Well-compensated dyslexia


Duncan is a boy aged 15 years 3 months. He was regarded by his teachers as a bright and very well-motivated student, but of late there had been serious concern about his failure to live up to expectations in examinations. There was a suspicion that perhaps he had lost interest in his school work and was devoting rather too much time to sporting activities. He was assessed on LASS 11-15, and the results are shown in Figure 8. 

Figure 8. Duncan – a case of well-compensated dyslexia

Interpretation of LASS 11-15 results

The results of LASS confirmed the teachers’ view that Duncan is bright, and his literacy skills are commensurate with expectations. However, a surprising discovery was that his memory skills were very poor (Cave: centile 8, and Mobile: centile 12), which put his difficulties with examinations in a new light. Clearly, Duncan was having problems in recalling material in examinations, and was getting low marks as a result. A further discovery was that his phonic skills were below expected levels (Nonwords: centile 35), and he also showed rather poor phonological processing ability (Segments: centile 26). The special needs co-ordinator thought that Duncan’s profile looked suspiciously like dyslexia, and his parents immediately had him assessed by an educational psychologist. A diagnosis of dyslexia was confirmed, with the comment that Duncan was ‘extremely well-compensated’. It transpired that Duncan’s grandmother had been a primary school teacher and she had taught him to read as well as supporting him in his literacy development throughout the primary stage. Consequently, Duncan’s dyslexic difficulties had been masked, firstly by having received exceptionally good one-to-one tuition in literacy, and secondly, by his very good work habits and personal application. 

Educational recommendations

Because of his dyslexia, Duncan was granted additional time in examinations, which helped him somewhat. The most significant strategy, however, was to teach him to convert his revision notes and other material to be learned for examinations into mind maps, using the program Inspiration. This enabled him to develop a clear and logical visual structure for each topic, which he could review frequently and test himself on. As a result his performance in examinations improved significantly.