1.4 The impact of dyslexia

The impact of dyslexia can manifest in a variety of ways and should not be underestimated and learners with dyslexia will benefit from early identification, appropriate intervention and targeted, effective support at the right time. How dyslexia is perceived and understood is very important. Early identification with appropriate explanations and support can support the learner and their family to understand their dyslexia and help reduce the negative impact of dyslexia. Early identification can help the learner develop their own strategies and develop their resilience which in turn helps them to approach difficulties in a more positive and effective way. However when effective support and early identification are not in place dyslexia often has a negative impact on learners, parents, families and carers who become distressed that their dependents cannot get the support they need. In both children and adults, when dyslexia is unidentified or unsupported the negative impact can be high – children often lose motivation and become frustrated through the stress of trying to learn, not understanding what dyslexia is and knowing that they are ‘different’ to others because they find difficulty in doing, what to others, are simple tasks. This can lead to acute behavioural problems both at school and at home including bullying and anti-social behaviour, as well as low self-esteem and severe frustration for children not reaching their potential.

The impact on adults whose dyslexia is not identified and supported can be under achievement in further education and employment. The negative effects of dyslexia on self-esteem and confidence can lead to high stress levels, damage to personal relationships, day to day difficulties, depression and mental health problems. There is an established link between offenders and dyslexia. It is estimated that a high percentage of prisoners have literacy difficulties which includes dyslexia.

Understanding how individuals are feeling can help school staff and parents support the learner. However be aware that negative feelings can often be hidden or masked and the learners may need support to help them understand their dyslexia to help them build their resilience and confidence.

The following quotes are edited extracts from ‘Dyslexia and Us’ published by Dyslexia Scotland. The spelling mistakes within the quotes are as written by the contributors.

“It is good being dyslexic. When I first found out I was dyslexic I was 8 years old. Once I found out it was actually good as all the strategies to help me could be put in place, which made everything so much easier. Before I knew I was dyslexic I thought I was rubbish at lots of things.”

(Pupil, female, 9 years old)

“I struggle to do maths. Reeding and right are hard. I forget words. I looz things. I need help.”

(11 year old boy)

“I have dyslexia, my brain is different. At the unit class it is helping me with my reading because I do my reading every day. At school I couldn’t read and write but I can now. My next door nadir is my friend is the same as me and he no how I feels. At home my sister and my brother make fun of me because I can’t say words right and I get upset and cray.”

(11 year old boy)

“I am an eleven year old dyslexic boy and although when I was younger dyslexia got the better of me I now see it as a gift, the power to see the world in a different dimention. As I do not have a spare, non dyslexic mind to compare the way I see the world to I cannot describe how someone like me would see things. But I can say that the mind of a dyslexic is an undoughtably creative one as proved by the almost definitely Leonardo da vinci and Picasso!”

“The relief was enormous when I found out I am dyslexic! I have a very poor short term memory, my reading is inaccurate and when I was tested for dyslexia, my spelling was at the six year old level in P7 (it’s much better now). The school turned out to be great! Once my dyslexia was exposed and my difficulties were out in the open, my teachers gave me a lot of help. Apparently my short term memory does not work like a ‘normal’ person’s, so I forget what has just been said to me – it seems to slide right out of the head. No wonder I could never find the right page!

I used to think that I would end up dropping out of school and end up stacking shelves in some supermarket – but no more. Learning that I have dyslexia has given me a whole new view of life, and I now know that I can have the same ambitions as anyone else – I may just have to take a different route to get there.”

(14 year old girl)

“My oldest daughter is severely dyslexic and looking back on her schooldays reminds me how unhappy they were for her and the family. She was so frustrated by her teachers and her class mates thinking she was stupid, and consequently she was patronised by her teachers and teased by her classmates. I was either battling with her school to give her the proper support she needed, or comforting her at home, or desperately trying to find alternative things in which she could achieve some self esteem.

I always knew she wasn’t stupid so it was a relief when her dyslexia was identified. However, battles continued in the wider world – unable to learn sequences, difficulty in carrying out verbal directions from her driving instructor and often getting on the wrong bus or train because she was unable to read the notice boards. It was a triumph when she made it to university, a dream she never thought she would achieve. My daughter’s determination has been quite extraordinary. In that sense you could say that dyslexia has made her the wonderful person that she is today but it is small comfort for the years of struggling which she has endured.”

(Mother of young adult dyslexic woman)

1.3.1 What is Dyslexia Friendly Practice?

1.4.1 Responsibility of all – Health and Wellbeing