Definition of dyslexia

Agreeing on a common definition makes identifying and supporting people with dyslexia much simpler.

Scroll for more

Defining dyslexia

Finding a definition of dyslexia is simple. Finding one we all can agree on is challenging.

In January 2009, the Scottish Government, Dyslexia Scotland and the Cross Party Group on Dyslexia in the Scottish Parliament agreed on the following working definition:

'Dyslexia can be described as a continuum of difficulties in learning to read, write and/or spell, which persist despite the provision of appropriate learning opportunities. These difficulties often do not reflect an individual's cognitive abilities and may not be typical of performance in other areas.

The impact of dyslexia as a barrier to learning varies in degree according to the learning and teaching environment, as there are often associated difficulties such as:

  • auditory and /or visual processing of language-based information
  • phonological awareness
  • oral language skills and reading fluency
  • short-term and working memory
  • sequencing and directionality
  • number skills
  • organisational ability.

Dyslexia exists in all cultures and across the range of abilities and socio-economic backgrounds. It is a hereditary, life-long, neurodevelopmental condition.

Learners with dyslexia will benefit from early identification, appropriate intervention and targeted effective teaching, enabling them to become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.'

So, dyslexia can affect the way you communicate, and it’s different for everyone. Unidentified dyslexia can result in low self esteem, high stress and low achievement.

People with dyslexia will benefit from spotting it early, and with support can find ways to learn which suit them better.

Have a look at our What is dyslexia? leaflet.

If you think you might have dyslexia, you can get an assessment or get in touch for more advice.