Overview of the Dyslexia Checklist


Glynis Hannell has an Honours Degree in Psychology and an M.Sc in Child Development, both from London University. She has worked as a psychologist in Education Departments, Health Authorities and Child Development Units. She has developed a Dyslexia Checklist (Hannell, 2002) that is consistent with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). Hannell (2002, p.1) states that the checklist was developed by her in, ‘consultation with classroom teachers, special education teachers, psychologists, paediatricians, speech pathologists, child psychiatrists, parents and organisations’, dealing with the learning disability of dyslexia.


The checklist is designed to be used predominately by professionals working with children and adolescents (ages 4 – 18). Under the guidance of professionals the checklist can also be used by parents to record observations of their own child. Each checklist is divided into sub categories and will often result into information falling into distinct patterns. These patterns assist professionals understand the nature of the child’s suspected dyslexia (Hannell, 2002, p.1).


For each item that you feel applies to the child then that should be checked. Even if the item applies occasionally or to a mild degree, it should be recorded. This is because that many subtle symptoms can be very important to the overall diagnostic picture (Hannell, 2002, p.1).


Please remember that the checklist is not scored but the more items that are marked in a category then there is an increased likelihood that the child has some form of difficulty, disorder or special need. However it is essential to remember that many conditions have similar characteristics and that specialist assessment is necessary for formal diagnosis of dyslexia (Hannell, 2002, p.1). The purpose of the checklist for you as a teacher is to assist you to identify if a child in your class may have dyslexia. If a checklist indicates that a child may have dyslexia then specialist assessment and support should be recommended to the family/care givers of the child (DIRC, 2008).


The Dyslexia Checklist (Hannell, 2002, p. 9-10)


Student’s Name_________________________________              Date____________


Name of person completing checklist_____________________________________




□          Difficulties in learning to read, spell or write

□          School work does not reflect their true ability

□          School reports often say ‘could do better’

□          Results do not reflect the effort put in

□          A lot of good teacher input only produces small improvements


Memory difficulties


□          Difficulties in remembering instructions

□          Difficulties in learning basics e.g. letters and their sounds

□          Problems remembering words from one page to the next

□          Problems learning sequences eg multiplication tables

□          Can learn spelling for a test but forgets the words very rapidly

□          Gets the sequence of letters or numbers wrong e.g. 13 for 31, ‘on’ for ‘no’

□          Difficulties with arithmetic, uses fingers to count

□          Copies things down incorrectly

□          Makes the same error over and over again e.g. ‘whent’


Speech, phonological and language difficulties

□          Problems with ‘word finding’ when speaking

□          Problems pronouncing long words e.g. ‘hostipal’

□          Problems breaking words into sounds

□          Difficulties in blending sounds together

□          Difficulties in recognising or producing rhymes

□          Difficulties in recognising or producing alliteration (words all starting with the same sound)

□          Difficulties in learning phonics

□          Later than average in learning to talk

□          History of early ear infections

□          Written language is poorly structured


Difficulties in combining spoken and written language


□          Slow to learn the link between sounds and letters

□          Can spell a word verbally but cannot write it down

□          Difficulty in getting thoughts on paper

□          Written language has words missing (or extra words)

□          Reads words that are not there

□          Reading lacks fluency and speed


Visual Motor Difficulties


□          Slow to learn how to write

□          Poor bookwork, untidy, slow, messy

□          Mixes upper and lower case letters

□          Difficulties in working as fast as other students

□          Poor coordination, clumsy

□          Loses place when reading, uses finger to keep track

□          Letter and number reversals after the age of seven

□          Disliked puzzles and drawing as a younger child

□          Difficulties with sustained writing, hand gets tired very quickly

□          Poor posture, slumps on desk when working, fidgets sitting on the floor


Concentration Difficulties


□          Inattentive, in a daydream

□          Easily distracted

□          Diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder

□          Often restless and fidgety

□          Often impulsive, does not stop and think, calls out in class

□          Makes many careless errors

□          Cannot read for more than a short period of time

□          Poor organisation, often forgets books, equipment


Social and emotional difficulties


□          Low self esteem with regards to school work

□          Avoids learning tasks, ‘loses’ books, wastes time, ‘forgets’ homework

□          Does not expect to succeed so does not try

□          Gets frustrated and upset when effort does not produce good results

□          Reluctant to accept help, does not like to be different

□          Told to ‘try harder’ even when working very hard


Family History


□          Other family members have dyslexia or similar learning difficulties


Formal Diagnosis


Please remember that several other conditions have similar characteristics and specialist assessment is necessary for formal diagnosis.