Living with Dyslexia - Dyslexia Association of Ireland

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Living with Dyslexia Information for Adults with Dyslexia Living with Dyslexia Information for Adults with Dyslexia Dyslexia Association of Ireland Suffolk Chambers 1 Suffolk Street, Dublin 2 Tel. 01 6790276 Website: “Discovering that I am dyslexic ... set me on a road to new and unimagined adventures.” Anne Hughes Mary Ball Rosie Bissett Wyn McCormack Living with Dyslexia Information for Adults with Dyslexia ISBN 0-9532427-4-9 D A I . . . D Y S L E X IA A S S O CIATIO N O F IR E L A N D E v ery o n e L earns D iffere ntly

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Page 1: Living with Dyslexia - Dyslexia Association of Ireland

Living with DyslexiaInformation for Adults with Dyslexia

Living w

ith Dyslexia Info


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ith Dyslexia

Dyslexia Association of IrelandSuffolk Chambers1 Suffolk Street, Dublin 2Tel. 01 6790276Website:

“Discovering that I am dyslexic ... set

me on a road to new and unimagined


Anne HughesMary BallRosie BissettWyn McCormack

Living with DyslexiaInformation for Adults with Dyslexia

ISBN 0-9532427-4-9D A I. . .



Everyone Learns Differently

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Living with DyslexiaInformation for Adults with Dyslexia

“Discovering that I am dyslexic ... set

me on a road to new and unimagined


Anne HughesMary BallRosie BissettWyn McCormack

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Copyright © Dyslexia Association of Ireland, 2009.

ISBN 0-9532427-4-9ISBN 978-0-9532427-4-0

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced ortransmitted in any form or by any means without the permission of thepublishers. Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure theaccuracy of the information provided, no liability whatsoever will beaccepted by the authors or publishers for any error in or omissionfrom this book.

Written by Anne Hughes, with contributions from Mary Ball, Rosie Bissettand Wyn McCormack.

The Dyslexia Association of Ireland acknowledges with gratitude,funding from the Department of Community, Rural and GaeltachtAffairs which has made the production of this booklet possible.

Published by Tower Press and the Dyslexia Association of Ireland.Printed by Wood PrintCraft.

D A I. . .


Everyone Learns Differently

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ContentsIntroduction 7

“Breaking Free from the Lie” by Don Mullan 11

Chapter 1: What is Dyslexia? 17

Chapter 2: Dyslexia/Specific Learning Disability. 27

Chapter 3: Psycho-educational Assessment. 35

Chapter 4: Taking Action. 43

Chapter 5: Understanding Dyslexia. 53

Chapter 6: Dyslexia in the Workplace, includingself-help strategies. 61

Chapter 7: Dyslexia – the Human Factor. 83

Chapter 8: How Employers can Help. 93

Chapter 9: Computers and Assistive Technology 105

Appendix A: The Dyslexia Association of Ireland. 119

Appendix B: References and Resources. 121


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AcknowledgementsThe authors would like to thank all those adults withdyslexia who, over the years, have asked the questionsthat this booklet seeks to answer. We hope that it willprovide enough information to get adults with dyslexiastarted on the quest for further knowledge about thecondition which can make life challenging for them.

We particularly want to thank those brave adults who,having experienced unemployment, have returned tostudy at the Career Paths for Dyslexia training course.They were most helpful at the planning stages of thisbooklet. Their comments, suggestions and insight wereinvaluable. The quotations from material which theycontributed, as well as those from Derry Ann and Sam,demonstrate more clearly than any words of ours justhow dyslexia affects the person. We thank them all fortheir generosity.

Special thanks to Emma Matthews, Mary Wafaie,Sheila Kavanagh, Margaret Doyle, Antoinette OʼReillyand Cridwynn Rawlings, who have worked for manyyears on the Career Paths course. They shared theirexperience, expertise and first-hand knowledge ofovercoming dyslexia in adulthood.


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Many thanks also to Don Mullan, a good friend of theDyslexia Association, for having the courage to speakout so honestly about his own dyslexia, and allowing usto reproduce his story here.

Finally, a debt of thanks is due to all those who haveworked with the Dyslexia Association in a professionalor voluntary capacity over the years. Their efforts haveled to a wider awareness of dyslexia. We hope thisbooklet will contribute to an even greaterunderstanding of how dyslexia affects adults and thetremendous potential that exists to turn a differenceinto an advantage.


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IntroductionThis booklet is intended to give relevant information toadults who know that they have dyslexia, to those whothink that they might have, and for those who havenever even considered the possibility.

It is also intended for employers, managers and humanresource personnel. The experience of the DyslexiaAssociation of Ireland over the years has proved thatthe need for such information exists.Despite increased awareness, generated throughmedia coverage, seminars and word of mouth,dyslexia, particularly as it affects adults, is still nottaken seriously enough in this country.There are thousands of Irish adults with dyslexia, manyof whom are unaware that there is a recognisedexplanation for their continuing difficulty with literacy.There are people who have struggled for years withinformation processing difficulties which have seriouslyhindered them at school and at work. There areemployers, supervisors and managers who may neverhave considered that dyslexia impacts on theirworkforce. If they think of dyslexia at all, they probablyconsider it a difficulty of childhood, or of those whonever completed school.


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Dyslexia is a complex condition, but its main effect is tomake learning to read, write and spell difficult. Notimpossible, just difficult. It is not caused by lack ofintelligence, lack of effort or any physical or emotionalproblem. It is an inherited condition and so may bepassed on to children or grandchildren. It is morecommon than is generally realised, affecting 6% to 8%of the population.

There are various theories about what causes dyslexia,but all experts agree that it arises from differences inthe brain which affect how the brain processesinformation. It must be stressed that dyslexia is aʻdifferenceʼ, not a disease or a defect. Yet it is a veryimportant difference, because it has implications formany aspects of the dyslexic personʼs life. In the pastwhen literacy was neither vital to daily life nor veryvalued, having dyslexia was not a drawback.In the future, it may well be that developments ininformation technology will make literacy, as we knowit, irrelevant. Then, the person with dyslexia will not beat a disadvantage at all. Possibly, with good creative,visual and problem solving skills, they will have adistinct advantage. However, in todayʼs society, peoplewith dyslexia are in an unenviable position. Not only iswork, travel and leisure dominated by the written word,but skill in planning, organisation and timemanagement are more important than ever before.Completing tasks to a time schedule, absorbing newinformation quickly and working under pressure arerequirements of every workplace. None of these comeeasily to the person with dyslexia.


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An area which is easily overlooked is the effect whichdyslexia can have on social and family life. Years ofbattling with a world which demands that they engageevery day with the very things they find most difficultcan cause anger and frustration in adults with dyslexia.This can sometimes make them uncomfortable peopleto live or work with and can have implications forpersonal and family relationships.

The number of people involved; those with dyslexia,their families, friends and work colleagues, makes itimperative that a greater understanding is developed ofhow dyslexia affects adults, of the challenges they faceand of the many ways in which these can be overcomeand turned into solid achievement.

The first two chapters of this book provide a basicintroduction to dyslexia and other specific learningdifficulties. Chapter 3 provides information on how toobtain an assessment so that an accurate diagnosis ofthe condition can be made. Chapter 4 lists someoptions for moving forward, while Chapter 5 gives moredetailed information on dyslexia. Chapters 6 and 7 dealwith how dyslexia affects adults socially, while studyingand in the workplace and suggests some strategies forcoping with it. Chapter 8 offers information foremployers. Finally, Chapter 9 provides information onresources and technology. Information on the DyslexiaAssociation is contained in Appendix A, and referencesand resources are listed in Appendix B.

But first – a story. Read the very personal account ofhow dyslexia affected one manʼs life.


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“Breaking Free From theLie” by Don Mullan.“From the first day I went to school I was in trouble withreading.

The year was 1961. It was a year that saw Sovietcosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, become the first man inspace and the year when newly elected John F.Kennedy promised the American people that theywould win the race to the moon. It was also the start ofthe decade when scientists and educators began torealise that specific learning disabilities, such asreading complications caused by dyslexia, werenʼtnecessarily linked to a childʼs IQ.

Unfortunately, for my generation, it would take a coupleof decades more before their discoveries andinnovative recommendations began to filter into theeducation system.

I do not hold any bitterness towards my primary orsecondary school teachers. They were as ignorant astheir pupils about dyslexia and its manifestations. Withlittle awareness teachers engaged in a very flawedassessment process which assumed that readingability was a barometer for measuring a childʼsintelligence. It was the beginning of a self-fulfillingprophecy that left an indelible mark of self-doubt onpupils who, like me, are dyslexic and which hauntslegions of my generation to this day.


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I went to primary school in Derry. It was essentially afilter school, preparing pupils for a horrendous finalexamination called the Eleven-Plus. Those who passedwere given a passport to the more academicallyinclined St. Columbʼs College, where universitybeckoned. Those who ʻfailedʼ were sent to a vocationalsecondary school where expectations led pupilsgenerally towards factory work and the serviceindustries.

From first grade to my final year at primary schoolI fluctuated between the last two rows on the teacherʼsleft. Those to the teacherʼs right were considered to bethe more intelligent and, inevitably, the best readers.As a child I very quickly learned my place in thestratosphere of intellectual giftedness. The systemreligiously adhered to a doctrine of predestination.There were some people born ʻsmartʼ and some bornʻslow.ʼ I happened to be in the latter. Thatʼs the way itwas and there wasnʼt a lot I, or anyone associated withme, could do about it.

I still cringe at the thought of reading out loud beforethe class. Even though I would have spent hours theevening before with my mother learning the assignedhomework pages from our reading book, ʻDick andDoraʼ the words presented themselves as a foreignlanguage when I was in class.

The assumption, of course, was that my readingdifficulties were simply due to a lack of grey matter. Itwas not a system that, unlike today, values theindividuality and uniqueness of the child. School was


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not a fun place to be. Learning was a chore, not a joy.Punishment for ʻfailureʼ reinforced the low self-esteemthat characterises the dyslexic child. Struggling to readout loud, in the presence of other children, whoappeared to effortlessly excel, simply confirmed oneʼssense of stupidity. ʻDunceʼ was a word, thrown like arotten egg in the playground, which shattered oneʼsconfidence and splattered oneʼs self-image withnegativity.

I learned in those early days the inherent power ofwords to wound, or heal, especially when uttered by anadult. Teachers should never underestimate how athrow away remark, either negative or positive, canleave an indelible mark. There are two teachers, inparticular, who taught me the nobility and horror of theteaching profession at primary level.

My favourite teacher was Master Flood. He had acompassionate and caring nature which I recall withgratitude and respect almost four decades later. Therewas never a sense of frustration or favouritism.When his eyes engaged you, you knew you werelooking at an adult who liked and valued you. Fortyyears later I do not recall any words spoken by JohnFlood. I only recall kindness.

I had just turned eleven in my final year at PrimarySchool when our class was placed with Master Gwhose task it was to prepare us for the Eleven Plusexamination. We had him for no more than threeweeks but his influence stayed with me for as manydecades. I learned from him that the average


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intelligence quotient was measured at 100. In thepre-examination tests I was scoring anaverage of 76-84, reinforcing an already woundedself-image.

After our two or three weeks with Master G he drew upa list of those whom he considered capable of passingthe examination. He duly read it aloud. He then askedif there was anyone else in the class whose name wasnot on the list but who wanted to sit the exam. Iraised my hand.

With fixed gaze he looked at me. Then with a pityingsmirk, he lowered his head and spoke the words,“Youʼve no chance!” They were uttered with causticcynicism and the laugher of my classmates, inresponse, indelibly recorded his words in my mind.Those words played over and over and over again,filling me with immense insecurities and self-doubt foralmost thirty years. I still cringe with the memory of thehumiliation they visited upon me at that moment.”

Twenty-seven years later, Don Mullan was diagnosedas having dyslexia. Furthermore, a psycho-educationalassessment confirmed that far from being ʻslowʼ, DonʼsIQ was within the top 5% of the population. Don recalls:

“As the implications of the report began to sink in, thewords “youʼve no chance” echoed in my head.However, they no longer conjured feelings of self-doubtand despondency, but a volcano of rage. My firstthought was for the teacher who spoke them.


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I needed to confront him with the decades of damagehe had done and the potential he had crushed.”

Fortunately, Don Mullan overcame his anger. Hefocused his energy instead on coping with his dyslexia.He undertook challenges in his work which he had nothad the courage to tackle previously. Being diagnosedwith dyslexia was akin to the life changing revelation ofSaul on the road to Damascus. He says:

“The most liberating insight is knowing that my readingdifficulties, including my perpetual struggle with spellingand grammar, have little to do with intelligence. Mymind works in a different way and, thankfully, I havebeen blessed with a creative imagination that neverleaves me bored.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all havedifferent gifts to share and much to learn. Iʼve stoppedbeating myself up because I canʼt do certain thingswhich I see others do with little effort. I have learned tocelebrate the success of others and know thatwhatever success I have achieved is due, in no smallmeasure, to the goodness, support andencouragement of others. Being dyslexic hastaught me that sharing and caring is core to humanhappiness and fulfilment.

So, I am not ashamed to publicly declare that I amdyslexic. I do so in the knowledge that there areprobably legions of my generation who have acceptedthe lie that their reading difficulties are due to a


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deficiency in intellectual attributes. I went through myadolescence and early adulthood doubting myintellectual capabilities. Discovering that I am dyslexicdispelled the lie and set me on a road to new andunimagined adventures. I have no doubt that there arethousands of adults who are underachieving and whoare not reaching their full potential because, aschildren, they accepted, as a supreme truth, that lie.

Discovering that I am dyslexic quite literally set me freefrom it.”

The full text of Don Mullanʼs biographical piece“Breaking free from the Lie” can be found

Don Mullan is the best-selling author ofʻEyewitness Bloody Sundayʼ.This book was a major catalyst in the re-opening ofthe Bloody Sunday Inquiry by Tony Blair in 1998.The book also inspired the making of theaward-winning film Bloody Sunday which wascoproduced by Mullan.

Don Mullan is a writer and journalist with aninternational reputation. His contribution to humanrights was acknowledged by the InternationalLeague for Human Rights at the United Nations in2002 when he was awarded theirDefenders of Human Dignity Award.


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Chapter 1What is Dyslexia?Two adults with dyslexia were asked what dyslexiameans to them.This is what they said:

Sam (Diagnosed with dyslexia in primary school):

“Dyslexia would be no big deal if people onlyunderstood it. You can learn to handle it but youmust get help, and you have to keep working atit. The annoying thing for me is how some peoplereact. It can take me longer to get the hang ofsomething new and there are some things, likemaths, that I donʼt get at all.

Other things I can understand immediately andIʼd say I have a wider knowledge in a lot of areasthan most people. But I can get confused. I canmiss a point or forget something important.

Then people react as if you are the village idiot.It used to make me angry when teachers carriedon as if I was stupid because I found somethingdifficult that other people found easy. As an adultit is much easier because now I wonʼt take thatanymore.”

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Derry Ann (Diagnosed as an adult):

“Dyslexia is part of me. That is what I am. Take itor leave it. It makes me do things differently.It helps me to see things that other people donʼt.I can find solutions, work my way round situationsand think myself through difficulties. School wasvery hard for me. Reading and spelling were sodifficult. No matter how hard I tried I just could notremember what I had learned. It was an unhappytime, nobody understood and I didnʼt understandmyself.

Since I was diagnosed as having dyslexia theworld has fallen into place for me and I haveachieved more than I ever thought possiblebecause I now know what caused my difficulties.Now I believe in myself and follow my owninstincts, develop my own strengths and learn bydoing, which is what suits me best.”

For Sam and Derry Ann dyslexia is a very personalissue. Problems they experienced were caused not justby their dyslexia, but by the lack of understanding inthe people they met. While awareness of dyslexia hasincreased greatly in recent years, there is still a longway to go until dyslexia is seen not merely as adifficulty, but as a difference. It is a different way ofthinking, a different way of seeing things, a differentway of processing information. Itʼs a differencewhich could, and should, be appreciated for its positiveaspects.


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Defining DyslexiaOver the years since dyslexia was first written about,there have been numerous definitions and descriptionsof what it is and how it can be identified. At first it wasdescribed as word blindness, then as strephosymbolia,meaning a twisting of symbols and eventually asdyslexia. The word dyslexia comes from the Greekdus/dys meaning bad or difficult and lexis meaningword, vocabulary or language.

Dyslexia can be written about in terms of how onelearns to read and write; or in terms of subtledifferences in the way the brain responds to the writtenword. These differences make it more than usuallydifficult to learn to read, write and, sometimes, dealwith numbers.

On the other side, it is documented that people withdyslexia can be more advanced in the ways they see,understand and process nonverbal information and canbe very creative and novel in problemsolving.

Dyslexia is an all-embracing term. It describes acomplex of processing activities and abilities whichcome into play when one needs to read and write.These processes and abilities are also likely to affecthow one learns, organises a task and deals with manyeveryday tasks. One lives with dyslexia. As it is not amedical problem it cannot be cured. As it is genetic itdoes not go away. The person with dyslexia can adaptand find new ways to deal with information processing,thus getting around the original difficulties, and oftenexploiting their strengths to do this.


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Dyslexia can occur at different degrees of difficulty,mild to severe. Because there are a number of differentʻindicatorsʼ there may be different combinations ofdifficulties from person to person: in any group ofpeople with dyslexia there are a range of abilities anddifficulties both within the individual and between theindividuals. Some will have greater difficulty. Some willhave greater ability. Usually the reading and writingdelay is quite unexpected, given the individualʼsalertness and good ability in other aspects of learning.

When the Task Force on Dyslexia, set up by theMinister for Education and Science, published itsReport in July 2001, it defined dyslexia as follows:

“Dyslexia is manifested in a continuum of specificlearning difficulties related to the acquisition ofbasic skills in reading, spelling and/or writing, suchdifficulties being unexpected in relation to anindividualʼs other abilities and educationalexperiences. Dyslexia can be described at theneurological, cognitive and behavioural levels. It istypically characterised by inefficient informationprocessing, including difficulties in phonologicalprocessing, working memory, rapid naming andautomaticity of basic skills. Difficulties inorganisation, sequencing and motor skills mayalso be present.”


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Academic definitions of dyslexia generally present it interms of the difficulties it causes. While this approach isoften criticised by people with dyslexia it has to beadmitted that in todayʼs society, which is so dependenton the written word, dyslexia does indeed causeproblems. The most widely recognised are:

� Unexpected difficulty with literacy and numeracy.� Difficulties in recognising the sound structures of a

language (phonological difficulties).� Poor working memory, i.e. retaining information long

enough to be able to do something with it such ascalculate how much change you should get back,connect paragraph with paragraph of what you haveread.

� Delay in finding the right word quickly when youneed it, e.g. naming an object/experienceaccurately, or relating the symbols you see on thepage with the word you know in your head.

� Delay in becoming automatic in a skill, particularly inthe skills of reading and spelling.

Main Characteristics/Indicators of DyslexiaThe ways in which dyslexia has an impact on day-to-day living tend to change over the years. In primaryschool the focus is on learning to read, write and spell.The main difficulties experienced will be in matchingsounds of words with patterns of letters andremembering which direction letters face. Difficultieswith motor co-ordination, memory and attention willalso be noted.


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In secondary school the student must read to learn.The challenge, therefore, is to be able to deal with therange of subjects, the volume of reading and writingrequired and to prepare for and manage timedexaminations.

In adult life reading and writing still present difficultiesbut so do planning, organising, speed of processing,memory and sometimes clumsiness. Slowerprocessing of auditory and visual information, difficultywith working memory, phonological difficulty and poorspelling are aspects of dyslexia which are constant andwhich do not go away when one leaves school. It maystill be hard to read fluently when reading aloud. Mostadults with dyslexia have to use memos andcalculators and a host of strategies to remind them oftasks to be done, names and numbers to beremembered and directions to be followed. Manycontinue to have difficulty attending to a long lectureor speech. Listening and taking notes at the same timemay be very difficult. They can have difficulty inremembering names, addresses or telephonenumbers. Difficulties in managing time and organisingtasks are aspects of work and home life which needconstant attention.


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However, the adult with dyslexia may also havedeveloped other learning skills and characteristics thatstand them in good stead. Many adults with dyslexiaare very thorough, because they leave nothing tochance. They plan carefully because they have to beprepared. Having had to work much harder than theirpeers while at school or college, they develop theability to apply themselves to a task and perseveredespite setbacks. Having overcome a lot of difficultiesin acquiring skills which most people learn to doautomatically, or with relative ease, they are more likelyto believe in their own ability to achieve their goals.

Below are lists of indicators which may show that adyslexic difficulty is present. When looking at the listsof indicators, remember the following:

� No person will have all the indicators.� Many people will have several of the indicators.� Some indicators are more common than others.� The number of indicators observed does not

indicate whether the dyslexia is mild, moderate orsevere.

� Everyone has strengths and weaknesses so peoplewho do not have dyslexia will relate to a few of thesigns. People who have dyslexia will tend to relateto a significant number of the following indicators.


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Indicators of a possible learning difficulty arisingfrom dyslexia in adults:

� Difficulty with reading aloud.� Difficulty with reading unfamiliar material.� Tendency to mispronounce or misread words.� Slow pace of reading.� Reading for information only, not for pleasure.� Understanding more easily when listening than

when reading.� Difficulty with spelling.� Finding it hard to visualise words, or remember the

sequence of letters in a word.� Difficulty with sentence construction and

punctuation.� Difficulty putting information on paper.� Difficulty in spotting mistakes made in written work.� Finding it easier to express thoughts in words than

in writing.� Underachieving at school, particularly in exams.� Having immature or ill formed handwriting.� Tendency to be clumsy and uncoordinated.� Confusing left and right.� Finding it hard to remember things in sequence.� Difficulty in remembering new information or new

names.� Getting phone messages wrong.� Confusion with times and dates and appointments.� Getting phone numbers wrong by perhaps

reversing digits.


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� Making ʻsillyʼ mistakes in calculations.� Having ʻgoodʼ days and ʻbadʼ days.� Poor short-term memory.� Having close family members with dyslexia.

An adult who suspects that s/he may have dyslexiaand who finds they experience many of thedifficulties listed above, might be well advised toseek a full psycho-educational assessment.(See chapter 3 for further information onassessment.)


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Chapter 2Dyslexia/SpecificLearning Disability (SLD)

Many people are confused about the terms used todescribe dyslexia.

Should it more properly be called ʻspecific learningdisabilityʼ, ʻspecific learning difficultyʼ, or evenʻlearning style differenceʼ? How do you differentiatebetween dyslexia and the other specific learningdisabilities? And how do you define conditions likedyscalculia?

Specific learning disability is an umbrella term. Sincethe 1990s it has been used to describe a number ofspecific, as distinct from general learning disabilities.Specific difficulties only affect certain aspects oflearning. General learning difficulties affect everyaspect of learning.

Dyslexia is only one specific learning disability.Others are:

� Dyscalculia.� Dyspraxia.� Attention Deficit Disorder (with or without

Hyperactivity).� Aspergerʼs Syndrome.


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These conditions often carry over into adulthood andhave profound implications for students and workers.While each of these is distinct from the other it isrecognised that a person with dyslexia can also showsigns of inattention, like the person with AttentionDeficit Disorder; or have difficulty with maths, like theperson with dyscalculia; or be clumsy, like the personwith dyspraxia. There does seem to be an overlapbetween the Specific Learning Difficulties in manycases.

DyscalculiaIt is reckoned that over 50% of people with dyslexiahave problems with mathematics. In extreme cases thisdifficulty is called dyscalculia. Dyscalculia results indifficulty with understanding, remembering ormanipulating numbers and number facts. It can alsocause problems with estimating measurements, thepassing of time and spatial reasoning. It cansometimes be true that people who have difficultieswith fairly simple arithmetic do not have any problemswith more abstract mathematical concepts. Dyscalculiais a much less researched disability than dyslexia andit is likely that in the coming years much more will berevealed about the condition.


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Sam, who experiences great difficulty with maths,says:“Maths means nothing to me. I am not interested. Ican handle money, pay bills and deal with practicalthings. I am fine when sums are even, like €3.50from €5.00 but when itʼs a case of €2.36 and €1.43I get confused. I just canʼt understand abstractconcepts like algebra. When I see 3x + 2y I justswitch off. Iʼve never worked out my income tax andthings like that. I just accept my payslip.”

For further information read “Dealing with Dyscalculia:Sum Hope 2” by Steve Chinn (2007)ISBN 978-0285637986.

DyspraxiaThe aspects of Dyspraxia most likely to causeproblems for adults are lack of fine motor co-ordination(which can result in illegible handwriting), clumsiness,sensitivity to noise and changing light, limitedconcentration and difficulty following instructions.Learning to drive a car, to dance, play a musicalinstrument or to play ball games can all be difficult.Even basic everyday activities like eating neatly,painting finger nails or putting on mascara could beaffected. Many of the workplace problems which arisefrom dyspraxia are very similar to those caused bydyslexia and the two are frequently confused.People with dyspraxia often have dyslexic typedifficulties and the two conditions are very closelylinked. The following books are recommended for thoseseeking more information on dyspraxia:

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� Developmental Dyspraxia – by M. Portwood, 1999,ISBN 978-1853469886.

� Living with Dyspraxia – by M. Colley, 2006,ISBN 978-1843104520.

The Dyspraxia Association of Ireland also offersinformation, advice and support. Tel. 01

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders(ADD/ADHD)ADD/ADHD describes a condition where the personhas more than usual difficulty maintaining attention forany length of time and is highly distractible,disorganised and forgetful.

A rather weary woman once described herhyperactive husband as being:

“Like the Duracell bunny, always on the go,bouncing around the place, full of bright ideasand suggestions but itʼs left to me to pick up thepieces.”

The person may take up new ideas very enthusias-tically, but lose interest just as quickly. Routine tasksmay be unattractive and putting things on the ʻlongfingerʼ is a way of life. In recent years it has beenacknowledged that ADD can exist with hyperactivity, orwithout it, but in either case the core difficulty is withability to control attention.


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A great deal of research has been done in the UnitedStates on this topic.

Dr. Lynn Weiss, author of “ADD on the Job” identifiesthree types of ADD personality which she calls:Outwardly Expressive; Inwardly Directed andHighly Structured.

The Outwardly Expressive person will be both verballyand physically hyperactive, impulsive and outgoing,taking on huge projects which may never becompleted.

The Inwardly Directed she describes as restlessdreamers who are artistic, creative people, who thinkrather than do. These are the people usually diagnosedas having Attention Deficit Disorder withoutHyperactivity.

The Highly Structured are controlling and hyperfocused. If the structured environment in which theyneed to work is not provided, life becomes difficult foreveryone, but in the right circumstances they workextremely efficiently.


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Dr. Weiss offers practical advice for dealing withADD/ADHD in the workplace. She describes it, ineffect, as a double edged sword. Like dyslexia it isgenetic and it results in a different style of thinking.People with ADD can be very creative and intuitive.Those with ADHD can be extremely energetic andproductive if channeled correctly. Both these conditionscan be accommodated in the workplace and utilized togood effect.

For further information read “ADD on the Job: MakingYour ADD Work for You” by L. Weiss (1996),ISBN 978-0878339174.

Information, advice and support is available from theHADD Family Support Group, Tel. 01 874

Aspergerʼs SyndromeThe term Aspergerʼs Syndrome came into use asrecently as 1983, in a paper published by Burgoine andWing which describes the features that are consideredto characterise the disability. In the 1940s a Viennesepaediatrician, Hans Asperger, had already identifiedthese, hence the name. Aspergerʼs Syndrome isusually classified under the Autistic SpectrumDisorders.


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The following are the core features of AspergerʼsSyndrome:

� Lack of empathy.� Poor ability to form friendships.� One-sided conversations.� Intense absorption in a special interest.� Poor verbal communication.� Odd postures and clumsy movements.

It should be remembered that the presence of any oneor any cluster of these features do not in themselvesindicate Aspergerʼs Disorder, for example, poorcommunication skills, and consequently poor abilityto hold a two-sided conversation, may be caused by alanguage disorder. The only way to get a true diagnosisis to have an appropriate assessment which iswide-ranging and thorough.

People with Aspergerʼs Syndrome are often quiteacademic and may function well in a highly structuredsituation. While school life may suit them, the challengeof the workplace can be greater, particularly if flexibilityand adaptability are required.

For further information read – “The Asperger SocialGuide” – by G. Edmonds and D. Worton, 2006,Chapman Educational Publishing.ISBN 978-1412920247.

Information, advice and support is available fromAspire, the Asperger Syndrome Association,Tel. 01 878


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Chapter 3Psycho-EducationalAssessment

The only way in which dyslexia can be positivelyidentified in an adult is by carrying out a thoroughpsycho-educational assessment. There are fourstages in a personʼs quest to have his/her dyslexiaidentified according to McLoughlin, Fitzgibbon andYoung (1994). These are:1. Information gathering.2. Psychological testing and diagnosis.3. Developing an understanding of dyslexia.4. Taking action.

Information GatheringThis can be more difficult than one would imagine.Obviously it is necessary to know about a condition inorder to suspect that one might have it. Many adultswho have dyslexia have never even heard the wordand have no idea of how it affects learning. They are,therefore, unlikely to seek assessment unlessencouraged by someone who knows about thecondition. There is a great deal which can be done tohelp adults with dyslexia, both in terms of formalteaching and self-help techniques. Again, informationabout the possibilities of further action afterassessment needs to be available.


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The internet has made information gathering muchsimpler for those of the community who use computers,but many people, particularly those with literacydifficulties are not regular users. The DyslexiaAssociation of Ireland has a free public informationservice. The phone number is 01 6790276 and anyonemay call during normal office hours. The website

Psychological Testing and DiagnosisThe second step, psychological testing, is moredifficult. Assessment is costly, difficult to obtain and noteveryone believes that it is essential. Psycho-educational assessment is carried out by apsychologist and can range in cost from €400 to €700.There is no state provision for adults, even for thosewho are unemployed or who have a medical card. Itcan also be hard to locate a suitably qualifiedpsychologist and waiting lists tend to be long.

The Dyslexia Association of Ireland has been carryingout assessments for adults for over 30 years. TheAssociation is able to fund some assessments foradults who would otherwise be unable to have anassessment, i.e. people on social welfare or low-income families. This facility depends on funding fromthe Department of Education and Science but thisfunding is not guaranteed from year to year. Therefore,the association also relies heavily on fund raisingto supplement government funding for this purpose.


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Is Assessment Necessary?It is important to discover just why a learning difficultyexists, because unless you know the precise nature ofthe problem, it is not going to be possible to deal with iteffectively. Psycho-educational assessment for adultsis about pinpointing the difficulty and advising onremediation. It is not about putting a label on theperson. A diagnosis of lung cancer does not create alabel. Instead it gives medical experts the informationthey need to prescribe suitable treatment. Likewise, adiagnosis of dyslexia enables a person to begin theprocess of dealing with the condition. It is often anenormous relief for adults, who have felt stupid andinadequate all through life, to realise that they have anidentifiable difficulty. In all fairness, adults with dyslexiaare entitled to this knowledge about themselves.Knowledge empowers and knowing about acondition is the first step towards managing it.

The technology now exists to carry out screening andcertain assessment procedures on computer.Screening tests, whether paper or computer based,can be a valuable starting point, but they do notprovide comprehensive information and a basis forfuture action. Computer based assessments, howeversophisticated, lack the human element. The assessingpsychologist needs to take the personʼs medical andeducational history, as well as other environmentalfactors into account before a reliable conclusion canbe reached. Besides, there will inevitably be manyissues for the newly diagnosed adult to deal with;regret for wasted years, anger at past treatment inschool or at work or fear of the future.


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These are best handled in a professional way by atrained psychologist.

Only a psychologist may carry out the necessarypsychometric testing. McLoughlin et al (1994) say:

“The accurate diagnosis of dyslexia requires themeasurement of general ability and workingmemory. Any procedure that fails to incorporateappropriate cognitive tests is likely to produce bothfalse positives and false negatives.”

The authors add that the appropriate assessment ofintelligence is one of the most crucial factors indiagnosis. This stands to reason. There are manyreasons why adults have literacy difficulties anddyslexia is only one of them. While the effects ofliteracy difficulties are similar, the causes are verydifferent. The results of the International Adult LiteracySurvey, published in 1997, indicated that 25% of Irishadults had pronounced literacy problems. The reasonsfor these difficulties could be early school leaving,irregular school attendance, overcrowded classrooms,lack of family support for learning, low academic abilityor dyslexia. If the latter two factors are confused, asthey often were in the schoolrooms of the past, theresult can be disastrous.


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The Assessment ProcessThe reason why a person who suspects they may havedyslexia seeks a psycho-educational assessment is todetermine whether they do indeed have a dyslexic-typedifficulty, the nature and extent of the problem and howthey can be helped to cope. The focus of theassessment, therefore, is on finding out how theperson learns and helping them to use their bestlearning channels. Its aim is positive – to put theperson in the driving seat in relation to their own lives.

The psycho-educational assessment begins with areview of the personʼs family and school history. Areasof difficulty encountered are listed and family incidenceof dyslexia is noted. Some standard tests are used toassess how the individual copes with academiclearning. This is the I.Q. test. It is carried out, not topinpoint a score on a graph, but to look at how theperson tackles different tasks and in the relativestrengths they show. Reading, writing and spellingskills are also looked at, with a view to identifyingproblem areas and suggesting strategies to overcomedifficulties.

A psycho-educational assessment is not an exam. It isnot intended to put the individual under stress and it isnot possible to ʻfailʼ such an assessment. While manypeople approach an assessment with the same anxietyas they would a driving test, others see it as theirchance to find out just why they have found someaspects of learning difficult. The procedure usuallytakes around three hours and will probably includediscussion on the results of the assessment and adviceon future action.


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The psychologist should provide an adult with a writtenreport on the findings of the assessment. Sometimesthis report is written in very technical language andmay be difficult to understand. It may be necessary tocontact the psychologist to discuss the actualimplications of the assessment and of the informationcontained in the report. It should be remembered thatan assessment report has to contain precise andtechnical information which will be needed by aneducational institution, or a tutor. It also needs toexplain the findings in a way which can be understoodby the lay person. It is not easy to meet both theseneeds in one document. The adult with dyslexia shouldbe prepared to read the report several times, and togo back to it again over the months or years as theirknowledge of dyslexia grows. A good tip is to look atwhat the report has to say about where the individualʼsstrengths lie, because these are the key to successfullearning.

Adults who are recently diagnosed may also need totake on board and deal with any feelings of anger orfrustration which the assessment process aroused.Sometimes counselling by an appropriate professionalperson may be necessary.


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It is really important that the results and implications ofassessment are fully explained to the individual. Adultswho understand their own profile of learning strengthsand weaknesses will be much more aware of their ownpreferred learning style. Learning styles are explainedin Chapter 5, while self-help strategies are offered inChapter 6.

Knowledge of strengths and personal learning stylescan also help an individual to make the best possiblecareer choice. Ideally one should choose a careerwhich taps into their stronger abilities and aptitudes, asopposed to a career which places huge demands ontheir weaker skills.


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Chapter 4Taking Action

It is very important to have a full diagnosis ofdyslexia and to find out just what causes specificdifficulties in the area of literacy. It is equallyimportant to know what can be done to improvematters. Each person will have different learningstrengths and weaknesses. Each personal situationwill differ. Some will have greater difficulty thanothers. Some will have money available with whichto buy specialized teaching help or technology.Some will not. Some employers will beunderstanding of a dyslexic type difficulty andprepared to make adjustments in the workplace.Some will not.

So, what are the possible next steps for an adultdiagnosed with dyslexia?

1. Tuition with a specifically trained teacher.2. Full-time study.3. Understanding how dyslexia affects them.4. Self-help techniques to overcome the difficulties.5. Use of information technology.


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Individual TuitionIdeally, an adult with dyslexia should work with aspecifically trained teacher who uses the informationprovided by a thorough psychoeducational assessmentto devise an effective teaching programme.Best results are obtained when teaching is provided onan intensive and consistent basis. Successfully tutoringadults with dyslexia requires considerable skill andtraining. The Dyslexia Association of Ireland maintainsa list of such teachers and this is available to members.Tutors work at all levels. Some will take on studentswith very severe literacy difficulties. Others are quitehappy to work with students engaged in post-graduatestudies. Tutors respond to the individual needs of thestudent and the important thing is to match student andtutor so that a good working relationship develops.Fees are in the range of €35 to €50 per hour. Limitedfunding may be available from the Dyslexia Associationfor those unable to meet these fees, i.e. adults who areon social welfare, or where family income is low.

Tuition may also be obtained through local adultliteracy services, which now have some tutorsexperienced in working with adults with dyslexia.Information can be obtained from the National AdultLiteracy Agency, or from local Vocational EducationCommittees.


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Full-time CoursesA full-time course for unemployed adults with dyslexiais sponsored by the Dyslexia Association andadministered by FÁS. This course, which is the onlyone of its kind in Ireland so far, is located in Celbridge,Co. Kildare. It has been running since 1998 and in thattime has helped hundreds of adults to tacklelong-standing literacy difficulties and move on to workor further study.

A former student, Brendan, writes:

“I found the experience of returning to learning tobe very positive and rewarding, and I really relishedthe classroom atmosphere and the variousdiscussions that take place there.This course reintroduced me to learning, helpingme to help myself in finding out where my problemlay.”

Brendan is now in full-time third level education.

Ciaran, like many others who attend the Career Pathscourse found school life very difficult. He says “it washell on earth. I spent my school days in misery”. He leftschool after Junior Cert and apprenticed as a plumber,but his working life had its problems too.

“I quickly realised that my dyslexia was not justaffecting my school work but it was affecting medoing my job. I started to find that I had to go backand check everything twice. I found it hard to read


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the measuring tape. It was unlucky that I workedfor a big company because I was apprenticed withone person for a while. When they saw that I wasnot up to scratch they would recommend to theboss that I go working with someone else in thecompany.”

Ciaran eventually lost his job and was unemployed foralmost a year. He was at ʻrock bottomʼ when heenrolled on the course. Having given up school at age15 he found it strange to be back in a class room witha pen and paper. He persevered and as he says …

“I started to see a big improvement in literacy andalong with personal development I found myconfidence lifting and I am somewhere for the firsttime where I am not feeling anxious, nervous andall of the other bad feelings that go along withdyslexia. My life is much improved. I will finish mytime in the Career Path centre where I amconcentrating on getting ready for college and Ihope to take a course in Media Studies.”

Information about the Career Paths course is availablefrom:

� Career Paths Course, Office No. 1, The Mill,Celbridge, Co. Kildare. Tel. 01 627 0805.

� Dyslexia Association. Tel. 01 679

� Any FÁS office. Course Code AT58F.


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Further StudyMany adults are motivated to have a psycho-educational assessmentwhen they plan to takefurther courses.Conversely, many adultsdecide to return toeducation when theyhave had an assessmentand become aware oftheir own potential.Whatever the motivation, it is very encouraging to notethe variety of help and support which is now availableto students with dyslexia in further education.

Most colleges and educational bodies now recognisedyslexia as a specific learning disability and putarrangements in place to cater for students. Proof ofthe existence of a specific learning disability, in theform of an up-to-date and comprehensive psycho-educational assessment is usually required. Asprovisions vary from one college or institute to another,it is advisable to contact the Disability SupportOffice of an individual organisation to check whataccommodations are put in place. It may also benecessary for the student to be very active in ensuringthat the support promised is received, as resourcesare limited and sometimes the promised support doesnot translate into help on the ground.


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Accommodations provided may include: a more flexibleapproach to entry requirements to a particular course;there may be support available by provision ofspecialised tuition, or by provision of informationtechnology. In many universities and colleges, lecturenotes may be made available, even before the lectureand may be available on internet or intranet afterwards.Extra time may be given when sitting examinations;use of a dictaphone or computer may be allowed; anextension of deadlines for the completion of essays orwritten projects may be negotiated and in some casesexaminers are prepared to consider oral answers tosupplement written answers to examination questions.

Gaining qualificationsFor the adult who wants to gain qualifications which willbe useful in terms of employment, there are manypossibilities. It is possible to study by day or by night oron-line. In order to make an informed decision abouthow worthwhile a course is, it is necessary tounderstand the National Framework of Qualifications( This framework was introduced in 2003. Itis a system of ten levels that incorporates awardsmade for all kinds of learning, wherever it happens.The NFQ, through its ten levels, provides a means ofcomparing and contrasting national and internationaleducation and training qualifications. It makes it easierfor people to explain what qualifications they hold orare studying for. This is very important whenconsidering further learning or applying for a jobabroad. It helps learners to plan their education andtraining and it helps employers to identify thequalifications they require.


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School qualifications awarded by the StateExaminations Commission, further education andtraining qualifications awarded by FETAC and highereducation and training qualifications awarded byHETAC, Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), otherinstitutes of technology and the universities all slot intothis framework. The levels which might be of interest toadults returning to education are as follows:

Level Examples of courses at this levelLevel 3 Junior Certificate.Level 4 Leaving Certificate and other courses.Level 5 Leaving Certificate and PLCs.Level 6 Higher Certificate Courses in CAO.Level 7 CAO Ordinary Degree.Level 8 CAO Honours Degree.Level 9 Masters Degree.Level 10 Doctorate (PhD).

Choosing CoursesThere are different routes and structures to obtainingnew qualifications. Qualifications can be offered in avariety of ways from distance learning, to eveningcourses to full time courses. Below are a number ofwebsites which might help the person thinking ofreturning to education and learning. Some sites includecareer interest assessment which might be helpful indeciding which course to pursue.


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www.nightcourses.comThis site gives a database and search facility to look fora night course.

www.aontas.comThe National Adult Learning Organisation promotes alearning society through the provision of acomprehensive system of adult learning and educationwhich is accessible to and inclusive to all. It providesa list of websites which provide on-line distancelearning among other valuable information.

www.oscail.ieOscail, the National Distance Education Centre ofIreland, offers the opportunity to receive Irish universityqualifications through distance learning.

www.learningpoint.ieThis site is a one stop shop for training anddevelopment for staff and volunteers working incommunity and voluntary organisations in Ireland.

www.eveningcourses.ieWebsite for evening courses.

www.daycourses.ieWebsite for day courses.


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www.qualifax.ieThis site is the National Database for third level andfurther education courses in Ireland. Qualifax is a onestop shop for information on courses for guidancecounsellors and students. Included are links tocolleges and other education/training organisations. Itincludes an extensive list of careers as well as thedefinitive calendar of career events and an interestassessment to assist prospective students in makingchoices.

www.ncirl.ieThe website for the National College of Irelandprovided details of distance learning, part-time andevening courses. Open University offers 360 undergraduate andpost-graduate courses and is one of the biggestproviders of distance learning.

www.careersportal.ieThis is an Irish resource dedicated to those who wantto plan their career. The site includes a selfassessment questionnaire, information on popularcareer categories, a database of careers and a coursefinder facility.

www.careerdirections.ieThis site includes a database on careers as well as acareer interest assessment.


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www.skillsireland.ieThis is a Government website. It includes advice to theGovernment on the current and future skills needed forthe Irish economy.

Bank of Ireland Millennium Scholarʼs Trust. Thistrust is applied to the creation of scholarships forpeople of talent and ability who due to economiccircumstances or other barriers such as disability, havebeen unable to reach their full potential. This and otherscholarships are available from many colleges.


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Chapter 5Understanding DyslexiaThe most positive result of a psycho-educationalassessment for an adult is often the validation which itprovides. Self-esteem and selfconfidence are likely tobe very badly affected by adverse school experiencesand failure to reach potential in the workplace. Apositive assessment often provides the encouragementnecessary to go for job promotion or to take on furtherstudy. Derry Ann is typical of many adults who haddyslexia diagnosed in adulthood. She found theprocess helped her to understand why she hadexperienced learning difficulties. It removed the guiltshe had felt that somehow she had been to blame forher difficulties. It encouraged her to explore her ownpotential.

The first thing Derry Ann did was to learn everythingshe could about dyslexia.

“I joined the Dyslexia Association. I read every bitof literature I could find. I attended conferencesand I talked to other people. I was a woman on amission. The more I learned the stronger Ibecame. I felt that now I could hold my head upand say to anyone “I have dyslexia, I am notstupid”. I realized that I am perfectly entitled tohave my own way of learning. For example, if Iget new equipment I will ask someone to show


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me how it works and then Iʼll practice till I get itright. I know thereʼs no point in sitting down toread a manual of instruction. I donʼt feel badabout that. I will help anyone else who has aproblem if I can, and I donʼt mind asking otherpeople for help. I donʼt try to hide anymore.”

How much dyslexia affects a personʼs life depends onmany factors: the age at which the condition wasdiagnosed, the degree of severity, the ability of theindividual, the type and quality of support received –both educational and social, the job or career chosenand even the personality of the individual.

Some people are lucky enough to have had theirdyslexia identified as children and to have receivedsupport through their school years.They have had an opportunity to understand their ownlearning difficulties and to take them into account whenplanning further education or choosing a career. Thefact that they have overcome basic literacy difficultiesand even secured satisfactory results in examinationsdoes not mean that they have been ʻcuredʼ of theirdyslexia. Information processing difficulties, poor shortterm memory, auditory processing deficits or hand-eyeco-ordination difficulties do not go away. A person whochose a work area where literacy was not of vitalimportance could find that promotion or changing workpractices require them to read and write a great dealmore. Another could discover that dealing with clientsabroad demands second language skills which werenot acquired at school. Updating computer skills,


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learning to use new technology or new equipment,re-training which has to be undertaken in certainsectors of industry, can all be difficult for a person whothought that dyslexia was left behind with schooldays.If the difficulties encountered at school were severe,then the adult may well have a reluctance to re-enter alearning situation. Knowledge of dyslexia and theopportunities which are now available to supportpeople with dyslexia might be the key to further studyor work opportunity.

Living with DyslexiaIf you have recently found out that you have dyslexia orif you are now about to tackle the problem the followingideas might be helpful:

� Find out as much as possible about your ownparticular situation. Dyslexia can be mild orsevere. It can affect the academically gifted, theaverage learner or the less able. It can beaccompanied by attention and concentrationproblems, dyspraxia, speech and languagedifficulties and by anxiety conditions. It is veryimportant to be aware of your own profile.The person who can tell you this is thepsychologist who carried out the psycho-educational assessment. Donʼt be afraid to ask.Itʼs your life. If you were assessed as a child anddid not receive this information then considerhaving a new assessment and asking questionsnow.


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� One piece of information which your psychologistmay be able to give you relates to your personallearning style. While there are different opinionson the whole question of learning styles, the mostcommonly accepted styles are: Visual; Auditoryand Kinaesthetic. If you identify the learning stylewhich suits you best you will be able to developstrategies to build on your strengths andcompensate for your weaknesses.

Visual Learners like to see things. They tend tothink in pictures and like to have illustrations,

charts, diagrams, graphs, mindmaps and videos when theylearn. It helps to rewrite notes,to put information on indexcards or post-it notes and to

re-create images in their minds.

Auditory Learners think in wordsrather than pictures. They learnbest by listening and benefitfrom taping information andreplaying it. It helps if theydiscuss material to be learnedwith others, participate in classdiscussions, ask questions of theteacher and even try teachingothers. Reading aloud can behelpful when trying to remember information.


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Kinaesthetic Learners are the ʻhands-onʼ people.They learn best when they can dosomething. Actually wiring a circuitboard would be much moreinformative than reading a text bookor listening to a lecture about it.When learning from text it helps to

underline important points, use colour to highlightor make notes in the margin. Repeatinginformation while walking can also help.

� Take positive action. If you were advised by theassessing psychologist to seek professional helpto improve your literacy, or to support you in furtherstudy, then go ahead. The Dyslexia Association ofIreland keeps a list of qualified teachers who offerindividual tuition to adults with dyslexia. TheDyslexia Association also sponsors a full-timecourse for adults. This is administered by FÁS.Details of the course can be found in Chapter 4.This course is a very useful means for adults whohave been unemployed or working in the home toupgrade their literacy skills and acquire computertraining.


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� If you left school without achieving formalqualifications, consider the possibility of goingback into education. There is a wide variety ofchoices – from night classes at your local collegeof further education to access courses foruniversity. Have a look at the section GainingQualifications in Chapter 4. As an adult, with lifeexperience and maturity, you may be surprised atyour success.

� The Adult Education Guidance Initiative offersinformation, advice and guidance on a one-to-onebasis for adults who wish to return to education.This valuable service is provided by theDepartment of Education and Science and can beaccessed through the National Centre forGuidance in Education, 42-43 Prussia Street,Dublin 7. Phone: 01 8690715.Email: [email protected] Website:

� Employers are increasingly becoming aware ofdyslexia. Once you have a diagnosis of dyslexiaand a written report it is worthwhile talking to yoursupervisor or employer to see what supportthey can offer. Have a look at the suggestions inChapter 6 and tell your employer about any thatwould help you.


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� You may find that the attitude of family andfriends towards you changes now that it has beenestablished that you have dyslexia. They willrealise that there is a good reason for thedifficulties you may have had at school, or in work.You may also find that your own self-esteem risesand you become more confident. This is, perhaps,the most common side effect of receiving adiagnosis of dyslexia. When your confidencereaches the level of being able to say, “I havedyslexia, so what?” you have made a majorleap forward.

� Investigate what modern technology can offer.There is more information on this in Chapter 9.

� Be aware that not all of your difficulties may bethe result of dyslexia. There are other hiddenlearning difficulties such as attention deficithyperactivity disorder and dyspraxia. Like dyslexia,these are life long conditions and so may affectadults. It may be necessary to consultprofessionals in these areas also, to get your lifeunder control. Some people, particularly thosewhose learning difficulties caused distress inchildhood, may find that they need professionalcounselling before beginning to tackle the practicaltask of getting help with reading and writing.You need a clear head and no other side issueswhich might hamper learning.


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� Be realistic about what you can achieve. Donʼtbeat yourself up if you make mistakes. Everybodydoes. The most important thing is to note themistakes you make and see how you can avoidthem in the future.

� Finally, your own attitude towards your dyslexiawill be a very significant factor. If you believethat fate has treated you unfairly and that the worldowes you a living, you are going to make yourproblems worse. If, on the other hand, you decidethat dyslexia is not going to stand in the way ofyour achieving your goals and you are prepared toput in the hard work and use every strategy youknow to get round, through and over the obstaclesin your path, you will get there, as many othershave before you.


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Chapter 6Dyslexia in theWorkplace, includingSelf-Help Strategies.

There are certain issues which arise for people withdyslexia in the workplace which do not affect otherworkers. It is very important to be aware of these asthe co-operation of employer and employee canoften resolve issues which, if ignored, ormishandled, can cause immense trouble. ThisChapter discusses dyslexia in the workplace, andincludes many self help strategies to help withreading, writing and remembering.

Disclosure of a Specific Learning DisabilityAdults, particularly young adults who have recentlycompleted their education, may find that the workingenvironment is not as supportive of people withdyslexia as third level institutions are. A great deal ofhelp and support may be provided at third level and it isvery acceptable to declare oneʼs dyslexia. In theworking world the situation is very different. A majordilemma facing young people about to enter theworkforce, as well as adults moving jobs, is whether toinform prospective employers that they have dyslexia.


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Very little research has been done on employerawareness of dyslexia in Ireland. What little existsbears out what Gavin Reid, says of the UK:

“It has been suggested that employers may be lesssensitive to dyslexic type disabilities than they are toother, more visible disabilities”.

Therefore, the job seeker who declares his/her dyslexiaon application for a job is taking a gamble.

It could turn out that the employer or human resourcesmanager is aware of dyslexia and operates a system ofequal opportunity. If the applicant does get the post, itis very probable that support will be provided tofacilitate the employee. If, on the other hand, anapplicant does not declare dyslexia before accepting ajob offer, it could be difficult to request support orfacilities at a later stage.

The biggest fear that job applicants have is that if theydeclare their dyslexia they may never get to theinterview stage, never mind getting a job offer. If anapplicant decides to raise the matter of his/her dyslexiaat interview stage then it is important that they presenttheir situation positively, telling the interviewer just whatthey can do and the qualities they would bring to thejob.


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An individual who felt that he or she had beendiscriminated against on the basis of a disability, suchas dyslexia, could consider taking a case to theEquality Tribunal. The Equality Authority can becontacted for informal information and advice on anymatter relating to equality and discrimination. Thephone number of the Equality Authority is 1890245545. The website is

Organisation and Time Management at WorkIf one word were to be applied to the adult withdyslexia who is having problems in the workplace, itwould probably be disorganised. Where the words“could try harder” are often used in school reports, theadult equivalent very often is “canʼt get his acttogether”. Planning and organising, setting outtimetables, distinguishing between the important andthe urgent, rememberingappointments, passingon telephone messagesfrom memory andmeeting deadlines canbe exceptionally difficultfor many people withdyslexia. Many complainof a tendency to getbogged down, overwhelmed bythe workload and very stressed. There are ways roundthis difficulty and some are outlined below.


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Initial Job TrainingThe initial training may be insufficient, in that a dyslexicperson may not have the same learning style as otheremployees. Skilled and well-qualified workers havereported an absence of flexibility in the approach totraining in many firms. Research has indicated that itcan take a person with dyslexia longer to acquire a skillto an automatic level. Once the skill is acquired,performance may be similar or better but in pressuredwork situations this extra time may not be given.Awareness of the skills, as well as the difficulties, ofpeople with dyslexia would help greatly in this area.

Information ProcessingSo many office workers today suffer from informationoverload, that the pressure on people with dyslexia canbe almost unbearable.

Most adults with dyslexia who work in professional orwhite-collar jobs have good reading skills. They mayread quite fluently and have excellent comprehensionbut their reading speed may be slower.They may also need to exercise more care not tomisread a word or phrase. Letters, emails, reports,journals, magazine articles, newspaper reports – theamount of reading required to keep abreast ofdevelopments is a major burden and the time it takesoften eats into leisure and family time.


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Similarly, when it comes to letter or report writing,editing, checking spelling and grammar, doublechecking figures for reversals and placement errors,managing appointment diaries and recordingtelephone messages, extra time is also needed. Manypeople with dyslexia have problems with clerical speedand accuracy, so care is essential. Sometimes speedmust be sacrificed for accuracy as it can be difficult toensure both.

While the advent of the word processor has made lifeeasier, it has also meant that very few people nowhave personal secretaries. Most people must producetheir own written work. It is no longer sufficient to be agood engineer, one must also be able to write a clearand properly spelled report and perform tasks at highspeed. A worker at a call centre must be able not onlyto do the job but also must complete each task within astated time and meet hourly targets of calls answered.


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Self-Help Strategies for Reading, Writing, GettingOrganised and Improving Memory.

It is virtually impossible to find a job which does notrequire some level of reading, writing andremembering, or some use of the computer. Thefollowing section offers some tips which might helppeople with dyslexia in their work. These strategies,and many more, can be developed more fully byworking with a specialist tutor. The topics are alsocovered in greater detail by a number of books andwebsites. Useful resources are:

� Making Dyslexia Work for You: A Self-HelpGuide – by V. Goodwin and B. Thomson, 2004,David Fulton Publishers. ISBN 978-1843120919.

� Dyslexia in the Workplace – by D. Bartlett andS. Moody, 2000, Whurr Publishers.ISBN 978-1861561725.

� The Mind Map Book: Radiant Thinking – by T.Buzan, 2000, BBC Books,ISBN 978-0563537328.

ReadingYou might read for pleasure, say a novel or anewspaper. You can read at your own pace and itdoesnʼt matter whether you know all the words, orremember all the details.


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Reading for work, or study, is another story. It isimportant to get the facts right, to remember therelevant information and understand what the writer issaying. If you have a lot of material to read it makessense to:

� Get comfortable – have the right light and a quietplace.

� Have pencils, highlighters, notebooks and anyother aids you need to hand.

� If you need reference books or dictionaries havethem on your desk too. Searching for materialsdamages your concentration.

� Never sit down to read a book or document withoutasking yourself just why you are reading and whatinformation you want to get.

� Skim through, looking at chapter headings andsummaries.

� If an executive summary of a report is included,read it first.

� Look for the key ideas and underline with pencil orhighlighter.

� Stop from time to time and ask yourself what youhave just read.

� Read for 20 – 30 minutes and then take a shortbreak. It is difficult to concentrate effectively formore than 30 minutes without a break.

� Review what you have read by making your ownshort summary.

� Pretend you are giving a talk on what you haveread.

� Check back to make sure that you have got yourfacts right.


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There is a well known method for reading whichencapsulates the above tips and it is easy to rememberbecause it is called SQ3R. This method, which was firstdeveloped by Francis Robinson in the 1960s, has beenused for many years. SQ3R stands for Scan, Questionand 3 Rʼs – Read, Remember, Review.

Scan – look through the text quickly for key words,not ignoring any illustrations, diagrams or graphs.Important information is often highlighted in a textbox or in bold or italics.Question – ask yourself what information you hopeto get from your reading.Read – read the text fully.Remember – write down the main points.Review – read again to check if you haveremembered correctly.

If you need to remember what you have read in greatdetail, say for an examination, it may help to read aloudand tape the material. Then it can be replayed as oftenas you like at any convenient time.

If you read quite easily but still have problems with newor uncommon words, it might be worth while buying aReading Pen, which will scan a word, say it aloud andexplain what it means. You will find more informationon this pen in Chapter 9.


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If you find looking up the meanings of new words in adictionary very time consuming, it could be easier touse the Thesaurus facility on your computer.

If you find that reading black print on a whitebackground causes you visual stress, causes the printto move or gives you a headache, you couldexperiment with colour filters. Using clear plastic sheetsin different colours could filter the light and make printclearer for you. An alternative is to photocopy readingmaterial on to coloured paper. If any of these strategieshelps, then use them.

Some readers with dyslexia find that they skip words orlines and find it hard to keep their place on the page.Use of a bookmark, such as the x-mark( may be helpful. This bookmark comesin various colours which may also help to focus thereader on the print.

WritingNext to reading aloud, writing is probably the activitymost disliked by adults with dyslexia. Even when thewriting load would seem to be a minor part of the job itcan make life very difficult. Cindy worked for a time onthe food counter of a pub. She recalls:

“I had to write down the orders and the menu onthe blackboard outside. The office crowd wouldcome in, suited and booted, looking down theirnoses at me and giving out when I got the orderswrong, which was quite a lot”.


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Cindy moved jobs frequently, so that “looking for a jobagain actually became a job in itself” until she foundher niche in a driving school.

“I loved it. The buzz of people coming and going allday, people so stressed about their driving lessonsand their test that they never noticed how I spelttheir names and addresses.Job heaven for a person with dyslexia.”

Writing down names and addresses can be tricky forpeople with dyslexia. Phil, a receptionist who hashandled her dyslexic difficulties very well, keeps a notepad on which she asks people to write down theirnames and addresses. She explains that she hasdyslexia and adds with a smile that she would hate toget the name wrong. She says she very rarely gets abad reaction. When on the phone, Phil mentions thatshe has dyslexia and asks callers to spell out theirnames.

Obviously, different types of writing tasks will needdifferent levels of skill, but many can be handled with abit of thought and creativity from the worker andflexibility on the part of management. Many letters,memos, invoices, bills, appointments, orders andacknowledgements can be dealt with by creating atemplate or form letter. Try, wherever possible, to haverelevant words and phrases stored on your computeror written in your personal notebook, so that you can


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include them in correspondence. If there are wordswhich you have trouble spelling and which you need inyour work, then these can be added to your personallist.

Writing a report to present to your manager, orsubmitting a thesis at college can be much morechallenging, but there are ways of coping.Perhaps the hardest part is getting started.

� Make a PLAN. Do this on paper using indexcards, on computer using software such asInspiration or by making a mind map or diagram.Decide what you want to say.

� Set deadlines for yourself. If a report is due onMay 31st you need to work backwards from thatdate and plan when you need to have a firstdraft ready, when you need to begin researchand how much time you can spend each day onthis report.

� Allot time for reading and research; time forwriting; time for consultation with relevantothers; time for revision; time for printing andtime for unforeseen events such as computer orprinter breakdown. Write your plan down on atime sheet and stick to it.


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� Organise your thoughts. Reports or essayshave a recognised format:

1. Introduction – tell the reader what you aregoing to say.

2. Discussion – set out your point of view.3. Presentation of facts - back up your

argument using examples or quotes.4. Conclusion – tell the reader what you

think is the issue.5. Recommendations – what do you think

should be done.6. References – if you have quoted other

reports or texts, it is important to list them,noting the relevant pages.

A variation of this format will give you a structure onwhich to write your essay or report. When you break ajob down into separate parts it becomes easier. Youcan take one bit at a time. Start with even onesentence for each idea. You can expand on it later.Donʼt worry about spelling or grammar at this stage.That can be checked later using the spelling andgrammar check on your computer.

If a particular section is hard to write, try talking it out –to a friend or on tape. Do remember though, thatwritten language is more formal than spoken language,so you canʼt simply write as you speak.


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The most important thing when writing a report oressay is not to get bogged down in one part. If oneaspect or part of your argument is difficult, go on toanother one. Keep going. Do not write the introductionover and over again until it is perfect, and then find youdonʼt have time for the rest of the report. Many goodwriters leave the introduction to the end: it is the lastthing they write.

Check carefully from time to time that you are stickingto the topic and not going off into other issues.

If your computer has a facility for converting text tovoice, use this to edit your written work. For those witha good ear, it is easier to detect mistakes when youhear them, than when you read from the screen orpaper.

Take extra care with words which the spell checkerwonʼt correct, e.g. ʻtheirʼ for ʻthereʼ or ʻwaitʼ for ʻweightʼ.It is a great help to get a friend or colleague to proofread your written work. However, sometimes peoplewith dyslexia place too much pressure on themselvesto have perfect spelling, so remember that everyonemakes mistakes when writing or typing, not just peoplewith dyslexia!


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MemoryIt is often said that with dyslexia it is not so much thatpeople learn slowly but that they forget quickly. It is truethat people with dyslexia often struggle to remembernames, dates, and facts. Stress and anxiety can makethis difficulty worse. Most people will recall the panicthey felt as a child being asked a question in mentalarithmetic, or spelling when an immediate responsewas required. The greater the effort made the furtheraway the answer seemed to drift.

Memory is very complex and we have different memoryability for different stimuli. Some people with dyslexiahave very good visual memory and poor auditorymemory, so they will remember information better if it ispresented with diagrams and visual images.Other people with dyslexia may have poor visualmemory and good auditory memory, so they will find iteasier to remember what they hear, rather than whatthey see. People who are more kinaesthetic or activelearners will remember better by practicing and doingan activity, rather than just reading about it or looking atit.

There are two main types of memory relating to thelength of recall, but for facts and figures we usuallyneed two in particular: short-term and long-term.Short-term memory is used when you hold a fact, saya phone number, in your head long enough to use it.By the following day, you no longer recall it, or need torecall it.


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Long-term memory has two parts. Episodic memory isused to recall events which happened, e.g. a holidayby the sea as a child. Semantic memory is used toremember facts and details, e.g. your PPS number orthe date of the Battle of Clontarf. The vital one for studyand work is the semantic memory.

There are many ways for getting information intolong-term memory. As a person with dyslexia it isimportant to work out the best way for you. Once a factis in the long-term memory it must also be easilyretrieved. The memory can be like a spare room, orattic, where things are stored in an untidy heap. Ideallyit should be like a filing cabinet where each fact isneatly labelled and can be taken out when needed. Butwe donʼt live in an ideal world and much time andenergy is spent in trying to recall things which we aresure we know.

The following tips may be helpful for learning andremembering information:

� Choose the right time of day when you knowyour memory is at its best. For some itʼs early, forothers itʼs just before bedtime.

� Choose the right place – comfortable and freefrom distractions.


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� Link facts to other details you already havestored, or which interest you. For example youmay have enjoyed the film “West Side Story”.This could be used to help remember the plotand characters in “Romeo and Juliet”.

� Make links for yourself, e.g. your bank PINmight be 2375, you could remember “I was 23when I first visited London and my friend Bettylives at 75 Main Street”.

� Store information in small chunks, it is easierto remember than in large units, e.g. break aphone number into sections rather than trying tolearn it whole.

� Use mnemonics, a rhyme or phrase whichhelps you remember something. For exampleremembering the verse “30 days hath November,April, June and September” could help you avoidthe embarrassment of making appointments forApril 31st. Make up your own rhymes or phrases.They can be personal, funny or even rude.

� It is very hard to remember things which youdonʼt understand so itʼs worth taking some time tomake sure you are fully familiar with what youwant to memorise.

� It is easier to remember things which areunusual, so focus on any odd or interestingfeatures.

� Attach colours or pictures to information ifthat works for you. You could highlight facts orkey words in different colours and then visualisethe page with the different colours.


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� Draw a mind map or diagram showing the keyideas; you may find that you can visualise themap and retrieve the information more easily(see Figure 1).

� Most importantly revise the information youwant to remember. If you donʼt, you may forgetmost of it within a few days.

Figure 1.

People with dyslexia are often very creative in workingout strategies which work for them. One mathematicsstudent with dyslexia who found formulas hard toremember would revise them just before entering theexamination hall. He would hold them in his memoryuntil he was given his answer papers when he wouldjot them down immediately. He did this before readingthe exam questions so as not to forget or becomeconfused. When he read through the exam questionshe would know which formulas he needed to use andhe would have them to hand.



Tap intoCreativity





Benefitsof VisualLearning

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Mobile phones are a real boon to adults with dyslexia,as names, addresses, phone numbers and other briefdetails can be kept to hand. However, there are somefacts which are almost impossible for people withdyslexia to remember and many people just give uptrying. This applies particularly to multiplication tablesand mathematical formulas. Once school days are overthere is often no reason for most people to have toremember these and calculators, number squares,ready reckoners and slide rules provide an easyanswer. Many mobile phones now include a calculator.

Many people with dyslexia carry their own personalnotebooks where they record information which theyfind hard to remember and which they need often. Thiscan be used to record spellings which are tricky,technical expressions, names and contact details ofcustomers, or lists of things they have to do.

People who have trouble with remembering letters insequence, as in filing or consulting a dictionary ortelephone directory find it useful to keep an index cardwith the letters of the alphabet clearly written onit. This enables them to check quickly whether ʻJʼcomes before or after ʻKʼ, a very important piece ofinformation when you are looking for a file in a hurry.

In work and when studying it may be useful to makeyour own list of frequently used words, whether onindex cards or on your computer.


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Organisation and Time ManagementMargaret Thatcher, when PrimeMinister of Britain, is reported tohave said “Happiness is aticked off list.”Many people would agree.Getting things done andfinished with, crossing them offthe list so you donʼt have toworry about them any more is agreat feeling.

For many workers with dyslexia the reality is that badfeelings can be more common than good ones at theend of the day. Work mounts up, pressure builds frommanagers or colleagues, files go missing, hastilywritten material contains spelling and other mistakesand very hardworking people can appear to becareless or incompetent. A small forest has beendestroyed to produce paper for all the booksand magazine articles on how to organise your life andmanage your time. At the risk of adding to thismountain of information, here are some strategies forgetting organised:


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� Be like Margaret Thatcher – make a list.� Better still, make a couple of lists.� Write down everything you need to do today for

work.� Write down everything you need to do today for

yourself.� You could divide your daily diary into two columns,

one for work and one for personal items.� Put a red mark beside all the really urgent items,

e.g. if you have to go to a meeting, or take yourchild to the dentist then it has to be done today.This is urgent.

� Make sure you know what is urgent for you andwhat is important.

� Do not spend time deleting old files on yourcomputer when a report is required for tomorrowʼsmeeting. That may be important but it is not urgent.

� Review your “To Do” list twice a day – at lunchtimeand before going home.

� Update your list when a new task arises, otherwiseyou may forget it.

� Enjoy crossing off the tasks you completed at theend of the day.

� At the end of the day start your new list fortomorrow with the tasks you didnʼt do today.

� Keep a diary with all your appointments. Donʼt havetwo diaries with some appointments in each. It isnot easy to concentrate on a demanding job atwork if you have an uneasy feeling that itʼs yourturn to collect your child from school but you are notsure.


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� Get into the habit of checking your diary everymorning, and again at lunch time. It is surprisinghow many people with dyslexia forget aboutappointments.

� Put a year planner on your wall in a prominentplace.

� Mark in holidays, birthdays and important datessuch as meetings, deadlines for projects etc. on itand look at it often.

� Use post-it notes if you find them helpful but try toreserve them for reminding yourself of unusual orvery urgent things. A forest of post-it notes on yourdesk or wall can be confusing rather than helpful.

� Try to keep your files and paper under control.� Try to get by with three paper trays on your desk,

one labeled “Do Today”, one labeled “Do Soon” andone labeled “Filing”.

� Be ruthless about disposing of unwanted paper –either file it or bin it.

� The filing tray should be emptied every Friday.


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It is worthremembering thatsometimes when youfeel overwhelmed withwork it is because youare overwhelmed.The workload is toogreat for any oneperson. People with

dyslexia often feel that any difficulty they encounter istheir fault and that others would cope better. If you findyourself in this situation do talk to a colleague or friendand approach your manager or employer aboutpossibly adjusting your workload.


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Chapter 7Dyslexia – the humanfactorPeople with dyslexia are, first and foremost, people.They are all unique persons who differ in age, size,height, personality, ability, experience, familybackground and life history. However, they do sharesome common difficulties which arise, in large part,from living in a predominantly non-dyslexicenvironment.

Many people with dyslexia find dealing with the writtenword quite tiring. This is true for children at school andfor adults in the workplace. It has to be acknowledgedand allowances made for it. It is important, therefore,for people with dyslexia to be aware of the role diet,exercise and relaxation can play in how they feel andhow they cope with day to day activities.

A balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetablesmakes good sense for anyone, but particularly for aperson under stress. Medical opinion indicates that avaried diet should provide all the nutrients a personneeds without resort to supplements, unlessrecommended by a doctor. Likewise ensuring a goodnightʼs sleep is also important.


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It is a well known fact that errors of all sorts are morecommon when one is tired, stressed or run down.Dehydration can impair attention and concentrationlevels, so always have a bottle of water at your desk tokeep hydrated. When studying or working on a difficulttask which requires detailed attention, it is important totake a break every 20 or 30 minutes.

Many people with dyslexia find that it is difficult to workquickly and accurately when doing clerical work. Ingeneral, accuracy is the most desired aim, so speedmay have to be sacrificed slightly.

The benefit of relaxation exercises should not beoverlooked. Simply pausing to take a few deep breathscan be immensely helpful when feeling overwhelmedby work or study. There are many classes, tapes andbooks available on relaxation techniques which canreally help in managing stress. Physical activity, eventaking a short walk, can help to relieve stress and clearyour head. Many people find activities such as yogaand martial arts not only help to develop motor skillsand balance but can also aid concentration and helpwith relaxation.

Self-ConfidenceA side-effect of dyslexia, in all too many people, is thedamage to their self-confidence. Lack of confidence intheir ability to do a job or take on a challenge isprobably the greatest burden many adults with dyslexiahave to bear. Even when initial literacy difficulties havebeen overcome and an individual appears secure andcompetent, self doubt can lurk just beneath the


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surface. A set-back at work, a criticism from someonein authority, a perceived failure in achieving a goal,could reawaken memories of the classroom andshatter self-confidence.

It is unfortunately true that a lot of damage to self-confidence happens in the classroom. Frances recalls:

“What I learned in school was not a lot. It was notmuch on education. I learned to have fear, and Ialso learned to have no confidence. Having noconfidence stopped me from doing a lot of things inschool, from talking and mixing with the rest of theclass. I would always sit at the back of the class.This was the only comfort I had.”

It took Frances many years to regain her confidence.Self-confidence is a delicate plant. It is easily stampedout but quite hard to grow again. Yet self-confidence isthe key to success in so many ways.

Adults who return to education must have theirself-confidence restored in order for tuition and trainingto be effective. Some people with dyslexia have beenso hurt by their past experiences that professionalcounselling is necessary before they are able to tacklethe underlying literacy difficulty and begin to learn. Forothers, understanding their lack of confidence andadopting some strategies to restore it may suffice.


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Self-EsteemLack of self-confidence can be an enormous handicapfor an adult with dyslexia faced with new and difficulttasks. However, lack of self-esteem is a morefundamental difficulty and can affect every aspect oflife. Low self-esteem means that the person does notvalue themselves as a human being deserving ofrespect and fulfillment.

Most feelings of low esteem or feeling bad aboutoneself stem from early experiences. Factors whichlead to low self-esteem include:

� Failure, or perceived failure, to be as good aseveryone else.

� Lack of approval, appreciation, praise oraffection.

� Punishment for failure, e.g. ridicule, exclusion,bullying.

� Being different, the odd one out – at school or athome.

� Belonging to a group which is not socially valued.

Looking at this list it is clear that adults with dyslexiacould have experienced one or more of those riskfactors. Even if neither parents nor teachers wereexplicit in criticising the childʼs performance, a childwho underperformed in a classroom situation wouldhave been well aware of the fact. The Irish educationand child rearing culture, particularly in the past,tended to concentrate on correcting errors rather thanon praising effort. Pupils were more likely to be told“you got 5 spellings wrong out of 10” rather than “you


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got 5 spellings right”. An adult who had specificlearning difficulties while in the classroom, and whoseparents and teachers either had never heard ofdyslexia, or did not have the resources to provideappropriate support, would almost certainly suffer hugedamage to his/her self-esteem.

While the causes of low self-esteem may lie inchildhood experiences, the results persist well intoadulthood. Thinking poorly of oneself becomes a habit,and the longer the habit persists the more difficult it isto change. A lot has been written about ways toimprove self-esteem. Some of the following may behelpful to anyone who feels their own confidencecould to with a boost:

Give yourself credit.You may have had some difficulties at school or inwork, but then everyone does to some extent or other.The fact that you persisted and that you are nowreading this booklet means you have succeeded verywell indeed.

Think of what you have achieved rather than what youhave not achieved. Think of the things you can do:driving a car; cooking meals; keeping to a budget;swimming; playing sport; rearing children; caring forothers; keeping pigeons; volunteering in yourcommunity; drawing; decorating your home; earning aliving; making friends; playing an instrument; using acomputer. If you think about it you can probably add alot more skills to that list. If you have even some ofthese skills you are doing well. You donʼt have to be


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brilliant at every activity. You donʼt have to be anOlympic swimmer, or a rally driver. These people arefew and far between. Be proud of what you can do andvalue yourself.

Think of the courage you have shown in your life. Itprobably took courage to go to school every day whenlearning was a real challenge for you. If you returned toeducation as an adult, or took extra courses, or learnedto use a computer, then this took great courage anddetermination. If you have told friends and colleaguesabout your dyslexia, or explained to employers orsupervisors just what dyslexia means, then you haveshown real courage. It is really important to giveyourself credit for all you have done and all youhave achieved.

Donʼt be your own worst criticThere is a big difference between being realistic aboutyour own difficulties, and being constantly self-critical. Itis good to be aware of what you find hard to do and it isonly sensible to ask for help when necessary. But thereis no advantage at all in beating yourself up for everylittle mistake you make. You wouldnʼt say a friend wasuseless, or a waste of space, because they foundsomething difficult or made a mistake. Yet you do it toyourself all the time. You wouldnʼt write off a friendbecause he or she had one area of difficulty. You wouldsee all the other positive things about that person.Could you imagine criticizing a friend because shecouldnʼt swim, or because she failed her driving test?Why should you be so much harder on yourself?


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Donʼt expect the worstIf your self-esteem is low you may be reluctant to takeon a challenge, or try something new. You may fearthat it wonʼt work out.

Anticipating failure can really hold you back. It is moreuseful to concentrate your attention on what you wantto achieve, rather than thinking of what might gowrong. There is a danger of over-estimating thedifficulties, or worrying about what will happen if youdonʼt succeed.

Donʼt dwell on the pastEveryone makes mistakes. If you spend too much timethinking about what you did wrong, you miss thechance to learn from mistakes and move on.

Trust yourselfIf you are aware of your own strengths andweaknesses then you are dealing with facts. Whenothers make assumptions about you they are dealingwith opinions. A particular teacher may haveconsidered you a failure because you didnʼt answerquestions quickly enough. This was not a failure onyour part, but was a result of the teacherʼs unrealisticexpectations of a student with dyslexia. Consider thatother peopleʼs opinions about you may be wrong.Believe in yourself and value your own knowledge ofyourself. Donʼt compare yourself to other people.Concentrate on improving your own performance. Youare the important person.


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Be positiveIf you allow yourself to dwell on thoughts of yourdifficulties, past failures, disappointments, frustrations,anxieties and even unfair treatment you received, youcould easily become depressed. It is important to dosomething to change your mood and lift your spirits.You will know best how to banish negative thoughtsand cheer yourself up. It may be by listening to music,exercising, talking to a friend, going to a film or evenhaving a hot bath.

Melanie Fennell in her book ʻOvercoming Low Self-Esteemʼ recommends keeping a “Positives Notebook”in which you write down not just lists of your own goodpoints, but examples of things you did whichdemonstrated these positive qualities. Sherecommends writing down three things each day. Itmight be something as simple as tackling a job whichyou had been putting off, or calling in on an elderlyneighbour, or being patient with a particularly difficultcustomer. This will help you to focus on positive thingsabout yourself, rather than constantly putting yourselfdown.


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Improving your self-esteem is probably the best thinganyone with dyslexia can do for themselves.Remember the elderly gentleman who was asked by astudent researcher what social class he was in, so thatthe appropriate box could be ticked. The older manlooked him in the eye and proudly replied:

“Iʼm not Upper Class, or MiddleClass or Working Class,but Iʼm First Class.”

There was a man who could givelessons in self-esteem.


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Chapter 8How Employers can Help

Employer Awareness“Employers often find themselves trying to make upfor the fact that many employees, particularly olderemployees, have very poor levels of education.Nowadays we are familiar with the concept ofspecific learning difficulties, be it dyslexia, dyspraxiaor attention deficit disorder. However as recently as10 or 15 years ago these concepts were unknown tothe public and poorly understood. Employerscertainly did not understand the different kinds ofconditions that their employees could have and thiswas a real barrier to engagement with suchproblems. Today we have much more awarenessand openness to addressing them, but we are stilldealing with the legacy of the past.

I would urge employers to consider the needs ofthose employees who may have specific learningdifficulties, to ensure that they too can avail of anyeducation and training that is made available andare not left behind.

I encourage employers to accommodate andsupport this strand of talent within the workforce,because without that accommodation it is hard formany to succeed. I have no doubt that…. in thefuture we will wonder why dyslexia was everconsidered unusual.”


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The above quotations are from the opening address ofMr. Turlough OʼSullivan, Director General of the IrishBusiness and Employers Confederation (IBEC), at aconference on dyslexia in 2007. (The full text isavailable on Hiswords are so true. We are still dealing with the legacyof the past and many employers do not have as muchawareness as their employees might wish.

Dyslexia is a hidden disability. Employers may well bewary of how such a disability will impact on anemployeeʼs work. The assumption is often made that ifa person has dyslexia, then they cannot read at all.Regrettably many people still assume that dyslexiameans illiteracy or possibly impaired mentalfunctioning. Things have not changed so much sinceAlbert Einstein lost two lecturing posts because of hiserratic spelling and poor handwriting.

LegislationEquality legislation in Ireland prohibits discriminationagainst people with disabilities but anecdotal evidencesuggests that it is happening and employees reportincidences of bullying because of their dyslexia. Thefacts are hard to establish, but it is unacceptable thatanyone should feel vulnerable in the workplacebecause of difficulties which could be accommodated,if they were better understood. The EmploymentEquality Acts (1998-2004) outlaw discrimination in allareas relevant to employment. Discrimination is definedas the treatment of one person in a less favourableway than another person is, has been or should betreated. The definition of disability includes learningdisorders such as dyslexia.


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An employer may not discriminate on grounds ofdisability, but that does not mean that an employermust hire, retain or promote an employee who cannotdo a particular job. However, a person with a disabilitymay be capable of doing a job if specialaccommodations are made. These adaptations orprovisions of technology are often not as costly asmight be feared. Before the passing of the EmploymentEquality Act, 2004, an employer could refuse to providefacilities if the cost was more than nominal. Nominalcost was not defined.

Under the 2004 act the requirement is that the cost ofaccommodations must not cause a disproportionateburden on the employer. When the burden is beingassessed the criteria include the costs relative to thesize of the business and the resources available, thenature of any benefit experienced by any person likelyto be affected by them, and any funding available fromstatutory bodies for adaptation. This places more of anonus on employers to consider the provision of facilitiesand services for employees with disabilities than theolder acts did. Funding is also now available toemployers from FÁS (the Workplace EquipmentAdaptation Grant), which can help with the cost of anynecessary workplace adaptations or equipment, suchas specialist assistive technology (see Chapter 9).

The Equality Authority can be contacted at any time forinformal advice on matters relating to equality anddiscrimination. If an employee feels he or she has beendiscriminated against because of their disability, theymay take a complaint to the Equality Tribunal.


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How Employers can HelpEmployers are in an enormously powerful situation inrelation to workers with dyslexia. They can influencewhether the person becomes a productive and happymember of staff or whether their employee becomes anervous, stressed-out wreck. Below are some commonsense points that employers and managers might bearin mind when working with employees or colleagueswith dyslexia.

� Talk to the individual with dyslexia and askhim/her what they need in order to do the jobeffectively. People with dyslexia are not all thesame. They have different abilities and differentneeds, and after all they are best placed to saywhat works for them.

� An open atmosphere where an employee canfeel confident in talking about problems andseeking solutions is the best support which canbe given.

� Provide awareness and training to humanresources personnel, line managers andcolleagues on how dyslexia impacts in theworkplace. Given the prevalence of dyslexia inthe population the odds are extremely high thatmore than one person on the staff has dyslexia.

� Be aware of dyslexia at the recruitment stage.Ensure that your firm is not missing out on theopportunity to hire a highly productive workerbecause of a difficulty which could be managedrelatively easily.


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� Provide adequate training. It is worth taking theextra time to ensure that workers know exactlywhat the job entails. All will have learningstrengths; utilise these.

� Remember that a person with dyslexia mayforget easily, so be prepared to repeat training ifrequired.

� Likewise, be patient with questions. Better toanswer the same question a few times than todeal with a costly error.

� Give clear instructions. Verbal instructionsshould be given slowly and one at a time. It isuseful to check back that they have beenunderstood. Remember that dyslexia is aninformation processing difficulty, not just areading delay.

� Written instructions should be easy to read,preferably typed in large font, in plain English andillustrated with pictures and diagrams if possible.It may help if printing is on coloured paper.

� Give advance notice of tasks to be done.Pressure affects performance and workers withdyslexia may feel this more than others.

� Avoid stress if possible. Stress is often causedby supervisors trying to hurry a worker, or lookingover their shoulder constantly.

� People with dyslexia may work better in a quietarea free from other distractions.


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� Encourage good work practices such aspre-planning for projects, keeping workschedules and time tables, breaking jobs downinto manageable units, frequent reviewing ofgoals and progress and mutual support fromcolleagues.

� Do not ask an employee with dyslexia to readaloud in public without checking that they arecomfortable with this.

� Remember that taking notes at a meeting may bevery difficult as many people with dyslexia find ithard to listen and write at the same time.

� Do not mistake difficulty with reading, writing orremembering for stupidity or laziness.

� Coping with dyslexia in the workplace may bedifficult for an employer or supervisor, but justimagine what it is like for the employee.

� Donʼt focus onlyon the difficulties.People with dyslexia havemany strengths, so dogive praise andencouragement.

Become aware of dyslexia.It is a fact of working life. 6% to 8% of the workforce isaffected by dyslexia to some extent. A dyslexic difficultymay explain why some workers are reluctant to keeprecords, write reports or even to seek promotion. It maybe the reason why written work does not seem to reachthe standard of presentation that would be expectedfrom the employeeʼs proven ability in other areas.


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It may also explain difficulties with time-managementand even reactions to perceived authority figures.Some adults with dyslexia, who have unhappymemories of school days, carry over the fear andresentment felt as children to authority figures in theworkplace. They may be afraid of their difficulties beingʻfound outʼ.

Dealing with written language and office proceduresdoes not always come easily to people with dyslexia. Itis like an athlete running a marathon with a heavyweight attached to his/her ankles. It can be done but itis difficult and tiring. The surprising thing is how manypeople manage to reach the finishing post. The morean employer or manager learns about dyslexia, theeasier it becomes to understand what this struggleentails. The reward for employer and employee is amore productive and happier workplace.

Take a flexible approachCreate an open environment in which employees haveno fear that declaring a difficulty will result in dismissalor sidelining. If a dyslexic problem is identified, it canbe taken into account. It stands to reason that adifficulty which is being covered up is much more likelyto result in mistakes than one which is recognised.Colleagues can be encouraged to help each other outand share or swap tasks. Work can be allocated to suitthe talents of the individual and the employer gets thebest from every worker.


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Look at the whole person. Reading may not be astrength but there may be many other skills andabilities which are untapped. Many people withdyslexia have great interpersonal skills and are veryarticulate. Others have exceptional facility withinformation technology. Adults with dyslexia haveusually learned patience and tolerance and so makeunderstanding trainers and instructors.

Donʼt make assumptionsRemember that staff with high-level qualifications canstill have dyslexia and that it may affect their work,particularly if they are trying to cover up the condition.An engineer may be brilliant technically, innovative,creative and highly competent at his/her job, but notfeel comfortable producing written reports or readingunseen texts aloud at meetings.

Get Specialist HelpUse the many support systems which exist. Outsidespecialists can provide screening and psycho-educational assessment if necessary.Individual tuition and support for employees isavailable. The Dyslexia Association of Ireland offersboth psycho-educational assessment and individualtuition for adults.

Avail of Technological AssistanceConsider how technology can help. Word processingpackages with spell and grammar check can workwonders. Voice operated software, screen readers,scanners, mobile phones with recording memory,electronic dictionaries, talking calculators, reading


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pens; electronic organizers – one or more of these maysolve the problem. Detailed information is available inChapter 9.

Consider low-tech solutions. People with dyslexia oftenfind that increasing print size to 14 points and using aplain sans serif font (e.g. Arial, Verdana, Helvetica orSassoon) makes text easier to read.

Changing the background colour on a computer maymake a huge improvement in legibility. Photo-copyinginformation on to coloured paper, use of colour coding,or coloured hi-lighters, and use of coloured transparentsheets to cover reading material may also help.

Presenting written informationInstructions do not always have to be given in denselyprinted form. Short clear sentences, in plain Englishand well spaced on the paper are more accessible forpeople with dyslexia. It helps if the same terms areused consistently, e.g. referring in one place to ʻcarsʼand in another to ʻvehicular trafficʼ tends to confuse.Highlight key words using bold or highlighters. Italicsand underlining may confuse. Lines should be leftjustified only and writing in all capital letters should beavoided. Bullet points and numbers for key facts arealso helpful.

A picture is worth a thousand words to a person withdyslexia. Illustrations, diagrams, flow charts and mindmaps can be enormously helpful. Visual literacy is askill not to be underestimated. Some day we may allneed to have it!


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Vive le DifferenceA key factor in dyslexia is difference. Employers canview this difference as a positive or a negative. If aworker with dyslexia does not find a particular system,or training practice suits their learning style, ask themwhat would suit. There may be another way and itmay even be better, not just for them but for the entirestaff.

Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, ADD/ADHD andAspergerʼs Syndrome all make life difficult for theperson with the condition. They also have implicationsfor employers, colleagues, college authorities andexamining bodies. But it must be understood that all ofthese conditions have their upsides.

People with Dyslexia and ADD think and processinformation differently. While they may experiencedifficulty in processing written language, they canprocess non-language information very efficiently.This has been an important trait in human evolution,and as Dr. Duncan Milne, says in ʻTeaching the Brain toReadʼ:

“Having different types of problem solvers within thegroup is essential. By having both symmetrical andasymmetrical brains working in the same team,synergies lead to better problem solving”.


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Indeed this ability of many people with dyslexia (whoare believed to be right brain dominant) to solveproblems has led some American firms to employ onlyengineers with dyslexia.

In an article in Fortune Magazine (May 2002), BetsyMorris profiles some very successful business people,bankers, lawyers and entrepreneurs, all millionaires orbillionaires, who succeeded in spite of major dyslexicdifficulties. The best known, on this side of the Atlantic,is tycoon Richard Branson, who left school at sixteenand went on to build an aviation empire.

The author, Thomas G. West, has written in detailabout the achievements of engineers, scientists andinformation technology innovators who have dyslexia.In Harvard, he reports, dyslexia is known as the M.I.T.(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) diseasebecause so many of the students at this prestigiousinstitute have the condition. Creative artists fromLeonardo da Vinci to the sculptor Rodin have displayeddyslexic characteristics, as did Nobel Prize winningpoet William Butler Yeats.

With all learning difficulties it is essential to developan understanding of the individualʼs strengths andweaknesses, and their learning style. The strengthscan be capitalized upon and used to help overcomethe weaker areas.


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Chapter 9Computers and AssistiveTechnology

In previous chapters we have mentioned thattechnology can help people with dyslexia in theworkplace and in their studies. There is a vast rangeof software and technical equipment out there,some of it geared for studentsʼ needs, but much of itsuitable for any user.

Adults with dyslexia should feel free to experimentwith whatever is available and search around untilthey find what suits them best. Needs will varyhugely, from the person who needs the simplestmethod of reading the written word, to the third levelstudent who wants to edit and present formalacademic texts.

It is always well to remember that technology is atool and is not in any way a substitute for specialistteaching. It should also be borne in mind that to usetechnology effectively requires training. This canbe time consuming, but it is pointless to spend a lotof money on sophisticated equipment unlessadequate training in its best use is provided. Themost appropriate equipment for each individual hasto be considered and the most expensive optionmay not always be the best one.


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Useful aids and techniques range from very simpleitems like coloured highlighters to expensive hightech computer programmes.

This section includes some of the things whichpeople with dyslexia have found helpful.

Cheap and Cheerful AidsColoured photocopying paper - Some people find thatthey get less glare or experience less visual stresswhen reading material printed on coloured paper.Yellow is a favourite. Other options are the useof coloured overlays which are placed over the text. Itis also possible to change the font colour and back-ground colour on the computer.

Pictures, diagrams, charts and mind-maps can conveya lot of information to a person with dyslexia and savea lot of reading.

Readers who have trouble keeping their place on thepage may find a simple bookmark like the X-markhelps. This guides the eye while reading and somereaders find the colours help with visual stress.These are now available from the Dyslexia Association.

Post-it notes in different colours can be useful forreminders. Some students like to plan essays usingpost-it notes. They can be spread on a desk andmoved about as required.

Coloured highlighters are useful for marking importantwords or phrases in a text.


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A personal notebook to keep lists of words or phraseswhich are often needed can be useful. This is easier tomanage than looking up dictionaries or referencebooks.

Clear plastic file folders in a variety of colours can beused to organise paper work. For example, all paperson a particular essay topic, or job of work could be keptin red folders. These will be easily identified whenneeded.

Colour coding files using sticky labels is also helpful.

A copy holder with a moveable ruler is very useful ifwork involves transcribing rows of figures, names andaddresses or other closely printed text.

Spending a little more – small electronic devices.People with dyslexia often have difficulty in listeningand taking notes at the same time, so recordinglectures, or training sessions can be really helpful. Thiscan be done with a digital recorder. This means thatthey can replay the information as often as necessary.They can build up their own audio library which theycan then use for revision and any future work whichneeds to be done. An MP3 player can be used so thatmaterial can be listened to at leisure or while travelling.

This strategy is also very useful in the workplace whentaking minutes or writing reports on meetings. Ofcourse, any type of recording does require the consentof lecturers and those attending meetings.


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At third level some students with dyslexia are allowedto record answers to examination questions on tape.This can be a huge benefit for some students who maysee their grades increase significantly as a result.

Small hand held recorders are very useful to recordphone messages, orders, names and addresses, jobsto be done, etc.

An electronic dictionary is an inexpensive, portabletool for checking spelling, e.g. Franklin Spellmaster. Aslong as the individual can make a reasonable phoneticattempt, there is a good chance that the correctspelling can be identified. Some electronic dictionariesalso have a thesaurus feature which can help withexpanding vocabulary.

Electronic organisers are invaluable for storingrelevant information, phone numbers, addresses, diaryentries. They can be set to remind one of appointmentsand meetings.

Modern mobile phones will now do many of the abovetasks.

High-tech OptionsDevelopments in computers andassistive technology have been ofgreat benefit to people withdyslexia, both as students and inthe workplace. Access to even abasic word processor with spelland grammar check is a


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big help. Checking spelling on computer is somuch easier than consulting a dictionary andthe thesaurus function makes looking up wordmeanings quicker and simpler.

Good keyboard skills are essential, so it is important tolearn proper touch-typing. Scanners, which allow textto be put directly onto a computer, and screen readingsoftware which reads this material aloud, are extremelyhelpful to people who find reading tiring or difficult.Voice operated software allows the user to dictatedirectly onto the computer without having to worryabout spelling which makes producing written workmuch easier and speedier.

With so many programmes and products available, it iseasy to become confused with the choice. Computersoftware can be expensive and comes packaged, so itcan be difficult to find out prior to purchase if a productis suitable. Ways of obtaining practical experience ofthe software include advice from other users,demonstrations of software at conferences orexhibitions; it can sometimes be possible to get free30-day demo or trial disks from suppliers or downloadtrial versions from the internet.

For example, the following websites offer free demosand/or [email protected] (email)


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Computer literacy is becoming necessary for everyonein the workforce and to be able to use a wordprocessor effectively it is important to learn to touchtype properly. It does take some time and effort but it iswell worth it.

Developing reading, spelling and numeracy skillsWhile many adults will choose to deal with any literacydifficulties they still have by working with a specialisttutor, this may not be possible for everyone. There arehundreds of excellent programmes available whichmotivated adults can use by themselves to help toimprove their basic skills in reading, spelling andmaths.

Many programmes come in a range of different levels;it is important to choose the right level for eachindividual. Catalogues of educational software can beobtained from many of the specialist suppliers listed atthe end of this section. The programmes mentionedbelow are some examples of the types commonlyused.

There are many literacy programmes available whichprovide a useful learning aid to practise and developreading, phonics, spelling, etc. Wordshark, based onthe ʻAlpha to Omegaʼ programme, combines the fun ofcomputer games with learning to spell and read. Itoffers 41 games that use sound, graphics and text toteach and reinforce word recognition and spelling. Newwords and vocabularies can also be added. Thisprogramme can be used by adults.


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The Lexia reading series helps students to strengthenskills through interactive exercises working on areassuch as phonemic awareness, decoding skills andcomprehension.

Starspell is a programme suitable for adults who wantto develop spelling skills. It uses the Look-Cover-Write-Check strategy. Every word is spoken and manyhave pictures. It is also possible to create personalword lists and subject specific vocabularies.

Reading support – accessing textFor students or other adults with reading difficulties,accessing serious reading material can be very difficultand time consuming. For those whose reading isreasonably competent, but where they come acrossoccasional words that they cannot identify, a readingpen is a good solution, e.g. Quicktionary Reading Pen.These are hand held pens containing OCR softwarewhich enables them to scan and read words andphrases; they also include a dictionary to explain whata word means.

Adults who have more significant reading difficulty mayneed to go for a complete text-to-speech option, usingscreen reading software. Screen reading software willread any text on the computer screen, whether it istext which the person has just typed, an email orwebpage, or pages of a textbook which have beenscanned into the computer. When used together ascanner and screen reading package can make evenvery slow readers self-sufficient. The reading voice andreading speed can be adjusted; words can be read


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word-by-word, in sentences or continuous passages.Text scanned in can even be converted to an audio fileformat and downloaded onto an MP3 player to belistened to later.

Examples of this type of screen reading programmeare ClaroRead, Kurzweil and TextHelp. ClaroReadand TextHELP have additional features supporting theproduction of written work, e.g. talking spell checker,homophone checkers and predictive typing. ClaroReadworks closely alongside Dragon Dictate (see below)resulting in seamless dictation and proof reading oftext. Mobile versions of this type of software are nowavailable (the programme comes on a USB drive); thismeans that the student can carry the software withthem and use it on any compatible computer.

Writing supportAccess to even a basic word processing programmecan be helpful, and a person with dyslexia will producebetter work on a computer than if they werehandwriting. The computer will always produce clearlegible writing, whereas handwriting may be difficult toread. Spelling can be checked using the spellchecker.

Editing and rearranging text is easy, so users do nothave to rewrite laboriously to produce a final draft. Thisfacility also helps those who have sequencingdifficulties as it is easy to edit the text so as torearrange the sequence. Forgotten information cansimply be added in later, or a paragraph moved toimprove the flow of the passage.


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Screen readers are also a very useful tool forsupporting writing. They allow the user to hear anyerrors, e.g. a mis-typed word, or an incompletesentence. ClaroRead and TextHELP also have ahomophone checker; possible homonyms e.g.their/there, bare/bear, beech/beach, are identified inthe text and the user is then given guidance to helpidentify whether they have the correct word. Bothprogrammes also have word prediction.

Software such as Textease, Co:Writer and Penfriendsupport writing with features such as talkingspellcheckers, which makes the choosing of the correctspelling easier, and word prediction, which canincrease the speed of written production and in sodoing increase the individualʼs confidence in theirwriting ability.

Voice recognition software, which was originallydesigned so that astronauts could use computers whiletucked up in their space suits, is ideally suited for olderstudents and adults who have to produce extendedpieces of written work such as long essays. Allinstructions can be given verbally; the computer willtype as you speak. Dragon Naturally Speaking is themost commonly used programme of this type. Whilethis type of software has improved greatly over the lastdecade, it will rarely be 100% accurate. There is aninitial training period where the programme learnsabout the userʼs voice, and the accuracy does improvewith usage, as each time the programme is used itlearns more about the userʼs voice, speech patternsand the vocabulary commonly use. A compatible digital


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voice recorder can be used with Dragon; this meansthat documents can be created by voice anywhere, andwhen the digital recorder is linked with the PC, Dragoncan then transcribe the document.

To get the best from both screen reading and voicerecognition software a powerful, modern computer,with a good soundcard is essential; theseprogrammes either may not work at all or else workpoorly on older machines. A good quality microphone isalso important, ideally one that limits external noisewhich can distract or confuse the software.

Organisational and Study SkillsA very common feature of dyslexia is poor organisationskills, which affects many areas, e.g. planning, keepingdeadlines, and especially the organisation ofinformation, whether it is making notes or composinglonger written passages.

Mind-mapping software programmes are very usefultools for those who are strong visual learners.Information can be converted into a visual mind-mapcontaining key information, pictures and showingconnections. Students can use mind-mapping softwareto create visual revision aids, but it can also be usedfor brainstorming, concept mapping and planning in theworkplace. Inspiration is the most commonly usedprogramme of this type.


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Wordswork is a multi-sensory programme on studyskills. While it was designed primarily forundergraduate students with dyslexia, it is relevant alsofor adults, particularly those who want to improve theirskills before going back to formal education. It usesgraphics, voiceovers, colour and humour to develop avariety of skills which students with dyslexia (andothers) need to address. Topics covered include essaywriting, memory strategies, exam revision and timemanagement. It also includes sections on reading,spelling, grammar and other areas.

There are some programmes on the market which mayhelp to improve memory using various interactiveactivities and games, e.g. Mastering Memory. Theypresent sequences of pictures, words and symbols tobe remembered, and gradually increase the difficultylevel and speed.


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Useful websites with information on the use oftechnology:

� British Educational Communications andTechnology Agency (BECTA)

� British Dyslexia Association (BDA)

� iAnsyst Ltd. (Texthelp)

Major Special Needs Software PublishersMost of their software can be bought from the supplierslisted below.

Crick Software www.cricksoft.comDon Johnston www.donjohnston.comInclusive Technology Ltd. Software www.inspiration.comRiverdeep Learning www.semerc.comSherston


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Specialist Suppliers

A wide variety of software and hardware cataloguesare available from the suppliers listed below:

Award Systems, 38 Pine Valley Park,Grange Road, Dublin 16.Tel: 01 4930011Website:

Diskovery, Unit 2, Waveney,Howth Harbour, Co. Dublin.Tel: 01 8063910Website:

Easy PC, Unit M7, Smithtown Industrial Estate,Shannon, Co. Clare.Tel. 061 719537Website:

iAnsyst Ltd., Fen House, Fen Road, Chesterton,Cambridge CB4 1UN, England.Tel. 0044 1223 420101Website:

Jackson Technology, 24 Kiltipper Avenue,Aylesbury, Dublin 24.Tel: 01 4518508 and 01 4624793Website:


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Scanning Pens Ltd., 6 The Quadrant, NewarkClose, Royston SC85HL, England.Tel: 0044 87 07203310Website:

TextHelp Systems Ltd., Enkalon Business Centre,25 Randalstown Road, Antrim,B41 4LJ Northern Ireland.Tel: 048 84942810Website:


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Appendix A: The Dyslexia Association of Ireland

The Dyslexia Association of Ireland (DAI) has beenworking with individuals with dyslexia for over thirtyyears. Its aim is to provide information, advice,assessment, tuition and support to people withdyslexia.

DAI is a company limited by guarantee that has charitystatus. It has an office at Suffolk Chambers, 1 SuffolkStreet, Dublin 2 and branches all around the country.See the website for details ofbranches. Membership of the DAI is open to anyinterested person and the fee is €40 per year (reducedrates available for people on low income).

Psycho-educational assessment for adults is availableat the office in Dublin. The cost in 2009 is €400.00.Some funding is available for people who cannot affordthe fee, i.e. those on social welfare or on very lowincomes. Please do ask if you need assistance with thefee.

Lists of teachers who are qualified to work with adultswith dyslexia can be supplied to members of theassociation who have been diagnosed as havingdyslexia.


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DAI sponsors a full-time course for unemployed adultswith dyslexia. This course is administered by FÁS andis supported by a grant from the Further Educationsection of the Department of Education and Science.The course is called Career Paths for People withDyslexia and is takes place in Celbridge, Co. Kildare.Further information is available from DAI at 016790276, or from the Career Paths Office,01 6270805 or from any FÁS office. The coursenumber to quote for FÁS enquiries is AT58F.

DAI also provides training courses for teachers andadult literacy tutors interested in learning more aboutworking with people with dyslexia. “Dyslexia awarenesstraining sessions can be arranged for companies andorganisations on request.”

Contact details for the Dyslexia Associationof Ireland:

Address: Suffolk Chambers,1 Suffolk Street, Dublin 2.

Telephone: 01 6790276

Email: [email protected]



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Appendix B: References and Useful Resources


Dyslexia: An Irish Perspective – by M. Ball, A.Hughes and W. McCormack, 2006, BlackhallPublishing. ISBN 1842180959.

Dyslexia in the Workplace – by D. Bartlett andS. Moody, 2000, Whurr Publishers.ISBN 978-1861561725.

Identical Triplets with Aspergerʼs Syndrome – by E.Burgoine and L. Wing, 1983, British Journal ofPsychiatry, Vol. 143, pp 261-5.

The Mind Map Book – Radiant Thinking – by T.Buzan, 2000 edition, BBC Books.ISBN 978-0563537328.

The Asperger Social Guide: How to Relate toAnyone in any Social Situation as an Adult withAspergerʼs Syndrome – by G. Edmonds andD. Worton, 2006, Chapman Educational Publishing.ISBN 978-1412920247.

Overcoming Low Self-esteem – by M. Fennell, 1999,Robinson Publishers. ISBN 978-1854877253.

Making Dyslexia Work for You: A Self-Help Guide(with CD) – by V. Goodwin and B. Thomson, 2004,David Fulton Publishers.ISBN 978-1843120919.


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Overcoming Dyslexia – by B. Morris, 2002. Article inFortune Magazine.

Adult Dyslexia: Assessment, Counselling andTraining – by D. McLoughlin, G. Fitzgibbon and V.Young, 1994, Whurr Publishers.ISBN 1897635354.

The Adult Dyslexic: Interventions and Outcomes –by D. McLoughlin, C. Leather and P. Stringer, 2002,Whurr Publishers.ISBN 1861560451.

Teaching the Brain to Read – by D. Milne, 2002, SKPublishing.ISBN 0958256136.

Dyslexia in Adults: Education and Employment – byG. Reid and J. Kirk, 2001, Wiley Publishers. ISBN0471852058.

A.D.D. on the Job: Making Your A.D.D. Work for You– by L. Weiss, 1996, Taylor Trade Publishing.ISBN 978-0878339174.

In the Mindʼs Eye – by T.G. West, 1997, PrometheusBooks.ISBN 978-1573921558.


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Useful Websites: Dyslexia Associationof Ireland Association for HigherEducation Access andDisability Deptartment of Education& Science FÁS National Councilfor Guidance in Education National AdultLiteracy Agency National Learning Network British Dyslexia Association Adult Dyslexia Organisation


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