The lifelong social and emotional effects of dyslexia

With the aim to assist both parents and educational practitioners to recognise the emotional turmoil that both young and older dyslexics face in life, Neil Alexander-Passe illustrates the lifelong social and emotional effects of dyslexia. The author’s new book Dyslexia and Mental Health: Helping people identify destructive behaviours and find positive ways to cope is out now.



What is dyslexia?

To most, dyslexia is the difficulty with words, but in truth the term is misleading. The true effects of dyslexia go well beyond having a difficulty with words and spelling, as it also affects the ability to remember names and facts, balance and the ability to tie shoe laces and tying ties, misreading and misunderstanding the relevance of numbers, to write neatly, and to recall facts once learnt (even from two minutes ago).


The young dyslexic

The effects of dyslexia are widespread, and in mainstream education everything the dyslexic has difficulty with is valued highly by teachers and their peers. Can they read fast and write neatly? Well, no. Can they remember spellings for a test? Well, no. Can they recall enough facts to write an essay? Well, no. So a young dyslexic will see their friends and peers perform at ‘normal’ rates and progress smoothly through school, and each year the gap widens. Unless teachers have knowledge of special needs and/or dyslexia, it is unlikely that the young dyslexic will be identified as having learning difficulties or differences.

Studies of teacher training courses and the knowledge-bases of teachers support the argument that most teachers are unqualified to recognise a dyslexic child in their midst. So what happens? The dyslexic child begins to see themselves as ‘abnormal’ and ‘stupid’, which is exactly what they are told, either openly by teachers or by their friends, or indirectly by being put on the ‘stupid’ table with the other ‘slow’ kids. Children know who the clever and not-so-clever ones are very fast, and no matter how teachers dress up mixed-ability classrooms, kids know! In the playground the clever kids mix within their own circles, excluding all the others as misfits.

Each year the dyslexic child falls even further behind their peers, and their common reaction is to give up even trying in class, as no matter how hard they try, they always seem to get the lowest marks. No matter how hard they revise spellings or facts, within minutes or hours such facts or spellings are lost like grains of sand.

Emotionally such failure on a daily or hourly basis is harsh. What can the dyslexic child do in such a hostile environment? Well, many withdraw and develop depressive symptoms to cope, as it’s easier that way.


The adult dyslexic

After ‘surviving’ school, maybe without any qualifications to their name, dyslexic young adults are faced with finding a job, or going to college to gain the qualifications they need to start an apprenticeship. They see their peers leave school with 8-10 GCSEs, and all they have is one or two qualifications in unvalued subjects, such as Art or Drama. They see their peers go to university or train up to any career that takes their fancy, but what can the dyslexic do? Do they have a choice? Not with the lack of qualifications they have. Their dreams of being lawyers or doctors are just that, dreams.

Do they either start on a low-level college course to develop their basic skills, take a job in manual labour, or be unemployed – they begin to question their place in society. Can they take their place, or are they excluded from a society that highly values those who can read and write? Once again, they see that withdrawal is a good option to protect their self-esteem, and again depression looms. Many find completing application forms so exhausting that they give up even applying for jobs or benefits, and some even turn to crime to make ends meet.


Dyslexics and their families

Parents of young dyslexics are bemused by their child who can orally seem intelligent but just cannot seem to cope at school. They know they work hard but nothing seems to stick. They know that no matter how long they work at writing an essay, it looks messy and rushed. Compared to their non-dyslexic children, they can see their dyslexic child starting to give up, and beginning to withdraw into a shell-like existence.

The dyslexic child begins to question their place in their family; it is almost like they don’t fit in. They begin to question if they were adopted, and many have been known to write ‘help me’ on signs in their bedroom windows, or even run away from home, as they feel trapped by a family that they don’t feel a part of. What does running away achieve? It manifests their anxiety about fitting in. It says to them that it’s better to leave as they don’t fit in, and that their parents and siblings do not understand them. Many keep a packed bag under their beds, even from an age as young as seven, so when the pressure gets too much, they can flee at a moment’s notice. Where do they go? Anywhere, as it must be better than a home that feels more like a prison.


What can be done?

  • Schools need to train teachers to recognise dyslexics in their classes. Research suggests that 20% of all school-aged children will have a learning difficulty at some point in their education, and dyslexia is the single most common difficulty. Seen severely in 5% of schoolchildren and another 5-10% more mildly, that’s at least one to two dyslexic children in each classroom.
  • Teacher training needs to teach recognition of learning difficulties.
  • All teachers are required by the UK government to be qualified to teach all children with special educational needs in their classrooms, but most lack this ability, so additional training is urgently required for them to ‘differentiate’ their lessons effectively.
  • Schools need to identify early and provide specialist teaching to children with special educational needs.
  • Schools need to provide counsellors for children who experience difficulty learning at school, as the emotional effects of failure can lead to social exclusion, depression and self-harm.
  • Teachers need to recognise the avoidance by children, ask themselves why, and act to question if there is a learning difficulty or another barrier to their learning e.g. avoiding reading and writing.
  • Parents need to praise the effort not the end result, and support their children to focus on strengths not weaknesses.


But don’t some dyslexics survive school and succeed in life?

Whilst it is true that some dyslexics do well in life (e.g. Richard Branson, Keira Knightley, Mollie King, Jamie Oliver, Tom Cruise), researching them you hear the same thing. School was hell and they left as soon as possible. They also highlight that they found something they were good at early on, maybe not school subjects such as English, Maths or Science, but vocational skills such as selling, persuading, acting, cooking, art and design, etc. This allowed them to balance the negativity at school with their ability to out shine their peers outside school. Ongoing research in dyslexia and success has found that each successful dyslexic has a ‘chip on their shoulder’ to prove everyone who ever doubted their ability wrong, to prove that they are not ‘stupid and thick’. They are driven by their school failure and humiliation to do well in life. Even returning to school for their own children is hard for them, they can have symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder when seeing small chairs, smelling sickly floor cleaner, or seeing drawings pinned up on walls, as theirs were not deemed good enough for presentation.


Dyslexics, unless diagnosed and helped early on in their school career, will suffer from varying levels of emotional pain. Be it low self-esteem, self-doubt; withdrawal or running away from home. It is important to recognise that secondary bad behaviour is commonly covering up for primary difficulties, but most teachers are just satisfied by mislabelling pupils as troublemakers and try to move such needy pupils to a different teacher.


Neil Alexander-Passe is the Head of Learning Support (SENCO) at Mill Hill School in London, UK, as well as being a special needs teacher and researcher. He has taught in mainstream state, independent and special education sector schools, and also several pupil referral units. He specialises in students with dyslexia, emotional and behavioural difficulties, ADHD and autism. Neil has written extensively on the subject of dyslexia and emotional coping and, being dyslexic himself, brings empathy and an alternative perspective to the field. Find out more about Neil’s work here.

Learn more about Dyslexia and Mental Health here.

Read Neil’s other blog post: Dyslexia, self-harm and attempted suicide

43 Thoughts

  1. Im dyslexic. I dont even understand other dyslexics. They dont seem to have a very bad memory like mine. My short & long term memory are terrible. I could talk about the negative aspects of my own dyslexia forever. I’d be here forever. I cant remember so much,no lyrics of songs, no poems, no names of people or places ..except a bare few like a friend & names of family members. If i cant remember how can i go to college & learn ? I been there, but the information wont stsy in my head. Not in one million years. So i had to leave. Story of my life. Failure, after failure, after failure. Fast forward to a career. I cant remember sequences. This affects me at work, in everything i do in my life. Everything. Show me how the computer works in a bar & give me a job. You will fire me after halfofthd fire me after half of the first night, after the first hour ..really. The info wont stay in my head. Thats one of many examples i could give you. I cant remember my way around the city ..except for the regular routes i use. I cant remember the names of streets, except for the bare few main streets i use. Maybe four or five streets. My memory is bad. Tell this to someone in your family, to someone in college,a class mate, a tutor. They stand there like a rabbit in a head light. They dont have an answer. They dont know what to say. And its your problem,not their problem. Fast forward to trying to date someone, trying to talk about topics of intetest, music, film. Names of places, actors. Its all a blank. Thdre is nothing,no names, dates, etc in my brain. Now ask why i wash dishes for a living. All my life. Because i cant do anything else. Ive tryed & its hell. I find i dont need much memory to do this job. It causes me no problems, except for the fact that i have to work for minimum wage & my life style, accomodation, etc are at low end life. I have to be content existing, but not really achieving ..except for paying my bills. Thats an achievement, but i cant get past this level.

    Im out, i will explain no more.

    The end.

    1. I am dyslexic, and my dyslexia is like John Smith’s dyslexia. My parents had the money and resources to get me all the help in the world when I was young and I know from my experience that my inability to read and write is not from a lack of resources or of trying . My parents put me in special schools and took me to experts, and I do feel that some people who are dyslexic can be helped to read, but some of us will never be able to read any more than blind people will be able to see. I believe there should be a push towards identifying those that will never learn to read and get them help in the form of technology are use an iPhone ( click, select all, read )… I can press the little microphone on the keyboard and begin speaking and words appear on the screen before my eyes. I was angry at God when I was a child, to the point that I gave up on him, but I have not given up on miracles such as the device I am speaking into right now, this phone has changed my life. I can snap a picture of written text and my phone will scan it and read aloud for me. My phone lets me surf the Internet and with the swipe of two fingers from top to bottom will begin reading the page allowed.
      Back to what John Smith said in the comments above. My dyslexia affectes so much more than just reading!!! Memory and sequences are just a few more problems I deal with every day. I’m not sure which of my other problems are from dyslexia or from the psychological effect of dealing with dyslexia. Like my fear of talking on telephones or even ordering food from drive-through speakers, and if I have to talk about my childhood hood school experiences I am reduced to tears, and my throat swells shut as it is doing right now.
      Some blessings are curses:
      My parents owned a drilling company, and were able to give me the kind of jobs I would never have been able to get with dyslexia. I am 47 years old now and a few years ago my father came down with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease at the same time and he debilitated rapidly, The drilling business went under and I was forced to find a job elsewhere. The first three years I worked for several companies that were clients of my father’s company. I would beg them to put me in the lowest job where I knew in my own mind I would be safe, but these old friends of my dad would always put me in some higher position and then when I could not do the paperwork everything would collapse and I would find myself looking for another job. This has shaken my confidence in myself, but I continue to press forward using technology and in my last job I was a foreman over a drill crew and was able to turn in reports that I spoke into my phone sometimes taking me till three in the morning or longer to produce while in a hotel room off the clock.
      I am starting to ramble now, and losing my train of thought.
      If you have dyslexia, there is hope in technology.
      I am running out of old drilling friends to work for and have taken a job driving a school bus. The school bus pay is terrible but probably a little better than John Smith’s dishwashing job which I have been thinking a lot about lately.

      1. I’m with you I run and hide at the sight of having to read or Wright at work the amount of times Iv sneaked my iPhone out my pocket and whispered in to the mic hoping know one has noticed me just to spell a word or name on a customer orders is it’s 1000s I’m so embarrassed that I’m dislexic that I rarely tell any on I am only a few family members know I used to hope I would die wen I was younger whilst hiting my self asking why me why me and I can’t talk to any about it with out almost crying and at the age of 42 it still gets me choked it effects the way I think the way I live it prity much recked my life I to only get below averag payed jobs as I’m to scared to do any thing harder so I just drive a white van for a job and even now that still manages to be affected by the nasty dislexiea I think it makes me depressed most of the time witch I should realy get help and if I was retested now at my age I probly have ADHD as well as 70 % of dislexic people are I just day dream every day that I could earn good money so I could afford my own house insted of living in council flats or with my parents wen your older brother dose not have and you see what they have own house a BMW and a second car for her holidays abroad and the reawon my wife left me was coz she wants all that but not in a million years with type of dislexiea I got and I don’t even know how to spell it
        Funny hay

        1. I dont want to go on about this forever but ADHD …ive kept quiet about ‘ white noise ‘ which drives me INSANE, daily. All different noises, people talking in the back-ground, all at once, at the cash till in the bank, supermarket, in the street, etc. I went through 95 different job trials over roughly 3 years. I wanted the job but the background noise drove me insane, radios, fans, extractor fans, people talking together when / whilst im trying to work. What could i do ? I tryed almost every type of ear -plug. They werent really allowed in my wirk -place but i took them in anyway as i was desperate to to have a job, to keep the job, to have an occupation, to earn a living. Nothing worked & i had to leave them all. Family would think i was mad if i disclosed ADHD, WHITE NOISE …& that i think i have it. I can give you thousands of examples of ‘ white noise ‘ which affect me daily. I cut the steel clasps off my back -pack, the ones on the zipper, on each compartment on my back -pack. Why ? The noise from the ‘ clasps ‘ was driving me insane as i walked down the road, if i ran for a bus, etc …They jingle, insane. The p0back pack had to go ..or the ‘ clasps ‘ on my nice new, expensive back pack …with a bolt -cutters. Thats how bad this is. Im dyslexic, 70% of dyslexics have ADHD ? Erm ….no, its 40%, still high & i think im one of them. Diagnosis re, dyslexia …….& ADHD ..should be FREE / here in Ireland, in my humble opinion. I know dyslexia take a donation, any donation, but ADHD ..should be free. Peoples lives are being destroyed by it / ADHD ..& Dyslexia. * Im being honest, 95 job trials in 3 years & i was extremely lucky to find a job i can work in, although i do still have some problems in it, but i got lucky as they dont affect me as much as the noise, white noise in the other jobs, trials. Imagine trying to explain this, all of this to a potential employer, imagine if you were the employer & certain noise conditions had to be adhered to re, your mad, crazy / unusual brain. Whatever you want to call it. It shows something is wrong if you go through 95 job trials. It also shows you have the sheer determination to get a job, which i did in the end. Im finished if i lose this job. I couldnt find another 95 employers, i couldnt go through that again.

        2. You could write a book. Many people struggle with the same thing and even though your spelling is incorrect, your message is brilliant! Kids are born with dyslexia everyday and need to know they are not alone. There are children that won’t be famous or rich, but just want a life full of opportunities that they feel proud of. They work harder than every student and it takes them longer to do things, but I always told my kids, it will serve you well when others give up on things. Some of us are Turtles and they win the race. Tell your story.

    2. I completely understand your position, I have been position for many years whilst being an undiagnosed dyslexic.
      however, with the innate determination that I believe dyslexics have I have been able to carry on after failure after failure and I am now doing my second degree and hoping to go on to do a Masters. it has been the excruciating journey.

    3. There are some good Face book pages for dyslexics. Find one that has a lot of daily traffic it helps to talk. We are not alone.

  2. 58 dyslexic don’t want to talk about school family life only say that left school at 14 then had a child who is dyslexic same problems 40 years later find it very hard to go through all the pain again watching my child things have not changed

    1. That’s my worry to passing it on to my kids I would feel so guilty I have 3 kids so far so lucky with the to girls but my son only 3 and my dad was and I am dislexic I have to pray it not a male side of the family I don’t know if I could live with my self TBH I still go throw hell on a daily basis hate it ruined my life no confidence at all depressed cuz I can’t provide decent life style for my family as I can’t get a decent job only underpaid manual labour jobs and even then there always some thing to make life hard so embarrassed cNt fill out forms in front of people fill like they are watching and judging me as I take for ever to fill it out and hand wrighting of a 6 year old hate you dislexiea more than cancer

  3. i am dyslexic. ive been through the pain and the depression. not wanting to leave the house, not wanting to leave the bed. this goes out to every dyslexic kids and adults out there. Hope and faith, if you steer the wheel right you’ll go anywhere YOU see yourself in life. never stop trying because i have been there and i never want to go back in the black hole again. learn.

  4. I’m a dyslexic and while some of the above is true, this blog post paints a steriotypical picture of all dyslexics as under achievers and thus adds ‘fuel to the fire’ to the view that dyslexic means not intelligent. In actual fact many dyslexics are extremely intelligent and have a real struggle with pressure to do well and live up to expectations, along with accusations of just being lazy when they are in real need of support and help. It’s took me 15 years to believe in myself and attempt a degree and a masters because of this very narrow minded view of a dyslexic. I hope that anyone who is dyslexic understands that just because you have this learning disability, it does not mean you cannot do great things in life, please do not be put off.

  5. @Lindsey Ahmet, I don’t think the article is saying that dyslexics are not intelligent people, it’s more that the sytem by which we measure intelligence at school/uni is not suited to dyslexics.
    My daughter has been diagnosed with dyslexia and I never thought I had it but it is very painful to watch her feel the same way I felt and still feel. I have no idea how to help her when I couldn’t even help myself. Reading and writing are just tqo symptoms , It’s so much more than that. I feel dyslexia has shaped my whole life, I get very confused with forms and bills, my money is a total mess, I totally under performed at school, I don’t understand other people way of thought at all, I’m very reclusive. I have a low end job, and really poor memory. Just find the organisation of daily life really difficult yet think about things in a wider sense. My passion is illustration yet I have lost any kind of confidence in myself. I think dyslexia can be debilitating.

  6. nonlexic 50years, diagnosed at 37.

    Dear Sir
    Its not that nonlexic folk are unintelligent per se, its that the world is uninteligent. built and run by spreadsheet monkeys who think in straight lines.

    I am sick of famous nonlexics being paraded… its even worse that lexic folk think that if you are nonlexic and not famous or a towering geniuos, you are a double, double fail.

    it has ruiend my life. ruined my relationshps, affected my kids through my lack of rational behavoiur.

    The ‘gift’? dont make me lol, yeah, I arrive at the answer 1st, yeah i can think in 3d, yeah i can out think my peers… so what? if you dont have any self belife, if you are programmed to view yourself as an ‘idiot’ if you cannot cimmunicate with teh lexic world you are basically stuffed.

    Welcome to a life where opportunities are for other people.

  7. oh a question, is your book designed to be readable by us? or as a tool for those who would help?

    1. It’s primarily written as a tool for the helping professions and other practitioners who work with people with dyslexia.

  8. Sitting this moment in genetics class, final year of uni. Painful!

    Had to repeat a year because of complete handicap with learning. Diagnosed only last year with dyslexia, and the relatively unknown Irlen Syndrome. So not only do I find it hard to learn and coordinate the info, I can barely see it either.

    Normal strong daylight or fluorescent lights interfere with the images my brain sends me.

    The world is painful, and intolerant to say the least. Even when you are given allowances during exams, they are still corrected and graded by those who do not experience difficulty and who still view your work as “disjointed”

    Hmmm, they should see from this side just how disjointed the world looks like!

  9. Same story as the above. Learned some tricks, like names, by associating a person I already knew to the one I needed to. But pretty much failed my way through school. The auditory part was very distressing while young.
    And the Anxiety, the constant pressure and threats that early on led to deep depression.
    Very deep depression. The beast at the door every day.
    Still work at menial low paying jobs while having excellent verbal skills has people think I’m lazy, but I’ve got a thousand ideas and projects going all the time.
    After years of berating and humiliation for never being able to keep up, having been tossed out of three colleges, and not able to remember a single thing from work a day ago, I continue to read constantly. I read at a very, very slow rate, but every day I keep moving on. No TV, no phone or games, I read.
    It’s not for anybody but me. Just to prove to myself every day that I can.

    1. I cant believe how honest people are here. I thought i was one of the very few who have major problems with dyslexia. It annoys me when ‘ normal people, non dyslexic people talk about richard branson, tom cruise, einstein, etc, etc. Im told, ” if they can succeed why cant i ? If they didnt choode the lowest job, why did i ? People are so thick, so flippant.

      Ps, what your doing is a credit to you.

  10. I am a parent of a 42 yr old with severe dyslexia. I want to say I applaud all those who have contributed to this blog for telling their stories. My son completed a university degree many years ago and is now studying for a second degree. I recognised his dyslexia long before, in fact, 14 years before he was properly diagnosed. I tried for 14 years to get an answer to what I knew was wrong with my son, yet everyone was telling me I didn’t know what I was talking about. I got the same over and over, as you have all said, he’s lazy, just doesn’t want to learn etc. etc. etc. It was only through sheer utter persistence that I finally found someone who could diagnose the problem correctly. I took my son out of school and home schooled him through year 9 to the HSC. He thrived because of the way he was taught and earned himself a place in the top 10% of university. Yet, brilliant as he is, he still has doubts about his intelligence, and suffers from depression. No- one, except those who suffer from the stigma of dyslexia knows what it ‘s like to be thought of as dumb and/or lazy. The world has an opportunity to embrace those with dyslexia and their different way of thinking, which is so far above us mere mortals who don’t have the problems of learning to read, spell and write. Very little has changed in 42 years. Yes, we hear about dyslexia and it is recognised as a learning disability or difficulty in some areas, but being a university, college and TAFE teacher myself, I still, to this day, have never seen evidence of teachers’ understanding of students with dyslexia and their style of learning, their creativity, their intelligence in my country. What a dreadful admission but true nevertheless.

  11. thank you for creating this blog on what it is like to be dyslexic and the difficult journey I and others share in trying to live with it. As a proportion of the population (10%) there is a huge number of people out there who can benefit from greater awareness and support. The mental health affects of dyslexia can act as a further anchor to self fulfilment and achievement

    I would like there to be more information and supports available that relate to adult dyslexics on how to overcome negative self belief and anxiety about their abilities as well as coming to terms with what dyslexia means for them. Personally I only found out that I have dyslexia last year. I’m a 35-year-old man and all my life I thought I was stupid, a Fraud and worthless. I still struggle to believe the assessment from the psychologist. My education and life experience compounded these belief to the point where it has severely affected my life.I have looked for support with this however I found there is limited available but your work helps to know there are others out there like me who gave struggled but achieved.

    Good luck everybody

    Cheers Paul

  12. Reading this blog and the comments has been helpful and heartbreaking. My husband is dyslexic and I was horribly ignorant when we got married of the full impact of how it affects his life. I keep learning. Please keep talking about how dyslexia affects your lives. Because of people sharing, my marriage is in a much better place and my husband has a far more understanding wife. Thank you!

  13. I was diagnosed with dyslexia and erlens when I was 32 and studying for my second degree. I was so angry when I got the diagnosed. I have a master degree and a post graduate diploma. It wasn’t easy not one of my teachers if lecturers picked up my dyslexia – I was time and time again critised for my essays were not quite written in order and I should read my work though to check for spelling and grammatical errors . I’d always felt “different” to those around me. What I find awful is that I have been multiple times to the GP with sign and symptoms of depression and anxiety and reffered for numberous CBT sessions and various antidepressants….. nothing for me worked.
    I have worked in healthcare (pharmacist) for 15 years and have reached a high managerial position. It is only now that I am honest with myself and those that I work with that I am dyslexic…. since being open and honest life has got easier. I think that is dyslexics should educate those around us about how it feels emotionally to be dyslexic. There are negatives to being a dsylexic but socially and as a community our friends, family and work colleagues should be there for us to help us out when we struggle and when they need a multi lateral thinker who can solve complex problems they can come to us. Another thing that has got me though the dark days are befriending other dyslexics….. we understand and support each other and our partners often comment on the frustrations of living with us. They also enjoy talking to each other on coping mechanisms and systems in there relationships to make their lives easier as a couple.

  14. I think i may have dyslxia espically y with numbers and spelling.I can read very well and write ok.I can read over and over how to spelll a certain something however i will always get a letter wrong reveresed no matter how many times i memorise it.

    I hated school i always felt left out and slow infact i was told at the age of 12 that i was stupid because i could not understand maths to a pass level.

    This was in year 2000 I am now 28 years old.I did complete my high school and passed everything at a pass level except maths i done foundation level which is the lowest grade.after that the only offer i got was for graphic design and i couldnt keep up with the assesments but it was also not for me and i left. I have struggled al my life and i know i am capable and have a hig emotional intellgince however in academics i am a failure. I have recently done a test to join polic. however i failed because i couldnt do the shapes test.I have recently done a maths test for a basic factory job and i know i have not passed as i found it hard. I do have a travel diploma that i am proud of and really enjoyed it unfortuntley i have not had succes in acheving my dream job yet. when i am passionate about something i do very well but always with extra work and re checking everything.

    I am very down today and i just want the same chance as anyone else.i try hard but each time get knocked back. i am happy i have a great man who supports me and believes in me.something i never had from teachers or family members. if you have a child with dyselxia encourage and support them never put them down as they already feel down in the schools.

  15. Thx for sharing. Im 49 and never been diagnosed with dyslexia but I have all the symptoms described in the first two posts. Reading, processing and retaining has always taken me 4x longer then people around me. I had a reading tutor in high school tell me I’d never make it through college…I went and graduated with mostly c’s in all my classes. And learned mad compensation skills…sang songs I made up to memorize, wrote my notes over on a notecard 3 or more times to memorize. Never retained but never cared.

    I went on to be a marketing director for two shopping malls, 10 years, sales for 6, then started my own business. My key to success was to work twice as hard, not care if things aren’t perfect and hire help that can stay organized and pick up the slack for my weaknesses while I focus on my strengths. I’m slow to learn but if I give a new job 6 months, it clicks and I tend to put a unique spin on things and I excel in out of the box thinking and sales.

    My success came when I learned to come up with my own systems and methods and not care what other people think. Also helps to take entry level jobs and learn a job slowly and advance when things click down the road. I also chose laid back people to work for and I always worked worked longer hours. My horrible organizational skills are manageable. I put my keys and phone in the same pocket in my purse every day. Bills have to be set up on auto pay or they won’t get paid.

    My boyfriend is dyslexic, hated school, reads and writes slowly but is a very successful contractor and has owned a business for 30 years.

    My uncle and cousin are dyslexic as well. My uncle worked for family biz….auto body and motel that he eventually took over and ran successfully with good workers. He now flips properties for a living. None of us are mainstream but we have learned to become successful focusing on our strengths And compensating for weaknesses with systems.

    Part of being happy is choosing to be and exercise is also a huge part. I take boot camp classes, hike, bike, run a few times a week. I am 10x more productive and focused with exercise!

  16. I had no idea I was dyslexic till only the last few years. I was failing at reading in the 3rd grade (50 years ago), and my spelling and handwriting have always sucked.
    I lucked out by finding comic books, particularly Marvel with their relatively intelligent stories, good vocabulary and great art work. I went from failing to excelling at reading. I learned to read by seeing whole words and sentences at a glance. A lot of dyslexics have found this to be true. Unfortunately not all.

    The emotional scars and troubles have been more difficult to overcome. Forgetting people’s names and faces is a sin in many social circles. Dyslexics are viewed as less intelligent. Jerks still judge people’s intelligence based on spelling! I have a tested IQ in the top 1%, I have started many multi million dollar companies and have over a dozen international patents. In fact, for still hard to understand reasons, dyslexics are better at many tasks, so don’t forget that.

  17. Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences. I am learning a lot from this blog. I have a son who is in grade 10. We have been suspecting that he has a learning difficulties, though we have not done a proper diagnosis yet.

    He has become emotionally unstable and sometimes becoming violent. From what I read in this blog i am picking up dyslexia symptoms that still need to be validated.

    1. I feel for you and your son, but please do not perpetuate the stereotype that dyslexic people are violent and have behavioural issues, when there is no diagnosis of your son. When teachers fine out they have a kid in there class that is dyslexic they expect the child to have behaviour issues, and often falsly accuse the kid and make examples of them to other students when dyslexic kids my self one just want to hide and get though each day or just fade away and have to work harder then anyone. I was even punished by being tild to sand on a table for a week of classes for cheating …. Because a new teacher dident believe I was capable of getting an A plus When I was 13 … But I had worked very hard at it .. I have so many story’s of this. Your son may be violent out of frustration but that’s probly because of other things going on aswell

  18. September 2017 a friend of 45 years told me that she thought I had dyslexia! Oh My Goodness, it was as if I had been told I was ok. All my life I struggled with certain areas in my life! I’ve been called stupid, negative, slow, trouble maker, etc but I just kept trucking and doing the best I could! I had not even heard the word dyslexia in my life! I’m 69 years of age and so happy that I had a reason for my failures and that I’ve done great in my life under the circumstances. I have not been tested but I have been reading everything I find about dyslexia for the last 7 months. I will soon be tested!

  19. I’m dyslexic and until I read this article I hadn’t realised that my problems with recall and short term memory were linked to this. I was just awae of the spelling aspect. I have a supportive family who helped me get tutoring at a young age, which has helped with the spelling nut because of this I think I dismiss it’s affects when I should be dealing with them and maybe this would help me brake into the higher grade bands which I cant seem to achieve no matter how hard I try.

  20. I have read your stories and have heard the same ones of pain, difficulty and struggle from my students. I am an adult educator in a community based adult upgrading program. I teach adults with dyslexia how to read, spell and write using the Orton Gillingham method of teaching. In a one-to-one tutoring session, I use a multi-sensory approach to learning, which starts with what the student knows, then builds on one piece at a time. OG is based on scientific research and truly does work; it retrains the brain. My students can attest to this!

    Students tell me with tears in their eyes, that this is the first time they have been able to learn how to read after so many failed attempts. It is a beautiful thing to watch a 62 year old man read a novel for the first time.

    There may be trained tutors in your area who might be able to help you.

  21. “dyslexics are extremely intelligent” no they are not. Some are smart. Some are not smart and a lot are in the middle. There is no evidence are extremely smart. I understand your point regarding ‘fuel to the fire’ but your overshooting is just as deadly.

  22. I’ve never been told that i have dyslexia in my life but I feel like I’ve some form of it ! I have little or no memory and have to be told over and over how to do simple instructions, sometimes if I’ve learned something but it’s not something that’s done on a daily basis I just forget , I useully joke it off but it gets me down. I can’t spell very good because I cant remember how to put the word together(thank god for smart phones) I wasn’t very good at reading but I can read which is why I don’t think dyslexia fits completely with me but I want to understand why I’m the way I am and dyslexia comes close! I started reading books at home but it took me awhile to get into it, I couldn’t pay attention to what was going on in school at all ! I was held back twice in school and when i was 7 yrs old my teacher made me do a full maths book several times back to back over the year , while the kids in my class had moved on and I still did not know how to do one math question from that book, i probably still wouldnt know ! she didn’t care how humiliating that was to me in front of all the other kids , she basically pointed out to them how stupid I was and I did feel that way compared to everyone else!It was tough but I was pushed to finish school , did I learn anything , I would say no! I was either daydreaming or cracking jokes at school so maybe im just dumb but always felt there was something else to it im 27yrs old and still can’t spell ! deep down it hurts and ive no confidence in myself,
    everything that went in , went straight out again. Never went to collage because of the way i feel , the pressure would be too much , so i went to work in a cafe but only lasted two days because i couldn’t spell correctly what people ordered so didnt go back , after that i just thought I was to dumb to get a job so childminded for family or friends that I knew for shit money . Now I’ve got a job in a Supermarket and I was beyond scared starting but I don’t have to write anything so it’s working out for me even tho I do find it hard to follow instructions but the let me away with it because i show that im a hard worker ! I haven’t really told anyone that I struggle with this , most people must think im lazy , or make excuses as to why I didnt want to go to college and the truth is Im scared of going to the trouble of going and not been able to do any of the work because of how I am!it has been holding me back from living my full life along with other things but Im funny im nice to everyone and get told im a beautiful person so I count my blessings for that!

  23. Its sad, and heart warming to know that there are others out there but that it is such a struggle. I am just about to loose my marriage partly due to dyslexia. I am able to read and write but its slow, I have messed up at school, a’levels and my degree. I found out just before my degree started that I was dyslexic, but when finding the study tutor at uni, I was told that dyslexia wasn’t a problem, 3 times when I said I know it wasn’t a problem, he just kept repeating it, I just walked out in tears and frustration. I finally maaged a HND in a design subject, aand now that’s not enough for most of the jobs in the art and design field, as I was told when I was still brave enough to apply for new jobs. I am successful in my current job as a visual arts technician, so I am luck, but I am overworked, its getting too physically demanding at 51, (really it is, I used to be one of 3 now Im the only one left doing all their work, or best I can) underappreciated, by some and underpaid for what I do. I was lucky to get the job when there were lots going before the 2008 market crash. Now its to heart breaking and stressful to apply for anything else, but I do at least have a satisfying job, sorry I’m complaining. But it knocks your confidence when you know you could achieve so much more, but for the pieces of paper and confidence. The applications are so long and I never get a look in now as the market is flooded with lots of people with degrees, so even when I did try and apply I would stress so much that I don’t send it off as I cant finish it in time for the deadline, or Iloose confidence. I am now trying again to improve my life prospects, by studying in a complimentary medicine, and they have all sorts of ways to express your work including drawing, recordings, songs, poems, whatever floats your boat as long as they can see you get it so yeh! it can be done eventhough it still a big hard struggle. But i’m so tired doing that and a full time job, only just started that in September. I spent a week after my my first hand in date exhausted. And now to my marriage. The reason im now writing this. I wind up my husband by doing silly things, forgetting what he has just said, panicing if asked a question and I haven’t a clue what he has said. Direction giving in a car is awful, hes impatient and then I am so stressed I get it all wrong. I forget how to do simple things when Im stressed, and around him and his impatience ive become useless. using his automatic car, tried to drive today and had my food on the handbrake, which is not a handbrake but a foot break to the left (only remembered that as I am lefthanded lol) he sits so far back that I rested my foot on the side not realising I had it on this break. I then repositioned the seat closer. Let off the handbrake on the right, two different leavers for one job, how could they make it anymore confusing, but as I had my foot on the on-handbrake it kept pinging to say I handnt released it. AAAGGGGGHHHHH! That was one thing too far for him, on top of all my other little things I do like forget to lock the backdoor once, years ago, bash my car up parking next to a lamppost, forgot once id parked the car at the local shops, and walked home leaving it there. I only do these sort of things wrong once, but that and being totally spaced out sometimes when he talks to me and I’ve missed the thread of what he was saying,, forgetting something from seconds before its driven him mad. Sadly I don’t seem able to change that, I have tried, but the stress of trying makes it so much harder. I have been known to be witty and sharp once in a while lol! but stress knocks that out of me.
    So im sorry for my moan, its been a rubbish day, and looking like getting a whole heap worse. I hope all of you who struggle with any aspect of dyslexia can find a way to achieve what you deserve.

  24. I am a dyslexic diagnosed in the late 70’s. Through a lot of heatach guts determination and bloody mindedness I graduated in 2004 as a social worker. I have technology to help but it’s only affective to a point. I don’t think I will ever be on a level plying field as my peers but I try and they try yo help too.
    I have suffered anxiety for most of my adult life. I still feel us less at most things I do. I cannot take complents or recognise my own achievements.
    I find social situations terrifying not that I ever let on. I will be bubbly and joke to cover up. I talk a lot because that is easier than trying to retain or understand what others say. I have been accused as being bassist because of this. If only they knew.
    I believe as a group dyslexic people do not make others stop and understand that it inset just that we can’t spell and read and write. If that was all how much better we as a group would feel.
    The ignorance of the general population plus the disregard for dysleics by companies and others when considering the disability rights act hurts and we need to start challenging it. Companies need to help us more with our bill payments, complete forms for us and help structure there systems on a way that enables all to access and use them.
    I am proud to be with the people on here that have worked so very hard to survive each day in a non empathetic world for our disability

  25. To all I found out about 6 months ago I was not alone. At that time I started using Face Book. I do not like the home page stuff but I found pages for dyslexics to talk and I look forward to it every day. It is a place to find you are not alone.

  26. I am a dyslexic 40 something years all… I had always struggled remembering my age… After using the calculator I can say that I am 45 years old… I was diagnosed went I was around 10 years old, I was lucky and my mom worked with me everyday after school to be sure that I was able to understand what I just had seen during class that day, I remember having 2 notebooks for each class… One that I used to takes notes during class and the other one that I had to update every night at home with my mom to keep it clean as the teachers used to review them here an there… I grow up in Colombia… That also contribute to the problem as when I was 3 years old my family moved to South America due to work opportunities and the little that I knew about communication went through the window and I had to pick up a whole new language… Until I was 5, I started talking with people that were not part of my family as I was not able to stay in only one lenguaje… Years passed and I learnd that the only way to find my way in life was coming up with methods or systems to approach everything in life and as you can imagine I have thousands of processes running in my head at any given moment to deal with symple things as remembering the name of my boss… Probably one of the most difficult times in my life was went I switch back from Spanish to English as I was told how to deal with dyslexia in Spanish and all those mental rules were no longer applicable and on top of that I came across with new challenges like having to memorize the spelling of my name in English, or new rule to identify right from left, or don’t use the word massage instead of message because can get me in a really bad situation… But I think that the most obvious problem is that after so many years I can see that I had isolate myself once again as I am not able to understand the social clues of the society were i am leaving now… The sad part is that sometimes I pass my frustration to my wife as she really is the only person in this country that I feel safe… I went to college in Colombia and in the USA… I finish 3 carrers, it wasn’t easy but I consider that they were alot easier than interacting with other people as I had time to understand the topic before having to answer a simple question as how is your day going so far… What kind of question is that, what are they looking to know… They want to know my straguls or they want to know how is work or if my mind is been able to stay in one single topic for more than one minute… Based on the last few sentences I wll say that I am not been able to do it… Either way just try to find a system that works for you to help you to organize the simple things in life like the task of getting ready in the morning and star building from there to organize most of the day in big blocks… It is not going to be easy but as soon you find your own system you will see that with few changes it can be adjust to cover any other situation… I am a developer and I always saiy to my coworkers that I am a lazy developer because I write blocks of code in one project that I can copy and used under a different project, what they don’t know is that I applied at work my own system of life

  27. My 10 year old daughter has dyslexia, my 12 year old daughter has dyslexia and my 44 year old husband has dyslexia and ADHD.
    Hubby was disruptive at mainstream and at age 8 was moved to a special school. He would agree that is has greatly impacted his opportunities in life and his self-esteem in regards to going on to higher education.
    Both my daughters have received ed. Psyc. Evals and reports and had IEP’s. Here in Northern Ireland dyscalcullia is not recognised yet both their reports say they have it. My eldest daughter has always managed her dyslexia well using different coping mechanisms she has learnt and is fantastic at art so she has that and doesn’t suffer with any self-confidence of worth issues. However my youngest daughter, always a very “explosive” individual suffers badly. Her dyslexia is worse than her sisters and her self-confidence, esteem and worth are at rock bottom, despite mine and my husbands efforts. The past year she has been making statements such as “I’m stupid… I’m the dumbest in my class…I hate myself and my life I wish I were dead” This is wrecking me inside. I have been to the GP got a referral to CAMHS who after one visit discharged her saying she wasn’t severe enough to stay on their list.
    I really don’t know what to do.
    I have just made another GP appointment for her which is on 8th April 2019. Over a month away.
    She has become more socially reclusive but I still manage to get her to Scouts every Monday.
    I feel hopeless and lost as to what to do!

    Thanks in advance

  28. No regrets,
    No tears,
    Blood spilt,
    Worth every year,

    I’m real,
    I don’t exist,
    Nothing changes,
    Except for my dreams.


    My Dyslexia,
    Metapholically speaking.
    Northing changed in 58 years but I’m going to try to do the one thing I’m good at which is painting / easel artist. Im too tired to do this after my five day a week manual job. My plan is to try to cut back to a four day week when Im 60 & then I plan to paint two days or nights a week out of my three days off work. I will have to survive on four days a week pay or come up with some other plan to help me pursue the one thing I’m good at and I’m interested in…. being an artist. Almost 60 years have passed me by, I could be dead by 70 & never have tryed to do the one thing I love.

    Life is too short.

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