"Dyslexia is a combination of abilities and difficulties; the difficulties affect the learning process in aspects of literacy and sometimes numeracy. Coping with required reading is generally seen as the biggest challenge at Higher Education level due in part to difficulty in skimming and scanning written material. A student may also have an inability to express his/her ideas clearly in written form and in a style appropriate to the level of study. Marked and persistent weaknesses may be identified in working memory, speed of processing, sequencing skills, auditory and/or visual perception, spoken language and motor skills. Visuo-spatial skills, creative thinking and intuitive understanding are less likely to be impaired and indeed may be outstanding. Enabling or assistive technology is often found to be very beneficial." (SASC)



  • having to reread text in order to retain its meaning, such as including books, emails and reports
  • sometimes finding it challenging to break down and sound out unfamiliar words when reading
  • taking time to process what is being read
  • finding to put your thoughts onto paper and perhaps having to go through a long editing process
  • finding it hard to remember verbal instructions
  • finding it hard to take notes in class or copy from the board at the same speed as other people
  • spelling being weaker in a piece of free writing when compared to a spelling test
  • having to work very hard to achieve good grades


Some people report difficulties with text moving around the page, the letters looking blurry, eyes feeling tired, etc. However, this may be due to 'visual stress' rather than dyslexia. Visual stress is known as Irlen Syndrome in the United States and is thought to affect around 25% of the population. If text distortion is experienced, it is advisable to find a behavioural optometrist at www.babo.co.uk before a dyslexia assessment is conducted.


It can be helpful to know that having a specific learning difficulty does not mean that you can not achieve your goals. Indeed, many people with SpLDs play to their strengths which can include creativity, lateral thinking, being empathetic, etc. Over the years, I have assessed many artists, photographers, architects, company directors, teachers, nurses, GPs, vets, YouTube stars, A&E consultants, an international human rights lawyer and a GB Olympian.

Here are names of just some famous people with dyslexia who have not let their difficulties hold them back:                                                                                                                 

Film, television and music: Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney, Mollie King (from the Saturdays), Noel Gallagher, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Kara Tointon (from EastEnders and winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2010), Joss Stone, Dustin Hoffman, Whoopi Goldberg, Harrison Ford, John Lennon, Robbie Williams, Cher

Authors and poets: Hans Christian Anderson, Agatha Christie, Benjamin Zephaniah, Liz Pichon (Tom Gates books), Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants books) 

Architects and artists: Richard Rogers (architect of the Millennium Dome and Pompidou Centre in Paris), Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso, Rodin, Andy Warhol

Successful business people: Bill Gates (Microsoft Chairman), Steve Jobs (founder of Apple), Sir Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin brand). William Hewlett (co-founder of Hewlett Packard)

Chefs: Marco Pierre White, Jamie Oliver

Others: Prince Harry, Sir Steven Redgrave, Holly Willoughby