The common understanding of Dyslexia is it is a condition which causes difficulty with reading, writing and spelling; ‘children who get their letters back to front’.
Early attempts to describe the condition did focus on its implications for written language skills, particularly reading, but the modern understanding is much broader. Dyslexia is for life and the constitutional difference which caused problems with reading, writing and spelling persists into adulthood.
What is Dyslexia?
People with Dyslexia have a differently organized brain structure and therefore have a different way of learning and organizing their thoughts.
This may cause a variety of ‘symptoms’, and the particular selection and severity to which each is affected will vary from person to person.
The condition is independent of intelligence but those in whom it is most easily recognized are those who range from average intelligence to those who are exceptionally bright.
Studies have shown that 1 in 6 of the population will be affected to some degree and may need help for their difficulties at some stage in their life.
Types of difficulties
The most common weakness is in short term memory, whether visual or auditory. It is this which makes it difficult for the Dyslexic to learn the correspondence between the written symbol and spoken word. Language represents a memorised code and written symbols are the code for spoken sounds.
Sequencing is often another weakness. Besides affecting spelling – getting the letters in the right order – it also has a bearing on planning and organization.
Reading for information is often not a problem, though reading aloud is very difficult for some Dyslexic people.
In the identification of Dyslexia, ‘incongruity’ is the keyword.
A discrepancy may be observed between academic achievement and real life performance in practical problem solving and verbal skills.
The Dyslexic person will often have an aversion to writing notes, reports, or, in fact, anything at all.
He may have difficulties with organization, or may be ‘super-organized’ as a compensating strategy.
Note: The Dyslexic adult will often have developed excellent coping strategies and avoidance techniques and may be quite difficult to identify.
Dyslexic adults will often refuse promotion, even if the job is well within their capabilities, if the new post requires more literacy skills.
The Employer’s role
Dyslexia is best thought of as an alternative or different learning style. By using methods which suit their learning style, Dyslexics can overcome many of their problems.
A good employer will bear in mind the incidence of Dyslexia and that several of his employees may be Dyslexic. There will be those whose problems are obvious in that they relate to basic literacy skills but there will be those whose difficulties only manifest themselves subtly. There is much that an employer can do to make it possible for the Dyslexic person to carry out his job efficiently.
Training and induction courses, interviews and all presentations need not rely heavily on the written word. Multi-sensory (hearing, seeing, saying, doing) aids should be used where at all possible.
Internally produced policies, procedures and factual data can be kept to a minimum and produced with good indexing for easy retrieval.
Pictograms can be used wherever possible for instructions and information.
Proud to be Dyslexic
Assessor and Trainer for Dyslexia Awareness in the Workplace in the UK – Retired
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