Just because your spelling isn't perfect that doesn't mean you're stupid - The Mix uncovers the truth about dyslexia.
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty which affects your ability to read, write and spell. It can also cause problems with numbers, directions and short-term memory.
Nowadays dyslexia is widely recognised by teachers and psychologists and is considered a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act. The British Dyslexia Association quotes research suggesting that the condition seriously affects 4% of the population and up to 10% show some signs of difficulties. Recent evidence indicates these problems are caused by the different ways that dyslexic people process language, especially in the left *hemisphere* of the brain. However, this doesn’t mean that dyslexia affects your intelligence. Dyslexic people can be successful in any area of life and often show a lot of creative or intellectual ability.
What are the symptoms?
- Reading very slowly
- Difficulty with spelling
- Mixing up sounds in long words
- Confusing numbers, dates and times
- Needing to have instructions repeated
- Problems with note taking
- Finding it difficult to plan work
- Disappointing exam results
How do I find out if I’m dyslexic?
If you recognise some of the symptoms above, you might be dyslexic. To get a proper diagnosis you need to see an educational psychologist or specialist teacher. If you’re a student, contact your disability or learning support advisor and ask them to help arrange this. At university the cost of the assessment can be paid for out of the Access to Learning Fund. You can find an educational psychologist yourself though the British Psychological Society, or contact the British Dyslexia Association or Dyslexia Action for information about assessments from specialist teachers.
Having an assessment can be a way to identify your strengths and weaknesses and get the support you need, as well as reassuring you that your difficulties are not your fault.
What support can I get?
Specialist teaching can help overcome many writing and spelling difficulties. You can learn techniques to improve your reading speed. Pictures and diagrams can help with remembering things and organising your work. For more information about specialist teaching, contact Dyslexia Action.
At college or university you should be offered support from the disability office. Recommendations about equipment are usually made after an assessment of your needs and in higher education you can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances towards the extra costs. Common adjustments for dyslexia include:
- Extra tuition and help with language skills and structuring work
- Use of a computer or laptop
- Specialist software, for example, word prediction, speech recognition, mind mapping
- Handouts and booklists in advance of classes
- Notetaker, known as a ‘scribe’
- Digital recorder for lectures
- Extra time for coursework or exams
- Materials on different coloured paper
Similar types of support are available in the workplace. Under the Disability Discrimination Act, employers have to make reasonable adjustments for people with dyslexia. If you’re struggling at work you can talk to your line manager or, if you prefer, the Human Resources department. They should keep confidential any sensitive personal information about disability at work and not tell anyone else without your permission.
Updated on 29-Sep-2015
Picture of boy studying by Shutterstock.