What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that can make it harder to read, write and spell. About 10% of people in Britain are affected by Dyslexia and we are learning more about it all the time.

Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence – some of the world’s most famous scientists and thinkers are thought to have been dyslexic, like Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell (who invented the telephone) and Thomas Edison (who was the first man to record sound).

Stephen Hawking considers himself as dyslexic and thinks that dyslexia caused him problems at school, while artists like Andy Warhol, Leonardo da Vinci and the world heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali had dyslexia and became very successful.

Scientists believe that dyslexia is caused by the connections in the brain that are in charge of how we process language. However, if you are dyslexic you can still learn to read and write to a very high standard.

How do you know if you’re dyslexic?

There are several signs that could indicate you have dyslexia. For example:

  • You might find it hard to write down something after you’ve heard or read it.
  • You find it difficult to remember a whole list of instructions
  • You’re better at talking about things than writing about them
  • You find it difficult to stay organised
  • You mix up letters in words
  • You’re very good at creative and artistic tasks, especially on the computer
  • You can’t concentrate on reading or writing for a long time
  • People find it hard to read your handwriting.

However, while these things could suggest you have dyslexia, they might also be caused by something else. So, to find out for sure if you are dyslexic then you’ll need to take a test.

Dyslexia tends to run in families, so if one of your parents or siblings is dyslexic then it would be worthwhile for you to take a test. Likewise, if you are diagnosed with dyslexia then your family might be told to get tested too.

What happens at a Dyslexia test?

A Dyslexia test includes questions and activities that highlight your individual strengths, weaknesses and approach to doing things.

Depending on your school or college, you might be able to do a Dyslexia test where you are already learning. If you are out of education, or if your school or college doesn’t have a special needs department, then you can get tested by an organisation like Dyslexia Action or the British Dyslexia Association.

You can even take a dyslexia test online, although it is usually better to do it in person with a qualified expert.

What else do you need to know about Dyslexia?

If you are diagnosed with Dyslexia then there are lots of activities, books, exercises, organisations and programmes that can help you improve your language skills. The person who tests you will be able to talk you through these options.

You may be able to get more specialised teaching, to help you with your writing, reading and spelling. You will also find ways to learn that are better suited to you as an individual. For example, holding a coloured film over a black and white sheet of text may make it easier for you to read.

Many experts believe that there is a link between Dyslexia and other learning difficulties like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Dyspraxia, which is to do with your physical co-ordination. So, once you’ve been tested for Dyslexia, you may also have the chance to find out if you have any other related learning difficulties.

Help and Funding

As a dyslexic you may be able to get special funding while you’re at school or in Further and Higher Education. This can help you to buy specialist equipment like a laptop or computer programmes.

If you are out of education, in work or unemployed, then you may be able to get support for assessments and tuition through a career development loan.

Who can help?

For lots of useful information on Dyslexia visit the Dyslexia Action website.

The Prince’s Trust has lots of information on how you can move forward.

If you are a student and diagnosed with Dyslexia, you may be able to get a disabled student allowance.

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