Dyslexia is a broad term defining a learning disability that impairs a person's ability to read,and which can manifest itself as a difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, orthographic coding, auditory working memory, and/or rapid naming.

Early Identification

About one in five children will experience some level of difficulty learning to read. These reading difficulties will be inherently different in severity (a mild to severe continuum). Also the child's temperament and external circumstances interact with the difficulty.

Obviously it's unhelpful for any child to experience early failure with this most central skill. For some its such a damaging blow to self concept and self esteem that a mild or medium difficulty can become a very significant problem with far-reaching consequences Download 1.  Although people like to reserve the term dyslexia for more severe difficulties, actually the word only means a difficulty with reading.

Dyslexia is a label and most people do not want to label young children, but all major research studies show that fears about labelling (or any other issues) should not prevent prompt and early action (identification of children who can be called “at-risk” for reading difficulties so as to receive timely help before they fail). The tests that will identify are now easily available. Research studies also show that systematic early intervention (following identification) involving training children's phonological skills is highly effective for most, and the benefits last (becoming a good basis for acquiring more advanced reading skills). Download 2

Two kinds of studies (Download 3 | Download 4) have provided knowledge about reading difficulties (incidence and effective teaching): those that measure skills and the effects of extra teaching and those that use brain imaging.  

Research has found that common wisdom among parents about helping children who are learning to read is not necessarily accurate. Download 5

Download 6 Phonological awareness activities for pre-school children and beginning readers are extremely valuable.

Does early identification and intervention happen systematically everywhere? No