‘I feel Dyslexia gave me a privilege. It pushed me into being totally visual’

David Bailey, Photographer

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills. It is likely to be present at birth and to be life-long in its effects. It is characterised by difficulties with:

  • phonological processing (sounds);
  • rapid naming;
  • working memory;
  • speed of processing information;
  • the automatic development of skills that may not match up to an individual’s other cognitive abilities.

Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of:

  • language;
  • motor co-ordination;
  • mental calculation;
  • concentration;
  • personal organisation.

But these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia.

© Matthew Tizzard

It tends to be resistant to conventional teaching methods, but its effect can be mitigated by appropriately specific intervention, including the application of information technology and supportive counselling.

A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well-founded intervention.

In addition to these characteristics, the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) acknowledges the visual and auditory processing difficulties that some individuals with dyslexia can experience, and points out that dyslexic readers can show a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process.  Some also have strengths in other areas, such as design, problem solving, creative and/or interpersonal skills.

Dyslexia can occur despite normal intellectual ability and teaching. It is constitutional in origin, part of one’s make-up and independent of socio-economic or language background.

Adapted from:

Cooper, R. (2009) ‘Dyslexia’ in: Pollak, D. (ed.) Neurodiversity In Higher Education: positive responses to specific learning differences Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, pp.63-89

Further reading:

Grant, D. (2010) That’s the Way I Think: dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD explained 2nd edn Abingdon: Routledge

Moody, S. (2007) Dyslexia: surviving and succeeding at college Abingdon: Routledge