Developmental dyslexia (reading disability) is a specific impairment in learning to read that affects 3–6% of school children in English-speaking countries. It is overrepresented in clinical populations referred to child and adolescent mental health services because of its high comorbidity with conduct disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and other developmental disorders. Clinicians may fail to identify it unless they maintain a high degree of awareness and make specific inquiries. A three-stage approach (routine screening, in-depth examination and referral for further testing) is described. The features of dyslexia and the clues to its diagnosis are discussed. A number of simple tests for identifying it are available and familiarity with these should improve diagnostic accuracy. In addition to treating psychiatric comorbidity, the clinician can help the child by working with educational professionals to ensure that educational needs are met. Evidence-based early interventions are available. Later reading interventions improve reading but rarely bring about normalisation.
- © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2010