What is dyslexia ?

Dyslexia is defined by the British Dyslexia Association as “a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing” although reading is the most prevalent. It has been estimated to occur in 4% of the UK population, and 10% show some of the symptoms of dyslexia . Accompanying weaknesses may be identified in areas of speed of processing, short-term memory, sequencing and organisation, auditory and/or visual perception, spoken language and motor skills. Persons with dyslexia may have difficulty remembering, recognizing, and or reversing written letters, numbers, and words, might read backwards, and they have poor handwriting. The reading disorder is characterised by reading ability below the expected level for a child’s age, school grade, and intelligence.

Oscar’s story.

On average every UK classroom has two or three dyslexic children. The fortunate ones are diagnosed young. In this video, Kara meets Oscar who was not diagnosed as dyslexic until he was 16. He had few friends. He felt trapped at school and even tried to commit suicide. He moved schools once the diagnosis was made and life is beginning to sense. He now plans to be a teacher so that he can help other children.

Michael’s story.

He learned late in life that he has severe dyslexia and he must learn to read and write from scratch; for most of his life he had not been able to do either. He had been unable to even fill out a form. He turned to crime and spent time in prison. The probation service sent him for a dyslexia test and it proved positive. Since then he has been attending weekly dyslexia support classes. He now hopes to turn his life around. Kara realises that support for dyslexics is essential. She is angry that there are so many children who have been less fortunate than her.

Dyslexia is diagnosed in people of all levels of intelligence and varies in severity and often occurs alongside other specific learning difficulties , such as Dyspraxia or Attention Deficit Disorder. Dyslexia exists in all cultures and across the range of abilities and socio-economic backgrounds. It is not related to intelligence, race or social background. Dyslexia should not be confused with dyscalculia , a learning disability marked by severe difficulties with mathematics. Dyslexia is diagnosed more frequently in boys. Dyslexia can be substantially compensated for with proper therapy, training, and assistive technology. Dyslexia is life-long, but its effects can be minimised by targeted literacy intervention, technological support and adaptations to ways of working and learning.

Many dyslexic people have achieved remarkable success including:

Artists and Writers:

Leonardo da Vinci, Hans Christian Anderson, Lewis Carroll, Walt Disney, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Andy Warhol, Beethoven, Mozart, John Lennon, Nigel Kennedy, Agatha Christie


Thomas Edison, Sir Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Alexander Graham Bell, Albert Einstein, Wright Brothers


George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin Woodrow Wilson, John F Kennedy, Sir Winston Churchill, George Bush, George W Bush, Dwight Eisenhower, Stonewall Jackson

Actors / Performers

Henry Ford, Fred Astaire, Harry Bellafonte, George Burns, Tom Cruise, Whoopi Goldberg, Cher, Susan Hampshire, Oliver Reed, Marlon Brando, Dustin Hoffman, Harrison Ford, Robin Williams, Zoe Wanamaker, Ruby Wax


Jackie Stewart, Muhammed Ali, Duncan Goodhew, Carl Lewis, Sandy Lyle, Sir Steve Redgrave


Richard Branson, Bill Gates


George Patton, Nelson Rockefeller, Steven Spielberg S James Oliver

Dyslexia tends to run in families; it is known that there are several genes that contribute to a genetic risk of dyslexia. It is known to be the result of a brain function disorder. Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in children and persists throughout life. Dyslexia need not be a barrier to achievement and success if it is properly recognized within society, and steps are taken to provide suitable teaching and training along with compensatory strategies and resources.

Dyslexia is best diagnosed by a psychologist who, in addition to other tests, will calculate a person’s expected reading age from their intelligence and age. The difference between this and the actual reading age, as measured with a reading test, gives a measure of the reading difficulty. The term dyslexia is usually reserved for a severe degree of reading difficulty. Leonardo da Vinci and Einstein are both thought to have been dyslexic. Psychological assessments can be arranged through your school, or privately through Dyslexia Institutes.

Although dyslexia may be associated with underachievement, many dyslexics prove successful at university and in their careers.

Some people with dyslexia can also suffer with Visual Stress which can be treated much easier than dyslexia itself. Once this element is erased from the equation, the remaining difficulties can be addressed more easily.