What is Dyslexia?

What is Dyslexia?

The word dyslexia is derived from the Greek Language and literally means ‘difficulty with words’.

Dyselxia is characterised by specific problems in learning to read and write.  It is best described as a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing.

Dyslexia is a neuro – developmental condition, which means that it is part of the make up of the brain.  It is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties, affects men and women in almost equal proportions and tends to be hereditary. It is estimated that up to 1 in every 10 to 20 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia with up to 4% being affected enough to require specialist help.

Although dyslexia can cause significant problems in the classroom – especially if it is not spotted early in life it does not hinder the development of intellectual talents. People with dyslexia are often high achievers in math’s, music and creative activities.

It is important to note that dyslexia is not linked to general ability. Dyslexics simply have different brains that find reading, writing and spelling difficult, just as some people find reading or playing music difficult.

Dyslexia can affect:

  • Working memory
  • The speed in which they process information
  • Visual/spatial discrimination
  • Auditory discrimination
  • Auditory and visual short-term memory
  • Storage and retrieval in long term memory
  • Sequencing

What are the Signs of Dyslexia?

Signs of dyslexia usually become apparent when a child starts school and begins to focus more on learning how to read and write.

A person with dyslexia may:

  • read and write very slowly
  • confuse the order of letters in words
  • put letters the wrong way round – such as writing “b” instead of “d”
  • have poor or inconsistent spelling
  • understand information when told verbally, but have difficulty with information that’s written down
  • find it hard to carry out a sequence of directions
  • struggle with planning and organisation

Getting Help with Dyslexia

Dyslexia cannot be ‘cured’, but over time different coping strategies can be learnt and are effective.

People with dyslexia should take advantage of their social, visual and creative talents and reduce reliance on text and documentation.  Even though there is no cure for dyslexia, dyslexic individuals can learn to read and write with educational support.  There are techniques and technical aids that can manage or even conceal symptoms of the disorder.  Removing stress and anxiety alone can improve written comprehension.

Dyslexic people learn by:

  • Making personal, meaningful connections to secure things in the long-term memory
  • Remembering patterns rather than sequences
  • Remembering landmarks rather than directions
  • Thinking holistically all at once rather than step by step
  • Learning literacy skills by being interested in the subject
  • Learning by experience rather than being told

Dyslexia in the Workplace

Dyslexia is a recognised difficulty under Equality Act 2010, meaning employers should ensure that people with dyslexia are not treated unfavourably and are offered reasonable adjustments or support.

Many people in the workplace have not been diagnosed with dyslexia with some not even being aware that they have dyslexic difficulties. Others will have been assessed at some point, but prefer to keep things under wraps for fear of discrimination. There is no legal requirement to disclose to an employer if you have dyslexia. However once the employer has been informed of an employee’s dyslexia they are on notice that they have a duty under the Equality Act.

Reasonable Adjustments should be put in place as soon as possible. Failure to implement Reasonable Adjustments would be a breach of the Equality Act. These are usually not a quick overnight remedy, depending on the individual circumstances, it may take 2 or 3 months for measures to become embedded/effective.

How can you help?

Capitalise on a dyslexics social, visual and creative talents and minimise reliance on text and documentation. By working together to understand the strengths and weaknesses of someone who has dyslexia we can create opportunities to bring out the best in them and everyone they encounter.

Useful tips:

  • Take time at the start to discuss the best ways of working
  • Try to use as much visual information as possible
  • Rely on personal instruction rather than the written word
  • Go through new assignments and tasks face to face
  • Be direct and to the point
  • Use their social skills and creative capacities
  • Make lists – but try to keep them short
  • Avoid ‘paperwork’ as far as possible
  • Let the person use a computer
  • Allow for breaks as they may need to re-charge their concentration
  • Provide a scribe or a reader or both
  • Use coloured paper

Associated difficulties with dyselxia:

For more information or help and support with Dyslexia see:

NHS
British Dyslexia Association
Dyslexia Research Trust
The Dyslexia Association
Dyslexia Foundation

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