearing difficulty. 






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