Dyslexia Action

Is my partner dyslexic? ADD? Both? Or neither? Please help me understand him.

I am in a relatively new relationship with a most beautiful person that also has the potential to drive me round the bend. I feel that some things ring true with dyslexia or ADD but not others.

He's always late.

Everyone in his family says he doesn't listen but I see that he is simply not processing the information.

He says he has always had a bad memory.

He has very low self esteem: says his dad always used to get frustrated when trying to show him something new. He finds it difficult following instructions.

He loves stories but hates having to learn facts.

He can talk and talk and talk....

The one time I saw him really relax was when he canoed out into the middle of a lake and sat still for about 20 mins.

He is very patient and calm which seems to go against traditional claims for ADD

I noticed simple spelling mistakes and getting phone numbers mixed. He says it usually happens when he is tired and his brain is overloaded.

He is messy but realising being organised helps in the long run... But this takes a lot of effort.

He seems very good with people in an informal setting but seems to upset colleagues easily in a work environment.

He is very sensitive and picks up on mood changes in other people.

He is a good musician and finds focus and relaxation singing and playing guitar.

Does any of this ring true to anyone? I have suggested to him that he might be dyslexic and thought he might recognise some symptoms as he trained as a teacher but found difficulty with the mountain of paperwork.

Please help.

Thanks in anticipation.

13 Replies

dominiklukes or Danielle_DA may have an idea...?


People have all kinds of neurological differences, my father had some very difficult behaviours that my mother just could not understand. This lack of understanding lead to all kinds of misery for their children, all of whom had neurological challenges of their own. It is very difficult living in such a household. You have to ask yourself weather you can live happily and understand the challenges this person brings to a relationship. It does not matter what you call the differences, can you cope with them over the long term and be understanding and accepting.


The important thing for me is to raise his awareness as i think he deserves to receive the appropriate support in his chosen vocation. At present his training is not always delivered in a way most suited to his learning style.

Thank you for your reply.


Have you looked into the possibility of Asperger syndrome as well? This can cause the executive functioning difficulties and offending people without meaning to or realising.


Your friend's profile sounds very, very similar to mine - I am dyslexic. For me finding out I was dyslexic was very important, because it helped me to identify that I was very good a some quite complicated things (including intuitive things like picking up other peoples mood etc) but found it difficult to do what most people considered simple (paperwork, following instructions, processing conversation). As a dyslexic you see and do things differently - and there can be a special beauty in it, as you have seen with your friend.

The self-esteem issue is a very difficult one because family and society signal to you that what you are doing is not good enough. Actually, it is often just a different way, but not recognised. What people don't understand is that systems, resources and society is set up to support them - they aren't doing it on their own. Dyslexics have to do it on their own because systems are not set up to support them.

I feel for your friend. He doesn't have to live with poor self-esteem, but he probably needs to reach out to find support. If he is dyslexic working with a dyslexic-aware counsellor (preferably dyslexic themselves) could help him enormously to manage and work with his dyslexia. It has lots of advantages and it is who he is. Beautiful.

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He is indeed very beautiful and also incredibly sensitive to mood and emotions in others. Your reply has been most helpful. Where do i look for dyslexic counsellors in north Yorkshire? Any idea?

Thank you so much for your reply.


First, this is something your friend needs to want to do and be ready to do. I know you want to help and your support is definitely a wonderful thing to bring to your relationship, but be careful not to try to solve his difficulties for him.

There is a very good book called 'The Dyslexic Advantage', but what made me realise I was dyslexic was hearing some dyslexics talking about what they were passionate about, how they viewed the world and how they worked. I realised that I thought about things in the same way and had the same confusing mix of strengths and weaknesses. As a dyslexic I can relate to dyslexics talking about themselves, but not as well to descriptions of dyslexia by (expert) non-dyslexics. It is about how it feels!

After I came across dyslexia as a possible explanation for my difficulties, it took me some months to have the courage to take an assessment. For me that step was essential and such a relief to know. Then it took me 8 months to realise I needed help to sort it all out, so I began to see a counsellor (dyslexic herself) to talk it through. So it takes time and patience.

The main thing is for the two of you to have fun and support each other to journey in the wider world - that will bring joy to both your lives and the strength to move forward. Very best wishes!

Here are some useful contacts for information and advice:

Dyslexiaaction.org.uk has centres in N Yorkshire: dyslexiaaction.org.uk/find-us

British Dyslexia Association


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What makes you think he ADD? Everything u describe sounds like dyslexia. My mother was, my daughter is, read the 'dyslexic advantage'. Teachers and schools are very ignorant. I recentky did an online course run by coursera about picking up the signs of dyslexia in children. When my child was at school they made her do a computer programme that decided she wasn't, when I put her through the various exercises I learnt on the course she clearly was.! I had always thought so too. It is a spectrum.


I was never diagnosed with ADD although I was often told by people I spent alot of time with that I probably had ADD. It turns out people who are dyslexic are more likely to have ADD then others. The reason I never bothered talking to a doctor about it is because I wouldn't have taken medication for it regardless so as far as I was concerned it didn't matter.

If I were you I would encourage him to get a job that is best suited for him. Im working what would best be described as the worst job for a dyslexic person. I took the job for financial reasons and regret it. Of the 5 or so jobs I have had none have had special training for someone who might need it (to be honest I wouldn't want special training) telling people at work I am dyslexic has only worked against me, of the people I have told I'm dyslexic I regret telling about 80% of them.

Some other signs he might be dyslexic are, not being able to tell time on an analog clock, not being able to read out loud, terrible speller, not knowing his right from his left, struggling to remember how long ago events happened (saying something happened last month when it was last year) not being able to remember dates like birthdays or anniversaries. Dyslexics are usually good story tellers, enjoy design or physics.

I hope something I said helped feel free to ask me any questions

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Hi, thanks for your help. I believe my fella has found a job that is perfectly suited to him. Working with people, building on his beautiful sensitivity and deep empathy, however the training for the courses he delivers, have high demands on presentation without memory aids or at least with minimal aids as is possible. This is practically impossible as he gradually lets the course material sink in over time and increased familiarity. He is excellent at what he does but often falls short of expectations in training. I just wonder if more leniency would have to be shown if he had a diagnosis of dyslexia.

Many thanks for your help. I hope you are able to find your hearts passion in both work and play.


I would suggest that it is not really more 'leniency' that is needed but what is called 'accomodation' but actually is just about creating an environment that allows each person to show what they can do, rather than a one-size-fits-all environment that suits only a substantial subset. We want an environment we can thrive in and be productive. We don't want easy, but appropriate. The frustrating thing is to know you have strengths but to have that strength stifled by the environment you are put in.


Thank you for all your thoughtful, encouraging and helpful remarks. I reckon a gentle conversation will be on the cards in the near future.


Just took in your username - Durham! Here is the Durham Dyslexia Action centre:

Durham Learning Centre

Durham Workspace

Abbey Road, Pity Me



.United Kingdom




0300 303 2017

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