What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a common specific learning difficulty, generally referring to difficulties in reading, writing and spelling.

  • According to the definition from the International Dyslexia Association in 2002, dyslexia is a learning difficulty that is neurobiological in origin and not caused by a poor learning environment.


  • Students with dyslexia have a regular learning experience and normal intelligence. However they encounter great difficulty in word recognition, which leads to problems in reading comprehension and writing.


  • In recent years, functional magnetic resonance imaging has provided neurobiological evidence for the causes of dyslexia (Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2005).


  • Some scholars have pointed out that a student’s dyslexic condition is not caused by one single problem, but by multiple cognitive impairments (Badian, 1997).


(Reference: Website of Hong Kong Specific Learning Difficulties Research Team)

  • The British Dyslexia Association pointed out in 2008 that primary school students with dyslexia often make spelling errors because they confusing words with similar glyphs and pronunciation.


  • Their muscle coordination is relatively poor, making it difficult to write, and there are often traces of correction in their homework.


  • In terms of reading, they are often reluctant to read articles out aloud, and it is easy for them to make pronunciation errors, or to skip words when reading. Hence they find it difficult to grasp the central idea and focus of the article.


(Reference: Website of Hong Kong Specific Learning Difficulties Research Team)

  • A study on dyslexia in Chinese language showed that impairment in phonological retrieval and orthographic awareness is most common in primary schoolchildren in Hong Kong (Ho, Chan, Tsang, & Lee, 2002; Ho, Chan, Lee, Tsang, & Luan, 2004).


  • Students with dyslexia have weaker working memory and are slower in information processing. As a result, their abilities in speech processing, visual and auditory cognition, concentration, left-right discrimination, sequencing and organization are also affected.


  • According to a study by the Research Team, the prevalence of dyslexia in Hong Kong is about 9.7% to 12.6%. About 6.2% to 8.7% of schoolchildren are mildly dyslexic, 2.2% to 2.3% are moderately dyslexic and 1.3% to 1.6% are severely dyslexic (Chan, Ho, Tsang, Lee & Chung, 2007).


(Reference: Website of Hong Kong Specific Learning Difficulties Research Team)

One Minute Dyslexia Quick Check

If you suspect that your child is at risk of dyslexia, you may want to review the following list of symptoms and see if he or she shares any of those characteristics.  A high score indicates that the child is likely to be at risk.  You can leave us your contact information and we shall get in touch to help you work out a best solution for your child.


Please also leave your email address if you would like to receive information from us. Thank you!

(checklist available in Chinese only)

Pathways' Kindergarten & Primary Screening Service

Service Target

Pre-school and primary school children aged 4 or above suspected of having dyslexia.


  1. To identify children at risk of dyslexia via screening tests.
  2. To provide advice on appropriate support services for the child and parents, based on the screening test results.


About 45 minutes


Please refer to service fees for details

Why should we take the Kindergarten & Primary Screening Service?

At the moment, it takes quite a long time for a child to wait for a full assessment on dyslexia to be conducted via the government or the school. During this period, the screening service from Pathways can help parents to have an initial understanding of their children’s literacy problems, and to arrange for early intervention if necessary.

We've taken the screening test. Why do we still need to undergo a comprehensive assessment?

The result from the screening test simply reflects the tendency of the child on being at risk of dyslexia, and is by no means a proper diagnosis. Parents who wish to apply for learning support at school will still have to submit diagnostic reports. Parents may consider to discuss with teachers and social workers for arranging a comprehensive assessment at school, or they can also take an assessment at private agencies. Assessment by the Clinical or Educational Psychology Support Service at Pathways can normally be arranged within one month.

(content in Chinese only)

To apply for the Kindergarten & Primary Screening Service, please call 2870 1377 / 3105 2311 for details.


Mr. Lowell Lo is a composer, singer, music producer, actor and environmentalist. Born in Hong Kong, he was educated in the United States. He composed more than 800 songs, scored more than 100 movies and won numerous awards. But in his younger days, dyslexia made learning very difficult for him. Later on, through the encouragement of his teacher and the help of his wife, he finally overcame his learning difficulties and figured out his own way to learn and cope. His success and achievements gradually helped him to redevelop his self-esteem and confidence.


(full article in Chinese only)

Dr. Lam Yee Lok holds a doctorate degree in urban ministry, and is the Chief Pastor of Crossroad Community Baptist Church. He is very eloquent and had performed stand-up comedies in the Hong Kong Stadium. However, success did not come easy for Dr. Lam. When he was a child, he stuttered a lot, and always confused “b” with “d”. His grades were poor. However he never evaded his dyslexic condition. Though his friends had advised him to give up his studies for the doctoral programme, he persevered and studied harder than others to finally complete the course.


(full article in Chinese only)

Veteran actress Ms. Barbara Chan attended artist training class shortly after graduating from high school.  She did well and got the chance to play main roles soon after debuting. Some time ago Barbara heard about a learning difficulty called dyscalculia, and she realized that she has such difficulty because she has always been afraid of mathematical calculations. Despite this, she still managed to become an outstanding artist, an advocate for parent education, and a capable and loving mother. It proved that people with learning difficulties can also be successful. This applies to children with dyslexia. Unleash their potential and they can grow up to become strong pillars of the society.


(full article in Chinese only)

Ms. “貴花田” joined RTHK in 1994 and later became the host of the programme “瘋show快活人”. During her primary and secondary school years, she saw her grades gradually declined. After completing Form 5, she became a radio programme host. During one episode, she learned about dyslexia and its symptoms, and she suddenly realized that she is in fact dyslexic. Later, a veteran in the media industry taught her recording skills, and she learnt to draw lines to break up sentences in articles or scripts, or make marks with slashes and circles. It then became much easier for her to understand the content, hence reducing the chances of “NG” during recording.


(full article in Chinese only)

Dr. Sarah Liao, senior consultant of The Hong Kong University, is the former Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works. When she was young, she often  wrote inverted characters without being aware of it. But she was diligent and hard-working, performing well in her studies.  She even managed to graduate from the University of Hong Kong. The younger son of Dr. Liao also struggled with his academic performance – it was still at a time when awareness of dyslexia was minimal. She tried to look around for help, and fortunately she came across a university professor and learned from him that those were symptoms of dyslexia. Dr. Liao encouraged parents of students with dyslexia to explore and cultivate the potential of their children, and they should set reasonable expectations for their children. All in all, parents of children with dyslexia must know about the strengths of their child, and leverage that to make up for their shortcomings.


(full article in Chinese only)


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