Characteristics of dyslexia

You can recognize a (young) adult as being dyslexic through one or more of the following characteristics:

  • dyslexia-sjan-verhoeven-work-spelling-lettersdifficulty with reading and/or writing in general;
  • trouble with the coupling of letters to sounds causing difficulties with reading, recognising and reproducing letters and words;
  • misinterpreting an image of a word or phrase: dyslexics read or write the wrong words or phrases, or the grammar of a written sentence is not correct;
  • reduced processing speed for words;
  • difficulties with other aspects of language, such as correctly structuring your story or idea or presenting yourself effectively;
  • thinking in concepts, images, pictures and associations - a very fast way of thinking because a few images say so much more than a few words;
  • trouble with providing the gist of your story verbally or on paper;
  • difficulty with producing the right answer at the right time, for example during a meeting, although you have a perfect picture of the answer in your head;
  • difficulties with motor coordination;
  • struggling with calculations or the sequence of numbers;
  • concentration problems;
  • difficulty with personal organization, that is to say organising your thoughts, your day, your work tasks, your calendar and your time;
  • working below your level of intelligence, which includes the following two aspects:
  • knowing the correct solutions, but because it is difficult to put them into words, looking more 'stupid' then you really are;
  • seeing solutions that your boss does not see and therefore repeatedly having conflicts with him or her;
  • experiencing fear of failure or panic when doing exams or reading/writing important texts (postponing these kind of activities is also a form of fear of failure);
  • experiencing that "you have it in you, but it doesn't come out";
  • uncertainty or low self-esteem as a result of the above;
  • not knowing what your specific qualities are because you have always been focussed on what other people can do well (reading and writing) and you cannot.

Important facts about dyslexia

There are two important additions to be made to the above characteristics of dyslexia. If people are unfamiliar with these, it often leads to misunderstandings or misconceptions at work or school.

1.  Dyslexia affects every level of intelligence. Dyslexia is often associated with being stupid and that is not true. Very smart people can be dyslexic too, as well as those with an average or below average IQ.

2.  Dyslexia is best seen as a gradual spectrum or continuum and not as a separate category of phenomena: there are no clear yes/no criteria. In other words the symptoms of dyslexia are not present equally or to the same degree. One dyslexic has difficulty with reading, another makes a lot of errors in writing, some have both and others have most difficulty with oral communication. So even if someone can read quickly, he or she may still be dyslexic.


Dyslexia much more than problems with reading and spelling

On this website you will find that our definition of dyslexia is very broad. Usually dyslexia is very narrowly defined, which has big consequences as the mother of Tessa tells us:

When our daughter Tessa was aged nine, tests proved she had dyslexia. After she had done the tests, she was given six months of remedial teaching. Every day she practiced hard and very carefully. After these six months, she did another test and what was found: her progress was so good that she was no longer regarded as dyslexic.

So the official diagnosis of dyslexia was relinquished and all the specific support was no longer available. Now she is in the first year of secondary school and she greatly regrets that she worked so hard at the time. She now reads better than when she was nine, but for the amount of information she now has to deal with, it's not nearly fast enough. Furthermore, it's not just reading that gives so much trouble, but during tests it's very difficult for her to put her knowledge into words quickly enough. But that doesn't count for the experts, that's not tested.

Her sister is also dyslexic, has had not enough progress in remedial teaching and now has the official diagnosis of dyslexia. She gets all the support she needs. Tessa thinks this is so unfair. Because she worked so hard during the remedial teaching, she must now work harder than ever to get all her homework done."