If you are reading this page you are presumably an adult who is wondering if you could be dyslexic…
So you think you may be dyslexic?
If you are reading this page the presumably you are an adult who has is wondering if you may be dyslexic, having not been diagnosed during education. Sadly, that is not uncommon.
How might dyslexia affect you?
Dyslexia affects everyone differently. It is often thought of as simply a reading and spelling problem. However, as Dr David McLoughlin says in the British Dyslexia Association publication “Employment and Dyslexia”, “To understand it in this way is akin to thinking of chicken pox as spots rather than a virus.”
Those of us who have atained a high level of formal education and are working in professional careers are therefore likely to be what David McLoughlin calls “literate dyslxics” – our difficulties extending far beyond literacy. In many cases, this is connected with how we process information and may touch areas such as:
- Organisation – Difficulties with personal organisation and in the workplace. Need to make extra efforts to stay in on-top-of things.
- Time management – Underestimating, overestimating, forgetting appointments, not coping well with changes to a diary.
- Social communication – Recalling names, words, labels. Mix up word order.
- Writing – Organising ideas when writing. Write by repeatedly editing. Take a long time to write or write as little as possible.
- Spelling – Particularly in context.
- Reading – Read slowly. Need to read multiple times to assimilate the content. Tend look for diagrams rather than text. Don’t proof read work well.
- Verbal instructions – Difficulty capturing verbal instructions. Have trouble remembering lists of things.
- Maths – Procedures, data entry and mental arithmetic.
How this affects us depends often on factors such as family background, education and personality also have a huge effect.
However, dyslexia is defined as a pattern of strengths and weaknesses.
- Visual thinking – Great at visual thinking- thinking in pictures
- Spatially aware – This means many dyslexics can imagine complex 3D objects in detail so are employed as engineers, architects, designers, artists etc.
- Lateral thinking – Fast problem solvers, able to think laterally
- Problem solvers – Excellent trouble-shooters
- Intuitive – They are intuitive- good at reading people
- Verbally articulate – Strong verbal communicators
- Creative– Many dyslexics are employed in creative professions as designers, artists, actors, chefs etc.
Just because this is the case, it does not mean that these strengths are naturally present in everyone, or that they are fully recognised by those around us.
If some of this feels familiar then keep reading.
Why haven’t I noticed until now?
Different careers and even different roles place very different demands on individuals so emphasise different aspects of the challenges people face – so something that was not an issue in one role could suddenly become an issue in another. That means some people only realise they are dyslexic when something in their work changes – perhaps a greater emphasis on written reporting, more presentations to do, more staff etc.
Experience also helps us find coping mechanisms. Its surprising how well we manage to come up with “work-arounds” even without any formal diagnosis or help.
If I have managed this long without knowing… why bother?
This is a very personal question – I think the answer is different for everyone. Perhaps for some it many not matter at all. If the difficulties you suffer are small and well mitigated by coping strategies that you have already developed, if you are clear on your strengths and them to great effect then perhaps there is no point (other than being a roll model for others). However, if the difficulties you have are substantial and/or your strengths are also exagerated then it is fairly likely that some professional insight would help.
I should stress, this is a personal view and the situation is different for everyone. If in doubt, I would contact the British Dyslexia Association helpline for advice.
Speaking personally, I can say that diagnosis made a huge positive difference to my life. It allowed me to understand my strengths and weaknesses in a new way… it allowed me to start to act on that knowledge. That has begun to made a big difference to my life – both personally and professionally.
Ok, so how do I find out?
There are quite a few options.
Checklist (not diagnosis)
Although not a diagnosis, a checklist can sometimes offer insight. The British Dyslexia Association offers a link to a checklist for adults.
Please remember that adult dyslexics (particularly successful adult dyslexics) have often found many coping strategies themsleves or simply gravitated towards careers that emphasise their strengths. Therefore, when answering each question, I would suggest you consider whether you have mitigating strategies in place already and and either adjust your answer accordingly or simply judge the overall score taking that in to account.
Screening (not diagnosis)
Screening for Dyslexia can often be conducted online and some carry a small cost from £30 – £50.
The benefit of using screening tools is that it is something that the individual can do on their own without the need for a professional qualification. It is not a diagnosis.
Full diagnostic assessment
Dyslexia can be diagnosed by Chartered Psychologists specialising in adult dyslexia who may also be able to identify frequently co-occurring conditions such as Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and Attention Deficit Disorder. These professionals are usually Educational or Occupational Psychologists. Occasionally Clinical Psychologists specialise in this area. Occupational Therapists often play an important part in assessment of Dyspraxia. There is usually a significant cost to this type of assessment as it is not normally available on the NHS.
Full assessments for adults would take around 3 hours and would be followed by a detailed written report with broad recommendations for support and accommodations.
The British Dyslexia Association helpline can provide further advice. Equally, the website provides appropriate links to assessors.