Dyslexia is a complex and variable condition. You are advised to consult Reid (2016) and the British Dyslexia Association for appropriate definitions.
Not all students with dyslexia will display the same range of difficulties or characteristics. Nevertheless, there are some widely noted characteristics in connection with dyslexia:
- A marked inefficiency in the working or short-term memory system (Beech, 1997; Gathercole et al., 2006; Jeffries and Everatt, 2004; McLoughlin, Fitzgibbon and Young 1993; Rack, 1997; Thomson, 2001). Memory difficulties may result in problems of retaining the meaning of text (especially when reading at speed), failure to marshal learned facts effectively in examinations, disjointed written work or an omission of words and phrases in written examinations, because students have lost track of what they are trying to express.
- Inadequate phonological processing abilities, which affects the acquisition of phonic skills in reading and spelling so that unfamiliar words are frequently misread, which may in turn affect comprehension. Not only has it been clearly established that phonological processing difficulties are seen in the majority of children with dyslexia (Snowling, 2000; Catts et al., 2005), but research has also indicated that this occurs in many adults with dyslexia (Beaton, McDougall and Singleton, 1997a; Ramus et al., 2003).
The rationale behind CoPS is the identification of cognitive precursors of dyslexia and other problems in the development of literacy and numeracy, which the teacher can use (together with other information about the student) to formulate flexible intervention strategies with which to tackle the problems before they precipitate outright failure (see Singleton, 2002, 2003). This is entirely consistent with the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0-25 years (2014) which stresses the importance of early identification of special education needs.