Everyday I chat with mums who tell me “I think my child has dyslexia”. The great news is that most mums I chat with who believe their child has dyslexia actually have something different… Something that appears to be dyslexia but is much easier to solve.

There are 3 possible scenarios that could be happening if you believe your child has dyslexia, and this video will help you decide what’s happening for your child.

Here are the possible scenarios of what could be happening to your child:

Scenario 1: Irlen Syndrome

Your child has Irlen Syndrome (also known as Scotopic Sensitivity). This is NOT actually phonological dyslexia, but it really looks like it and has a lot of similar symptoms when children read. Parents usually refer to this as dyslexia but it’s dealt with in a very different way.

For children with Irlen syndrome, the words are not staying still on white paper when they look at them.

The words may be moving or wriggling or slightly wobbling or they could even be fading from the page. Now, the real problem with this is that in our culture most things are printed on white paper.

To informally check your child, have them stare at a page of text printed on white paper and ask them what the words are doing on the page. If they tell you something other than “The words are staying still… What’s wrong with you, Mum?” Then your child is probably dealing with Irlen Syndrome. It’s important to be aware that kids with this issue are very easy to help. You can start by changing the background colour of the page your child reads and writes on.

Scenario 2: Phonological Dyslexia

With Phonological Dyslexia (also called Auditory Dyslexia), the words are not moving at all on the page. The words stay completely still but when the child sees the words, their brain is slow to recognise what sounds the letters represent.

This is really difficult for kids in school because it slows them down when they read or write and it makes school very hard and very tiring.

Children with Phonological Dyslexia will struggle to spell and will make many reading errors when they read. They will be pulling words out of their “sight word memory bank” in their brains rather than decoding the word in the way that most kids do. So that means that if a word is outside of familiar, frequently used words to them, they’re going to struggle to read them.

A quick, informal test for phonological dyslexia is to ask your child questions like this:

  • “If I have the word “BLACK” and I take the “L” out, what word would I have?
  • “If I have the word “BLADE” and I put an “M” where the “D” is, what word would I have?

Children with Phonological Dyslexia really struggle to pull words apart and put them back together, so if your child needs to think for a long time on questions like this, that can indicate Phonological Dyslexia.

Another quick check is to ask your child to read words that you’ve just made up, such as:

  • Trejivope
  • Rasdoper
  • Spliterstime

Kids with phonological dyslexia will really struggle with reading words like this, because they are used to recognising entire words but have trouble sounding out pieces of words.

Scenario 3: It’s something else… neither scotopic sensitivity nor phonological dyslexia

There are so many other reasons why a child could be struggling but the first place to check would be to have the child do an eyesight test. It could be the most important thing you do this week.

Another test worth doing is a hearing test, particularly for younger children who can have grommet issues. Now so many kids who struggle with their literacy are actually in that situation because they spent years struggling to hear all the words people have said or all the sounds within words.

So it’s helpful for kids to get a hearing test, particularly if they are younger because that can have such an impact on their learning.

Don’t just wait for things to improve… you need to take action.

There are plenty of other possibilities for why a child might struggle in reading, so parents, let’s not jump to conclusions.

What is always true is that changes won’t happen unless they are driven by parents and teachers. Don’t just take the “Wait and See” approach because it never ever works. Be proactive and help your child get what they need to get back on track at school.

This video below explains EVERYTHING you’d ever wondered about dyslexia:

Have you been through anything like this with your children? Please share your experience below in the comments.

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  • This article is very helpful, my daughter is 8 & still struggles with b & d… I might book an appointment with optometrist but I’m also wondering about auditory dyslexia after reading this.


  • Gosh this must be so tough to deal with. I understand how children would think they were dumb of all the other kids could read and they couldnt. It would be such a relief to understand that there is a reason why.


  • The video is a nice clear explanation.


  • I thought my son had Dyslexia after lots of assessments turned out he has autism, adhd and oppositional defiance disorder.
    With some academic intervention we were able to get him back on track with his reading and writing.


  • Thank you for sharing that.


  • Something for me to remember in a few years time.


  • Sometimes I feel like I’m dyslexic especially with numbers


  • I haven’t been through this but this was interesting and very informative.


  • A very interesting article. Whilst I’ve heard of dyslexia and have recently learned of a couple of adults who have it, the other conditions were new to me.


  • I was always told that my youngest had dyslexia but it turned out he has a mild form of autism and hearing problems. He had grommets done twice in both ears which helped a lot with his reading. With the autism side of things, he just does everything like a bull at a gate and never remembers where things go after he’s used them. I’d say considering how things could have been, he’s one of the lucky ones.


  • This is made more difficult by the fact you’re often dealing with fairly young kids who don’t know how to communicate their experience.


  • My Husband was told he was dyslexic in school but apart from not being the world’s best spellers he doesn’t seem to have it. Hard to know for sure sometimes


  • I’ve done a lot of assessments of kids who’s parents or school think they have dyslexia. Sometimes it could be (I can’t diagnose dyslexia), but other times it is a language disorder, which is more common than people realise but not many know about it.


  • I haven’t been through anything like this yet but it’s good to understand the differences incase I do.


  • Very interesting and not something I would’ve thought about.


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