Dyslexia is a common condition affecting people of all ages which causes issues with reading, writing and learning. It does not affect overall intelligence although in more severe cases, it can interfere with speaking too. In the UK, for example, 1 in 10 people are dyslexic and brain scans have shown that when dyslexic people read, they use different areas of their brains to people who do not have the condition.
In the past, many dyslexic children went undiagnosed and they used to be accused of not paying attention in class, being lazy, being poor at spelling or of being troublemakers in general.
Nowadays, dyslexia is usually picked up when it’s time for children to start learning how to read and write at school. Dyslexic children will generally read and write much slower than their classmates and get letters mixed up within words. They tend to be able to digest verbal instructions OK but find written information hard to comprehend. The condition is diagnosed by an educational psychologist or by a teacher who specializes in dyslexia and a variety of assessments will be carried out, including a check for other health conditions by a doctor. Dyslexia can affect other areas of life such as finding a sequence of directions hard to follow and it can also cause issues with organizational skills.
During school life, dyslexic people will usually be assigned a learning support professional who will sit with them in class and they may spend time with a learning assistant outside of regular classroom hours as well. Extra help with phonics can improve the reading ability of people with dyslexia as they associate letters with sounds which can help to reduce the confusion. This is because the ability to link sounds to letters is impaired in people with dyslexia. This is why it can take a long time for dyslexic students to say a word out loud as they have trouble sounding it out. Reading and writing can therefore be very laborious and tiring for those with this condition.
Some learning support staff will use a multi-sensory approach so as well as saying the sound of the letter out loud, students will also be encouraged to draw the letter in the air with their finger. Reading practice usually forms a big part of dyslexic help as well. Learning assistants will normally check in regularly with their dyslexic students to ensure that they understand written instructions. They will be encouraged to ask questions every time they are unsure of a particular piece of information. Dyslexics may find mind-maps and other visual ways of organizing their ideas more effective than making notes or writing a list. During exams, dyslexic people are often allowed extra time or are allowed to have an assistant with them to whom they can dictate their answers to exam questions for typing up.
Many people with dyslexia find computers easier to use than handwriting, especially as spellcheck and systems like Grammarly are available to correct any mistakes. Text-to-speech functions are also useful for dyslexic people as they can playback what they have just written and listen to it instead of trying to read it. Speech recognition technology has also revolutionized Word processing for dyslexic people who can usually verbalize their ideas well. Dictaphones and other recording devices are useful to cross-reference with any written notes if dyslexic people are listening to a presentation.
Although dyslexia is picked up more quickly these days and is more recognized and accepted, people with the condition can still feel an immense amount of frustration when trying to read, write and process information. Having said that, people with dyslexia are usually more proficient in other areas of daily life such as creativity and problem solving. Many successful and famous people have struggled with dyslexia and it hasn’t held them back from becoming scientists, doctors, musicians, CEOs and entrepreneurs.