What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a Specific Learning Disability/Difference (SpLD) and affects approximately 10-15% of the population.

• SpLD refers to difficulty with a specific area of learning. The most common SpLDs are: dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyscalculia and dysgraphia

• Dyslexia is a life-long neurological difference. It often runs in families and encompasses a wide range of challenges that can impact education, work and everyday life

• However, it is important to remember that dyslexia is not an intellectual disability. It occurs at all levels of intelligence - from average intelligence to highly gifted. Although there is no cure for dyslexia, with the right help, support and skills, individuals can gain confidence, self-belief and develop coping strategies to overcome, achieve and succeed.

• Dyslexia affects individuals in different ways. Its challenges range from mild, to moderate, through to severe and it can present itself along with other learning differences such as dyspraxia and attention problems

• It is often defined as a common language processing disorder which primarily hinders the learning of literacy skills such as reading, writing and spelling but it can also affect other areas

Challenges include:

Evidence also suggests that dyslexia is often associated with mild visual impairments and unstable eye control (wobbly eyes) when reading.

Unstable Eye Control (Wobbly Eyes)

Unstable eye control is where both eyes do not stare steadily at print, causing letters to blur, dance around the page, double and change their order, confusing the reader and interfering with the correct identification and order of letters.

Visual Disturbances

‘Visual Stress’ or ‘Visual Dyslexia' is a neurological problem, specifically related to letters and words. Individuals have a reduced ability making sense of information taken in through the eyes. White page ‘glare’ and the instability of images of letters and words against a white background can be experienced in several ways. The severity and symptoms can vary from one individual to another.

Light sensitivity

Headaches from reading

Shimmering colours appearing on the page

Difficulty in tracking across the page

Letters that double, reverse, flip, fade, blur or go out of focus

Print which appears to jump, move, shimmer or shake - sometimes appearing to move off the page altogether

Crowding of letters

Sentences running into each other

Although dyslexia is associated with one or several of the above challenges, it is important to remember that individuals with dyslexia often show strengths and talents in other areas such as creativity, visualisation, problem-solving and reasoning. Their ability to think outside the box can be entrepreneurial, allowing them to make a difference within their chosen career and in the world. The key is to encourage and nuture the positives.

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