Health

Adults, too, can get help for dyslexia

Many people are highly intelligent, yet they struggle in learning situations or in their work life.

This often means they need to take time away from work or studies, and may also feel like they are misunderstood, leading them to experience stress and various other unpleasant emotions.

They may think that they have some fundamental flaw while something else entirely may be at play.

This begs the question: "Can adults have dyslexia?"

With Oct 4 being World Dyslexia Awareness Day, it is timely to revisit the condition.

Dyslexia is a learning impairment that makes reading more challenging than it should be, but there is absolutely no connection between dyslexia and intelligence.

The brains of people with dyslexia simply work differently and for that reason they have difficulty connecting written letters or words and sounds.

Most people think of dyslexia as a childhood disability, but this perception is not entirely correct. Sometimes, dyslexia can go undiagnosed for many years and often it is only truly recognised in adulthood.

Even though difficulty in reading is the hallmark of dyslexia, most adults find strategies to work around this.

Adults with dyslexia commonly have a range of other distinct characteristics that may point toward this learning disability like memory problems, poor organisational skills or slowness in working.

Typically, they may report things like low self-esteem, a lack of confidence, an inability to study, feelings of embarrassment or an unexplained difficulty relating to people.

So what does dyslexia look like in adults?

In several ways, dyslexia presents similarly in children and adults.

Signs to look out for include visual problems, like sensitivity to the colour or font of words or the paper they are written on.

They may also struggle with correct spelling, often spelling words the way they sound.

There is also difficulty focusing on what they are reading, and they may keep losing their place or feel like the words are jumbled.

Someone with dyslexia might have difficulty sequencing their thoughts or summarising the information needed to present at meetings, express their ideas during conference calls or board meetings, or writing reports.

Adults with dyslexia commonly struggle to follow a specific train of thought and they often forget what they were writing to begin with.

They may confuse similar-looking words or letters while reading or writing and have difficulty understanding metaphors, jokes or idioms.

If you are concerned that you display signs of dyslexia, get yourself tested for it.

A speech therapist or psychologist will be able to support or direct you to where you can get answers and what you can do to get ahead of the problem.

It is never too late to start seeking help.

View it as a positive experience in which you have an opportunity for greater self-understanding, and you might just have a chance to learn ways in which you can face this challenge head on.

The writer is a speech-language pathologist with over 10 years of professional experience including work in acute and rehabilitation hospitals and special schools in Australia and Singapore

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