What is Dyslexia




Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty, which affects the way a person processes information in their brain.  For instance, it can affect the ability to process the sounds of language (phonological skills), track a series of numbers (visual processing skills), and generally process information quickly and accurately (working memory).  As a result, dyslexia hinders the acquisition of adequate literacy skills, such as reading, writing and spelling.

There are two main types of dyslexia:

Developmental Dyslexia - put simply, when a person is born with the condition.  It is associated with abnormalities in parts of the brain responsible for visual (seeing words) and auditory (sounds in words) processing.  The condition is initially discovered when an individual's reading ability is significantly behind for their age, despite normal intelligence, and adequate educational opportunities.  

Acquired Dyslexia (Alexia) - refers to the loss of one or more areas of literacy (i.e. reading, writing, spelling) in an individual whose literacy skills were previously intact.  This condition may occur when an individual has suffered some damage to the left hemisphere of the brain, as a result of a head injury, a stroke, or a neurological impairment.  However, it may occur even though it may not be possible to link it to a specific injury or abnormality in brain structure.

Dyslexia, whether developmental in nature or acquired, does not imply low intelligence or poor educational potential.  People with dyslexia can be intelligent, creative and talented.  There are many well-known entrepreneurs, actors, authors, chefs, and sports champions who have dyslexia and have achieved great success including:

  • Richard Branson (Virgin brand founder)
  • The late Anita Rodick (founder of The Body Shop)
  • Bill Gates (Microsoft founder)
  • Keira Knightley (Actress)
  • Jamie Oliver (Chef)
  • Ruby Wax (TV Presenter & Leadership Communication Specialist)
  • Jackie Stewart (Motor Racing Legend)
  • Agatha Christie (Writer)
  • Magic Johnson (Professional Basketball Player)
  • Kirsty Alsopp (TV Presenter)
  • Orlando Bloom (Actor)


Approximately 1 in 10 of the UK population are living with dyslexia; 1 in 4 of these are severely affected.   

What are the Signs?

It is not unusual for people to reach adulthood without having their dyslexic difficulties formally identified.  Dyslexia is unique from one individual to the next, therefore people will display some or a combination of characteristics in different forms and degrees of severity.  Signs that an adult may have dyslexia include:

  • Difficulty following multiple instructions
  • Difficulty with note taking
  • Issues with sequencing words or ideas
  • Difficulty concentrating and easily distracted by background noise
  • Difficulty with reading, including speed and accuracy
  • Problems with organisational skills, including time management
  • Poor spelling
  • Re-reading information to understand the context and meaning


All of the above can lead to a lack of confidence and can cause frustration for the individual with dyslexia.  However, dyslexia is also characterised by a combination of the following strengths:

  • Innovative
  • Problem solving skills
  • Good at seeing the bigger picture
  • Thinking "outside the box"
  • Creative with good visual skills
  • Skilled at multidimensional thinking

How is it Diagnosed?

At Ability Smart, a dyslexia diagnosis involves a suitably qualified and experienced assessor conducting a range of comprehensive diagnostic and advisory services.  These include:

  • Pre-assessment Questionnaire - to gain a detailed understanding of the adult's difficulties, and their medical and educational history;
  • Cognitive Functioning Assessment - to gain an overview of the adult's abilities such as; short term visual memory, short term auditory memory, verbal comprehension, and perceptual organisation;
  • Reading, Writing and Spelling Analysis - to assess the adult's literacy attainment and identify any specific problem areas.


For adults in the workplace, Ability Smart offers the following additional services:

  • Workplace Needs Assessment - to determine how the adult's dyslexia affects them at work and to recommend strategies to address these issues;
  • Adult Learner's Profile - a service offered in conjunction with a Workplace Needs Assessment for adults who have previously undergone a diagnostic assessment.  This will identify their preferred learning style.

What Solutions are Available?

Ability Smart delivers a wide range of tailored interventions for adults in the workplace who have been diagnosed with dyslexia.  This includes: 

  • One-to-one Support Training


The difficulties associated with dyslexia can be alleviated by adopting various compensatory strategies, to minimise the effects of this condition.  Ability Smart recommends:

  • The use of Assistive Technology.  This has had a significant impact on empowering adults with dyslexia.  Software can now transfer text to speech, which aids in processing information if the individual has difficulty with reading.
  • Using a digital voice recorder.  This enables adults to record verbal instructions and then play them back.  It is particularly useful when having to dictate notes, for example from a meeting.

Ability Smart believes that, with the appropriate adjustments put in place, an adult's true potential can really be unlocked.

To learn more about the solutions offered by Ability Smart, click here.

Find out More!

  • Contact Ability Smart to enquire about an assessment for dyslexia by clicking here.