Classic dyslexia

Background

Alwyn, a boy aged 13 years 10 months, was assessed on LASS because his teachers felt that he was not performing up to standard. He was regarded as average in general ability, but his written work was very poor. Alwyn also had a tendency to be disruptive in the classroom and was frequently on report for misbehaviour, failure to complete work or to hand in homework. He was clumsy, forgetful and slightly hyperactive. 

Figure 5. Alwyn – a case of classic dyslexia.

Interpretation of LASS 11-15 results

The LASS results show that Alwyn is clearly a very bright student (Reasoning: centile 92), with poor reading (Sentence Reading: centile 20; Single Word Reading: centile 2) and very poor Spelling (centile 10). There is a highly significant discrepancy between his literacy skills and his intellectual ability, which warrants use of the label ‘specific learning difficulties’. It is likely that teachers have underestimated his intelligence because of his poor literacy skills and failure to display his talents in writing. 

Alwyn has virtually no phonic decoding skills (Nonwords: centile 4), and so he is obviously relying on visual strategies to recognise words. Because he is bright he is able to apply intelligent guessing and use of context when reading for meaning, which is why his Sentence Reading module result (centile 20) is rather better than might be expected from his Single Word Reading score (centile 2).

Alwyn also displays a clear cognitive weakness in auditory memory (Mobile: centile 15) and his visual memory is also low in comparison with his intellectual ability (Cave: centile 23). Phonological abilities are also relatively low (Segments: centile 16). These findings of cognitive impairment justify the use of the term ‘dyslexia’ to describe his difficulties. In fact, his problems are fairly severe.

Educational recommendations

Alwyn’s dyslexia was subsequently confirmed by full psychological assessment. It then transpired that his father also had literacy difficulties and only a few months later (triggered by these revelations) his younger brother (age 9½) was also identified as having dyslexia. His parents reported that Alwyn had a very unhappy time at primary school, but it is not entirely clear why his difficulties were not picked up earlier in his education. In retrospect, it appears that his disruptive behaviour may have been an effect of his undiagnosed learning difficulties. The school immediately put Alwyn on the Special Educational Needs Register at Stage 3 and arranged for him to receive specialist tuition for his dyslexia twice a week using the scheme Alpha to Omega, backed up by daily computer practice using Wordshark4

As Alwyn is bright but has poor reading skills, a short but intensive programme of activities using Clicker5 would develop his confidence and skills. He could progress to WriteOnline and Co:Writer6, which would use his visual strengths to develop reading and spelling skills. Alternatively, ClaroRead or Read & Write would provide him with speech feedback to assist the development of his writing.