Dyslexia can manifest in many ways, with a lot of variability in how the definition is used. Some call it reading and/or writing disorder, or a learning disability, a learning difficulty, specific language impairment and more. In Dear Dyslexia, I’m going to use the definition from book Success and Dyslexia which states that, dyslexia is a:

“neurological processing problems, likely to be genetically based, lifelong, and highly resistant to change despite excellent teaching. These problems are independent of intelligence and can be experienced by people at all levels, including those who are gifted. Those with dyslexia have significant difficulty (e.g. are two years or more below the expected level for their age) with reading, spelling or mathematics (Dyscalculia) and have associated processing problems, such as difficulty with phonic analysis or auditory short-term memory” [2].

Like lots of learning disabilities, dyslexia exists on a spectrum and can impact a person in different ways, however, we all share similar traits, such as difficulties with our left and rights, navigating our way around and difficulties reading.  Dyslexia can also vary day to day, depending on all sorts of factors including the mood you’re in, how tired you are, and what you’re doing. Other factors that can affect how you’re going at a particular time can be how you’re going with your general wellbeing, how effective you feel you are at that time and, importantly, the type of support and intervention that you’re experiencing.

Dyslexia is known to be a major source of stress and can be associated with negative life outcomes such as:

  • passive learning styles

  • depression

  • disruptive behaviour in school

  • school drop-out

  • social isolation

  • juvenile delinquency

  • unemployment [2].

Many people are successful despite their dyslexia. It is the way people cope rather than the extent of dyslexia that has the greatest influence on outcomes [3]. Areas of strengths for people with dyslexia may include:

  • Creative

  • Big picture thinkers

  • Ideas people

  • Resilient

  • Hardworking

  • Determined

  • Strategic thinkers

  • Problem solvers

Areas of difficulty for people with dyslexia may include:

Writing accuracy

  • Difficulties with spelling are often evident as a dyslexic person finds recalling correct spelling patterns difficult.

Reading difficulties

  • Reading accuracy

  • Slow fluency rate

  • Letter and text may move on the page

  • May have to read the text a number of times to understand the meaning

  • Has difficulty decoding unfamiliar words

  • Proofreading

  • Lack of confidence when reading aloud

  • Reluctance to read for enjoyment

Maths difficulties

  • Counting backwards

  • Poor sense of number and estimation

  • Difficulties remembering basic number facts (e.g. tables), despite hours of practice/rote learning

  • May not have strategies to compensate for lack of recall, other than to use

Download  Dyslexia What Is It Factsheet

Reviewed by Dr. Nola Firth, Honorary Research Fellow: The University of Melbourne and Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute