Kris Ventris-Field
Dyslexia Specialist
Education and Training Consultant
Gloucestershire Monmouthshire Herefordshire

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What’s it all about? ADHD? Dyslexia? Dyspraxia? Speech and Language Impairment?
Autistic Spectrum Disorder? Dyscalculia?

Oops – my blog is slightly later than planned and I’m beginning to think it’s catching – the memory problems that is – or is it just my age?

So, a week later than promised – I want to just try and simplify or explain a bit about these different conditions and the overlaps that occur.

70% of poor readers/people with dyslexia have co-occurring learning difficulties or differences, as I prefer to think of them. This means that anyone assessing an individual for dyslexia – child or adult – needs to be looking out for those overlaps, as it’s important to work with the whole person rather than working with ‘a condition’.

It’s useful for parents and others coming into contact with a person with these conditions through education and employment to have a basic awareness of the differences, so they can offer guidance and support and can treat people fairly – making reasonable adjustments when necessary.

As an assessor – I try to keep up with the latest research and thinking, so I can make the best possible judgements when I’m carrying out an assessment, so I can offer the most appropriate support and guidance to an individual, parents or partners, teachers, trainers and employers.

As dyslexia alone is the exception rather than the rule, let’s take a quick look at possible co-existing conditions.The most common conditions are:

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) or Dyspraxia: Affects spatial skills, fine and gross motor skills and balance often leading to other health issues and a very low self esteem.
Dyscalculia: Affects learning of numbers, symbols and basic maths concepts, including time.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): One of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders possibly caused by an imbalance of chemicals that regulate how the brain controls behaviour. Can lead to impulsive, erratic and unpredictable behaviour.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Autism and Asperger Syndrome are both part of a range of related developmental disorders known as autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). ASD affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. Symptoms can be grouped into three categories:
problems and difficulties with social interaction – including lack of understanding and awareness of other people's emotions and feelings
impaired language and communication skills – including delayed language development and an inability to start conversations or take part in them properly
unusual patterns of thought and physical behaviour – including making repetitive physical movements, such as hand tapping or twisting (the child develops set routines of behaviour and can get upset if the routines are broken)
Visual Stress (sometimes referred to as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome or Meares Irlen Syndrome) – affects those with and without dyslexia, but is a common characteristic in visual dyslexia. Visual disturbance which can sometimes be ‘settled’ with use of coloured filters or lenses.

Some people are averse to ‘labels’, but early diagnosis of these conditions can lead to early intervention and support, which in turn can reduce negative impact and frustration.

A bit heavy huh? Well all you really need to know is that a person with dyslexia cannot be put neatly in a box. These overlaps mean their profile is unique and should be treated as such.

Right – off my soap box and see you next week for a look at how dyslexia runs in families.

Kris Ventris-Field Education and Training Consultant, Dyslexia Specialist
Telephone: 01594 563 361 Mobile: 07771 962 426 Email:


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