What is dyslexia?

Over the last year, there has been a lot of talk about dyslexia in the media and in parliament, but there is still a lot of misunderstanding about what dyslexia actually is.

And, it is estimated that about 10% of the population in the UK, and in fact the world, has some degree of dyslexia; that’s 1 in 10 people or globally 780 million people, diagnosed and undiagnosed.*

So, what is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that causes problems mainly with reading, writing and spelling. Unlike a learning disability though, intelligence and vision aren't affected. However, it is a lifelong issue and can cause daily challenges for those who have it.

It is important to remember that dyslexia isn’t the setback that past stigmas, negative social connotations, and previous societal views would have you think though. There are lots of positives to thinking differently, too!

Many dyslexic people show strengths in visual and creative areas, as well as in logic, reasoning and problem solving. However, learning to embrace those differences can be tricky.

What are the signs of dyslexia?

Signs usually become more obvious when a child starts school and begins to focus on learning how to read and write. Someone with dyslexia may:

  • Confuse the order of letters in words
  • Read and write more slowly
  • Be confused by similar looking letters such as “b” and “d”, or “p” and “q”
  • Understand verbal information, but struggle with written information
  • Have poor spelling
  • Struggle with planning and organising

However, this isn’t an exhaustive list and someone with undiagnosed dyslexia may have other symptoms and signs, so a formal diagnosis with a certified assessor is essential.

How dyslexia affects different people varies, especially depending on the severity; and it is also worth knowing that it can often co-occur with other learning difficulties. So, what helps one dyslexic person won’t necessarily work for another. But, there are a whole range of assistive technologies and software on offer to help every individual.

What are the challenges dyslexic people face?

In addition to the challenges with reading and writing that a dyslexic person can face within their education and work life, they can often have additional issues that affect their lives, such as:

  • Telling left from right
  • Following sequential instructions
  • Learning and following rules and procedures in the right order
  • Following travel directions (reading maps, telling right from left, up from down)
  • Learning to tell the time
  • Remembering words, names and phrases

How to support someone with dyslexia through school and work:

1.       Schools and colleges must offer support to students with dyslexia and must provide access to specialist staff who are trained to help such students.

2.       Assistive technologies, such as speech-recognition software, word processors and mind mapping tools, can be useful for students and adults too.

3.       Employers are required by law to make reasonable adjustments within the workplace to help people with dyslexia; this can be allowing extra time for certain tasks, giving verbal instructions, or considering specific software.

Ultimately, one of the best ways to support people with dyslexia is to be knowledgeable and to spread awareness. “Knowledge is power” as they say, and it will help everyone if society understands it better. If we can continue to smash a few outdated stereotypes along the way, then that can only be a good thing!

Assistive technology, such as visual mapping software, can be a huge help for people with dyslexia; so if you want to give Inspiration 11 a try click here for a free 30-day trial and see how it works!

*British Dyslexia Association (bdadyslexia.org.uk)