The following working definition of dyslexia has been produced by the Scottish Government in collaboration with a range of stakeholders including Dyslexia Scotland.

They are at pains to point out that this is one of many definitions available which may be used and the aim of this particular working definition is to provide a description of the range of indicators and characteristics of dyslexia as helpful guidance for educational practitioners, pupils, parents/carers and others. This definition does not have any statutory basis.

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 that are effective for the majority of learners. These difficulties may not be typical of an individual’s performance in other areas.

Ranging from mild to severe, there may be associated difficulties in areas such as:

·       auditory and /or visual processing of language-based information;

·       phonological awareness;

·       oral language skills;

·       short-term and working memory;

·       sequencing;

·       number skills;

·       organisational ability.

Motor skills and co-ordination may also be affected.

Dyslexia exists in all cultures and across the range of abilities and socio-economic backgrounds. It is a life-long condition which is generally considered to be hereditary.

Graham Stringer quotes  Julian Elliot in his misguided article on Wednesday, saying that there are around 28 definitions of dyslexia available.

The one that we use in my region (as in many others) is as follows:


Dyslexia is evident when accurate and fluent word reading and/or spelling develops very incompletely or with great difficulty.


This focuses on literacy learning at the “word” level – i.e. persistent difficulty with letter sounds, blending, syllabification and rhyme – and implies that the problem is severe and persistent despite appropriate learning opportunities.  It provides the basis for a staged process of assessment through teaching.


This definition logically requires that three aspects be evaluated through the assessment process:


1.    that the pupil is learning/has learnt accurate and fluent word reading and or spelling very incompletely;

2.    that appropriate learning opportunities have been provided;

3.    that progress has been made only as a result of much additional effort and instruction and that difficulties have, nevertheless, persisted.


Report by a Working Party of the Division of Educational and Child Psychology – Dyslexia, Literacy and Psychological Assessment (1999)