Read and Spell Blog

Learn more about adult dyslexia

Where to find help for adult dyslexia

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that can affect an individual’s ability to correctly identify and manipulate the sounds that make up spoken language. This in turn can negatively impact on reading and spelling skills.

Dyslexic adults are not less intelligent than other people, their brains simply process language in a different way. But because not everyone who has dyslexia is aware they are struggling with a specific learning difference, some individuals may believe they are stupid, not cut out for school, or are simply not skilled enough when it comes to reading and writing.

For dyslexic children and adults who don’t get the help they need, this can lead to feelings of low self-worth and a lack of confidence in the classroom or workplace. That’s why diagnosing dyslexia is an important first step, followed by seeking out support from local groups and national organizations, such as the British and American Dyslexia Associations.

There are different types of dyslexia and no two individuals will have exactly the same needs, but with access to the right accommodations and an effective strategy program, dyslexic adults can boost literacy skills, increase confidence and gain a better understanding of their own strengths and abilities.

How common is functional illiteracy?

How common is functional illiteracy?

Functional illiteracy is different from illiteracy. Adults who are functionally illiterate have some reading and writing ability, whereas a person who is illiterate has never been taught how to read or write. Thanks to government regulations that make school attendance mandatory, there are fewer illiterate people today compared to in past centuries. However, functional illiteracy is more common than you might think.

Some estimates suggest that 1 in 7 people in the United States and the United Kingdom struggles with literacy skills. Functional illiteracy is defined by the extent to which difficulties with reading and writing prevent an adult from serving as a functioning member of society.

Literacy skills are the key to graduating high school, getting a job, pursuing further education, accessing job training and advancing in your career. You also need to be able to read and write in order to use a computer, send emails and text messages to friends and family, engage on social media, and navigate the web.

Literacy blogs for adult education teachers

5 Literacy blogs

Teachers in adult education know that every learner brings a unique set of skills to the classroom and there is no one size fits all approach. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the top 5 literacy blogs to help educators exchange ideas and keep abreast of the latest research findings.

One of the most important things we learn at school is how to read and write. Literacy skills allow us to be functioning members of society, working and living productive and informed lives. Everything from the directions on a bottle of medicine to a job application requires reading.

That’s why it’s crucial for adults who struggle with literacy skills to have access to education opportunities. Moreover, programs should not only provide reading instruction, but also take into account the emotional and social aspects of returning to school as a mature learner. 

When learning disabilities in adults go undiagnosed

When learning disabilities in adults go undiagnosed

Learning disabilities are neurological differences in the way the human brain processes, stores and communicates information. Some estimates suggest that over 10% of the world’s population is affected by a learning disability such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and/or attention deficit disorder (ADHD). In extreme cases, they can cause individuals to miss out on literacy skills development, particularly when schools do not recognize the symptoms early on.

For adults, having an undiagnosed learning disability can affect career choice, limit job advancement and lead to a number of psychological and emotional issues, including depression and feelings of low self-worth. This is particularly true when the person interprets his or her past educational failures as personal faults and experiences feelings of embarrassment and shame because of a perceived intellectual deficiency.

The tragedy is that with the right diagnosis, coping strategies and accommodations can be put in place to help every individual with a learning disability achieve their full potential.

Writing in all caps

Writing in all caps

Capital and lower-case letters can look similar, like 'O' and ‘o,’ or they can look very different, like ‘A’ and ‘a.’ Nonetheless we still recognize that they are the same letter. This is because when children first start reading and writing they learn to associate two forms with the same sound. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that upper and lower-case letters are processed by the brain in the same manner.

3 Dyslexia Strengths

3 Dyslexia strengths you should know about

People with dyslexia possess many strengths thanks to the unique way in which their brains process stimuli, including language.

Many individuals with dyslexia are right-brain dominant. 

The right and left hemispheres of the brain are organized in a slightly different way. On the right, cells are more evenly distributed (vs. in clusters).

This means connections have to cross larger distances, which helps dyslexics with big-picture thinking, spotting patterns, and taking a more open and creative approach to problem-solving.

Dyslexics are often holistic rather than linear thinkers.

While memorizing facts may not be their strong suit, children and adults with dyslexia often have the ability to integrate personal experiences with acquired knowledge to generate new ideas.

They can make great team players and be extremely creative students who are artistically gifted and have an intuitive sense of spatial organization.

That's because visual thinking and spatial reasoning are both associated with right-brain thinking.

Tips for adult learners

9 Tips for adult learners

Adult learners approach education in a very different way than younger students. Many will be studying part-time as they continue to work and support their families. They tend to know more about their individual strengths and weaknesses as students, have set attitudes toward school, and be more intrinsically motivated.

An adult can bring real world experience into the classroom, which often enriches lessons. Older learners may also carry negative emotions, including reservations about entering college later in life and some fear and anxiety about being students again. However, with the right approach to study, every learner, no matter what their age or situation, can reach their full potential in the classroom.

Touch typing for dyslexics

Touch typing for dyslexics

For a significant number of children and adults, developing strong literacy skills requires overcoming the challenges posed by specific learning differences, such as dyslexia. Dyslexia impacts on reading, writing and spelling abilities but can also cause individuals to suffer from low self-esteem and lack confidence in the classroom.

While it is something people have for life, technology and strategy use can make language-based activities easier. For example, typing on a computer gives children and adults access to spell-checkers and helpful text-to-speech tools.

Mnemonic devices aid with learning the spelling of hard words. Memorizing high frequency vocabulary reduces the cognitive load involved in reading. Additionally, dyslexics who have had training in touch typing can reinforce phonics knowledge, use muscle memory to learn word spellings, and facilitate the translation of ideas into written language.

This renders the writing process less frustrating and makes composing written work more fluid and effective.

volunteering to teach adults to read

Volunteering to teach adults to read

Not everyone becomes a strong reader during childhood. Poor literacy skills can be the result of a dysfunctional home situation, a physical impairment or an undiagnosed learning difficulty. 

Unfortunately, without functional literacy, it is difficult for adults to access further education, provide for their families and navigate daily life in an urban society. Lacking reading and spelling skills also cause embarrassment, shame and low self-esteem for affected individuals who may believe they are less intelligent than others and/or simply “not good” at reading and writing.

In many cases, all that’s needed is an intervention and a sustained programme of skills development. This might entail finding a tutor who is willing to volunteer on a regular basis and dedicate time to helping the adult regain their confidence and learn to read.

strategies for dysgraphia

9 Strategies for dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is a specific learning difficulty that impacts on writing skills. While no two individuals will experience the same set of symptoms, it is a brain-based disorder that can cause difficulty with forming letters, spacing words and even organizing text into complete sentences. Students with dysgraphia may struggle with taking notes in class, completing homework and long-term assignments, and performing well on traditional assessment measures.

For these individuals writing is often both difficult and painful, causing everything from cramping in the muscles of the hand to excessive sweating and high anxiety. Over time, this can lead to poor performance and falling behind in lessons due to an inability to take notes. It may also result in avoidance of school and extra-curricular activities that involve producing written work.

Fortunately, there are strategies and classroom accommodations for dysgraphia that can help, including allowing the use of audio-recorders and learning touch-typing so computers are used as an alternative to handwriting.

7 Tips for working with dyslexia

7 Tips for working with dyslexia

Dyslexia is one of the most common learning difficulties affecting both children and adults. While no two individuals struggle with the same set of symptoms, most people with dyslexia must work harder than their peers to develop literacy skills.

They may need more time to read and write, and experience high levels of frustration navigating numbers. For students, this can pose a significant challenge. However, the situation can be just as stressful for working adults who have the added pressure of performance goals and feeling confident and capable at work, especially in front of clients, co-workers and managers.