Educationalist Mike Styles says dyslexia is the ultimate enigma, and it’s a major problem here on the Kapiti Coast.
At its simplest it is a condition where intelligent people struggle with words and text.
At the local Kapiti Coast level, one in ten people will have dyslexia, either mildly or severely and most of those who do have dyslexia will not be aware of it.
People with dyslexia can achieve
Mike, a dyslexia practitioner, says people with dyslexia can be high achievers in other ways, but they struggle with reading, writing, and spelling. It is definitely not an indication of low intelligence.
As in Kapiti, dyslexia affects around 10% of the general population and occurs in all languages, cultures, and ethnicities.
It’s a neurological condition that lasts a lifetime, so a child with dyslexia grows up to be an adult with dyslexia.
An inherited condition
Dyslexia affects both genders equally. The brain of a dyslexic person is wired differently. It is an inherited condition.
Many will suspect it, but not ever been sure. Older people will have struggled at school and not ever known why. Most put it down to “being a bit slow”.
Many people with dyslexia have low self-esteem and confidence and work in jobs where they can work without their embarrassing difficulties being noticed.
Some tell-tale signs:
- Really bad spellers
- Those who find excuses to avoid reading or writing in front of people. Excuses like ‘I left my glasses at home’.
- Those who left school early
- People who are much stronger orally than they are on paper.
- People who are often very capable at their job, but shy away from meetings or positions of responsibility in their workplace
Sadly, dyslexia was once (though no longer) denied by the Ministry of Education and other government agencies.
Dyslexic learners were not identified at school and most languished without their needs being met. With effective interventions dyslexic children can succeed as well as their non-dyslexic counterparts.
The sad legacy of unaddressed dyslexia in NZ:
- Most children with dyslexia underachieve at school and leave early.
- At least 50% of the prison population show up as positive for dyslexia.
- Dyslexia is linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and mental illness.
- The rates of suicide are higher in people identified as dyslexic.
- Dyslexia is linked to higher workplace accident rates (because they struggle to read the Health and Safety signage) and lower workplace productivity
The story of Thomas
Thomas finished his Plumbing apprenticeship but could not pass his registration examination. He remained a journeyman and could not secure his registration as a full tradesperson.
He has dyslexia but is a first-rate plumbing practitioner. Fortunately, he had his dyslexia identified and was able to pass his registration examination via an alternative pathway. His annual income has gone up dramatically.
In the next article I will cover off the positive side of dyslexia and what to do if you or somebody you love has dyslexia.