Professor Heather van der Lely, director of the Centre for Developmental Language Disorders and Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London has developed a test to identify dyslexia.
Called GAPS (Grammar and Phonology Screening), the test screens for a range of language disorders, including dyslexia, by assessing grammatical and pre-reading skills.
More than half a million children suffer from a language problem and about ten per cent of the British population is believed to have dyslexia. Around 375,000 children in Britain are severely dyslexic.
Dyslexia makes learning to read, write, spell and do mathematics difficult. An inability to concentrate and a lack of short-term memory are also symptoms.
Says van de Lely, "What really motivated me was seeing first-hand how failing to diagnose these problems was blighting so many young lives.
"Yet in most cases, once diagnosed, these language disorders can be helped or overcome with the right treatments and professional help."
A pilot project is currently being carried out at Aberdeen University to help trainee teachers to spot dyslexia in young pupils.
THE GAPS test which will cost fifty pounds, takes about ten minutes and features a cartoon character, an alien called Bik.
The child repeats a small set of sentences and made-up words to the alien. The two tasks measure two fundamental elements of language - grammar and the ability to construct words using sounds.
The score indicates whether the child is using language at a level typical for his or her age.