Dyslexia Action
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Does Dyslexia Define Me ?

I hear people saying that they 'don't want to be defined by their dyslexia', so what does this mean? what does it mean to me ? do I not want to be defined by my dyslexia ? Well I think people mean that they want to be seen by others for the person they are, the student, the parent, the professional, rather than as 'Bob the dyslexic'. For me it would be nice to be seen as 'Rob the IT Professional, good at something's not great at others'. But all too often I just get seen as 'Rob the not up too much'. If you were lucky enough to have your dyslexia diagnosed when you were at school and you get a fair shot at your education, are able to make informed career decisions and are then able to build a successful working life in your chosen field then I guess you don't get defined by your dyslexia. But if like me, you were not diagnosed until you were well into adulthood, didn't get a fair shot at your education, were not able to make informed career decisions, then it's a whole different story.

Often I am faced with the dilemma that if I don't mention my dyslexia then people will look at my c.v and see mediocre academic achievement and a rather lack lustre career. So they may conclude that I am someone who is a little lazy, not too bright and lacking ambition. This is not how I would like people to see me or the person that I am. Explain that I am dyslexic and that I was not diagnosed until I was nearly 30 then that pass degree in Economics obtained in my early 20s looks totally different and so on.

Society forces dyslexics to be seen as a weak link needing support. School and the work place are set up to suit the non-dyslexic majority, so the dyslexic child is labelled the 'Special Needs Kid' and if not diagnosed then just as 'thick and lazy'. At work the dyslexic employee is seen as 'disabled' needing to have adjustments in order to do their job. Dyslexia is just a different way of thinking, very right brain dominant rather than the left brain ways of the majority. So we need to learn differently and need to work in different ways, we are special but not needy, we are able.

Over the years I have constantly had people misinterpreting my 'Dyslexicness' as low ability, laziness etc. At school it was being labelled as thick and lazy, teachers doubting my intelligence. My peer group mocking my hand writing, calling me thick because I struggle to memorise the complicated rules of a new board game. Being told I could never write a book because 'I could hardly write my own name'. At work being criticised for making 'avoidable data errors', being ridiculed because you struggle to concentrate in the noisy open plan office, being sidelined because your 'Dyslexic ways' have been misinterpreted as low ability rather than being seen for what they are. Now with the confidence and understanding that comes with age I push some of this back. So I struggle to proof read, I spell badly, I need a few seconds to gather my thoughts in conversation, I struggle with personal organisation, I need time to 'over learn' new processes, I struggle to focus in a noisy environment and so on. On the other hand I am good at seeing the 'big picture', good at making connections from incoming information, quick to grasp new concepts, have good judgement, strong powers of analysis, have a very good long term memory, am an innovative problem solver, good at reading people, know how to listen and so on. I now kick back at the left brain majority with 'Can't you see that connection', 'didn't you realise that was going to happen', 'can't you remember' and so on.

Does Dyslexia define me ? Well it would be nice if I was just allowed to work and learn in a way that suits me, was valued for my abilities and not persecuted for my perceived weaknesses. Declaring that I am dyslexic helps people understand why I am the way I am, so in many ways it does define me. It would be good to live in a world where this definition was seen as a positive thing and not, as all too often, a weakness.

6 Replies

Thank you for your letter , good news for others on how things can work out in the end , never to old to learn new things .


Hey Ham02, I couldn't have put it better myself. I'm total in agreement with you. perhaps you could give me some tactics to help me find work. I have a degree, which is where i was diagnosed with dyslexia while studying, I was 41 when I got diagnosed. Now I just cant seem to move on and get a job, every job I have applied for has told me that I have not been successful this time, I must be doing something wrong?


Wonderful letter.So many of us were not diagnosed at school,in fact I was never diagnosed (I am 60 next birthday.) I hated school and being left handed aswell didn't help. Both my sisters went to grammer school,which left me feelinf a failier.

Good luck to those that can get help and keep looking for chimneys as for that you must keep looking up not down in your boots.


I work as a teaching assistant and I think it's made me a very empathetic, understanding person. So I think it's defined me in that sense. Unfortunatly still a lot of employers especially unless maybe a creative career embrace the positive sides of the condition and people are mocked for the negatives.


Dear Ham02 and all other readers,

Thank you for your eloquent letter. It should be posted at human resources and school administrative offices and teacher training schools all over the world!

I used to think I was stupid. My classmates and many of my coworkers thought i was stupid. I could not survive in an office environment, and I could not earn an advanced degree. Then when my high IQ was revealed, I was considered lazy and unmotivated.

I found peace and pleasant companionship in menial labor,considered "unworthy" of my intelligence and education according to family and friends.

In recent years I was referred to a book about dyslexia, which explained that dyslexia is a much more serious and pervasive condition than merely reversing letters. Not only that, but many highly intelligent persons who have contributed to our culture have suffered with this condition. These were people like Einstein, Maxwell, Faraday, and Tesla, to name a few. The book is titled "In the Mind's Eye" by Thomas G. West, Prometheus Books 1997.

I recommend this books to all dyslexics, suspected dyslexics, and their friends and loved ones. After reading it you will feel that perhaps we are the better half of humanity!

Cheers! digits


This is a great letter an would like to thank you for puting it into words, have enjoy reading it



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