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Disability and Dyslexia Service

What is Dyslexia?

Around 10% of the population are dyslexic. Dyslexia occurs in people from all backgrounds and of all abilities. Dyslexia is a mix of both difficulties and strengths and varies in degree from person to person. There may be an overlap with other Specific Learning Differences (SpLDs) such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) with Hyperactivity (ADHD), dyspraxia and Conditions on the Autistic Spectrum (ASC).

The word 'dyslexia' comes from Greek and means 'difficulty with words'. Generally, it is a difference in how the brain deals with language, and therefore affects the under-lying skills that are needed for reading, comprehending, writing and spelling effectively. Brain imaging techniques also show that dyslexic people process information differently.

The right hemisphere of the brain is associated with creativity, intuition, imagination, patterns and holistic views of the world. The left hemisphere is associated with activities requiring sequencing, ordering, and the use of language, such as reading, writing, spelling, timekeeping and organisation. People with dyslexia tend to have difficulty using both hemispheres efficiently, thus have unique difficulties and strengths.

Dyslexic people of all ages can learn effectively but often need a different approach to suit their learning style. A bespoke specialist support package can be provided based upon individual student needs, which are identified specifically from a diagnostic assessment report. Each case of dyslexia is different and is viewed individually.

Dyslexia Definition

Dyslexia is not easily defined; however, the following definition attempts to provide not only an overview of the difficulties, but also a more positive and encouraging way of viewing dyslexia:

“Dyslexia is a neurological difference or dysfunction in persons of any IQ level, from below average to gifted. It is a neurological status, which may cause academic difficulties and impede the ability to organize, plan and schedule effectively. As a status, it is permanent and irreversible. Many dyslexics have in common a history of frustration and failure, especially in school. The difficulties, however, are surmountable. Dyslexics also have uncommon gifts, skills and talents in many fields; the creative arts, architecture, engineering, construction, mathematics, physics, electronics, computer science, law, medicine, banking and finance, sports, entertainment and others. In the best circumstances, dyslexia is an opportunity to excel”.

Tri Services National Institute of Training and Research in Dyslexia, United States of America (quoted in Krupska, M., Klein, C., 1995, p.10)

Possible Strengths

  • Innovative thinkers - creative in many different ways
  • Excellent trouble shooting skills
  • Intuitive problem solving
  • Reading accuracy strategies may be good
  • Lateral thinkers

Possible Difficulties

  • Misreading - making comprehension difficult
  • Missing lines or words out
  • Difficulty with sequences, e.g. getting dates in order
  • Poor organisation or time management
  • Difficulty organising thoughts clearly or structuring written work
  • Erratic spelling
  • Poor short-term memory

What Causes Dyslexia?

Dyslexia can be hereditary so other family members may show similar characteristics, or it may be acquired, for instance through head injury, illness or stroke.

Although dyslexia cannot be made to disappear, its effects may be much reduced when people with dyslexia learn in ways that suit them and at their own speed. Dyslexic people can create and adapt strategies to help them to overcome many of their difficulties. Staff here at QMUL are trained to explain and support you both prior to and post diagnosis.

For further information see:

To discuss any of the above please make an appointment with an adviser by emailing DDS or calling us on 020 7882 2756.

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