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Having Dyslexia

Updated on April 3, 2012

In this article I will describe what it can be like living with dyslexia. I will start with a short introduction of what dyslexia actually is for the benefit of those of you who are not aware of, or know very little about the condition.

Dyslexia is a learning disability that can range on a spectrum from mild to severe depending on the individual. A lot of literature on dyslexia that you will find on the internet and in the library states that dyslexia is purely a reading disability which is not the case at all. Dyslexia does affect the reading ability of many people, but it is accompanied by many other difficulties that I will discuss further in this article. The majority of people who have dyslexia were born with it, which many inherited from their parents. Dyslexia can also be caused by brain damage as a result of brain surgery or the result of an accident. Dyslexia is not linked to intelligence and therefore does not affect it. Dyslexia in children is often mistaken for behaviour difficulties if the child has not been diagnosed and does not know why they are experiencing the symptoms so to speak that go along with the learning difficulty. People who have dyslexia are said to be more creative than the average person because they use more of the right side of their brain which is associated more with creativity, whereas the left side of the brain is associated with more logical thinking.

Reading Ability

Dyslexia can cause different levels of reading difficulties. Some people with dyslexia find it very difficult to read at all, although it is highly possible for them to learn regardless of their own personal learning pace. Some dyslexic people have learned to read very well throughout their lives but usually read slower than the average person, which is often due to the fact that they have to read the sentences a few times over to process and register what has been read. One common thing that happens when reading is the words jumble up on the paper, where it actually looks like the words are rearranging themselves on the paper in front of you. This can be very strange to experience. Another common theme is missing out words when reading or misreading them. You can actually read something a few times and not see certain random words on the page. Coloured overlays or tinted glasses are often used to counteract this symptom. Each individual is tested by an Optometrist who finds out which exact colour shade is comfortable for the person. The coloured overlay sheets or tinted glasses also help with the glare that is often experienced when reading black print on a white background. The colour helps the print stand out more without the blur or glare. Coloured paper can also be used. Sometimes having coloured overlay sheets and tinted glasses are also appropriate for people who suffer from light sensitivity.

Writing Ability

When it comes to writing, many dyslexics write back to front with common mistakes such as adn rather than and. This can happen with any word and can be very frustrating but you just learn to get used to it and try to be more aware of how and what you are writing. These back to front mistakes with letters and words can also happen when typing which is a much easier error to correct using the back space key. Some people with dyslexia often write slower and messier than the average person.

People who have dyslexia can also have poor grammar which often accompanies poor and irratic spelling. It is easier for some dyslexic people to learn how to spell words using phonics, and often spell from memory of how the word looks (picturing the actual word in their mind's eye) rather than actually knowing how to spell it.

Assessment and Extra Help with Learning

A Psychologist who is qualified to test for dyslexia (usually an educational psychologist) determines who is dyslexic by observing the individual during the test and looking at the overall score. An assessment usually costs around £300 - £400 per person (roughly $400 - $550) depending where you go. These days many universities pay for their students to be tested. You usually need a new assessment for each learning establishment you study at usually every few years if relevant. The university or college will always know if your assessment report is still valid when you join them. I am not sure of the process in other countries but in the UK, once you have been diagnosed with dyslexia you can apply for another assessment from your local Learning Education Authority (LEA). They will refer you to a learning assessment centre where you will be assessed for what learning equipment you will need to assist you with your learning (this only applies for university education). You can be provided with a PC/laptop, lecture recording device, printer, scanner, reading software, mind mapping software, electronic dictionary and anything else the assessor believes you need to assist you with your studies. You also receive extra help with your learning style (study skills) from a dyslexic tutor. This is usually provided once a week for one or two semesters. An extra 10-15 minutes is allowed as extra time during your exams, you are allowed the use of a computer during exams and tests and the use of a dictionary or spell check on the computer (it is up to your learning establishment which one they let you use). Some places of study allow extended time to hand in coursework.

Listening and Processing Information

Having dyslexia can cause you to become easily distracted where any little movement or noise will grab your attention. Once this happens it is often difficult to go back to concentrating on the task at hand. Often a recording device comes in handy during lectures or meetings because the working memory is often affected in dyslexics which often causes them to take incomplete notes whilst listening to someone speak. This is usually because they are still focusing on the first spoken sentence and miss out on the next few sentences while they process the first sentence and try to make notes. It is much easier to record the lecture or meeting, write key words and phrases to jog the memory when referring to the notes, and re-listen to the recording later on. It is often found that when listening to the recording again, a lot of what is said seems like brand new information because the listener cannot remember those particular things being said. Many of the occurrences I have mentioned in this article can also be experienced from time to time by someone who does not have dyslexia, but dyslexics experience it as a common occurrence in their every day lives. Verbal expression can often be difficult for some people who have dyslexia. They know exactly what they want to say and have the words in their own vocabulary, but just don’t know how to recall the words when they need them. This often happens when the person is experiencing heightened emotions.

Examples of some Celebrities who have Dyslexia:

  • Fred Astaire
  • David Bailey
  • Harry Belafonte
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Marlon Brando
  • Albert Einstein
  • Thomas Edison
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Walt Disney
  • Richard Branson
  • Danny Glover
  • Cher
  • Tom Cruise
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Woody Harrelson
  • Harrison Ford
  • Anthony Hopkins
  • Patrick Dempsey
  • Agatha Christie
  • Magic Johnson
  • Dustin Hoffman
  • Bill Gates
  • Duchess of York
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Roald Dahl


All difficulties I have mentioned above and others that I have not mentioned can be worked on. There is always a way to work around each difficulty to make it easier for the individual. It just takes perseverance and patience on the dyslexic’s part learning their own style of working which is best for them.


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