Assessment of dyslexia

Dyslexia and its impact on learning

It is not possible here to give a detailed account of the nature of dyslexia. Readers are recommended to consult Reid (2016).

In 2007, the British Dyslexia Association adopted the following definition of dyslexia:

“Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills. It is likely to be present at birth and to be life-long in its effects. It is characterised by difficulties with phonological processing, rapid naming, working memory, processing speed, and the automatic development of skills that may not match up to an individual’s other cognitive abilities. It tends to be resistant to conventional teaching methods, but its effect can be mitigated by appropriately specific intervention, including the application of information technology and supportive counselling.”

Dyslexia is a variable condition and not all students with dyslexia will display the same range of difficulties or characteristics. Nevertheless, the following characteristics have been the most widely noted 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 1994; Rack, 1997). 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 affect the acquisition of phonic skills in reading and spelling so that unfamiliar words are frequently misread, 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, 1995; 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).

LASS 8-11 profiles and dyslexia

The chapters that follow show how LASS 8–11 profiles can be used to identify dyslexia. LASS 8–11 will be at its most effective in identifying students with the ‘classic’ form of dyslexia – which includes by far the majority of the group – characterised by cognitive difficulties that most notably affect the mapping of graphemes on to phonemes. However, as LASS 8–11 includes a measure of visual memory, it is also adept at picking up ‘atypical’ cases of dyslexia where, instead of phonological deficits predominating, the chief problem concerns visual memory.