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What is Dyslexia?

It’s a superpower!

Dyslexics are known to be outside of the box, creative thinkers

The word 'dyslexia' comes from Greek words  dys  and lexis meaning 'difficulty with words'.

Generally, it is a difference in how the brain deals with language, and can affect reading, comprehending, writing and spelling. Brain imaging techniques also show that dyslexic people process information differently - and with more imagination...

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Thanks to keen intuition and strong social skills, dyslexics are usually the leaders of their pack and have a natural ability to influence others.

Here are a just a few famous Dyslexic people who have used their super power to succeed and inspire.

Richard Branson

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson said his childhood struggles with dyslexia led him to gain adaptive thinking skills that later in life have become major advantages. In speaking about his experiences and how they’ve shaped him, Branson said he wants the stigma around dyslexia to end, and for the next generations to learn how to turn their difficulties into opportunities to think outside the norm.

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver is a hugely successful British chef known for his inspiring cookbooks, passionate cooking shows, and a chain of successful restaurants. He was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age and left school at 16 with an A in Art and a C in Geology, but no other qualifications. 

Jamie went to catering college and started working in restaurants at an early age, he excelled in this area he rose quickly to head chef.

Keira Knightley

Did you know actress Keira Knightley originally got into acting because of her learning disability?

Diagnosed with dyslexia at age six, Knightley struggled with reading in school. According to Knightley, she struck a deal with her parents where if she was able to learn to read, they would hire an agent for her so she could become a professional actor. So, over the summer holiday, she took the challenge and used the screenplay of Emma Thompson’s adaptation of Sense and Sensibility as her reading tool.

She has since gone on to star in films such as Pride and Prejudice and the Pirates of the Caribbean films. She maintains that her dyslexia hasn’t affected her ability to learn her lines.

Walt Disney

An American icon who built the Disney Empire with his brother and is responsible for the growth of animation production. The popular Disney Land Parks have since been developed globally.

Albert Einstein

One of the most influential physicists in history who developed the laws of relativity and shaped the ways we think of the world today.

Einstein excelled in visual imagination and spacial reasoning.  He attributed his conception of his special theory of relativity to a thought experiment in which he envisioned himself riding on a streetcar travelling at the speed of light.

Einstein also frequently described his thought process as being nonverbal.

Theo Paphitis

Known for his entrepreneurial skills and his appearances on the TV series ‘Dragons Den’. In 2014, Paphitis was reported to have an estimated net worth of £210 million. He has made the majority of his fortune in the retail sector and is the former Chairman of Millwall Football Club.

John Lennon

Thirty years after his death, we remember John Lennon as one of the most influential artists of all time. He has sold millions of albums. His music transcends generations. His ideas remain as inspiring and popular today as they were forty years ago. Like many dyslexic children he was extremely bright yet grossly underestimated. He couldn’t spell, even though he loved to read and write stories. He couldn’t memorise the lyrics to other people’s songs, but wrote amazingly creative ones himself.

Pablo Picasso

One of the most renowned artists of all time with his ability to paint unusual abstract art. Many believe it was his dyslexia that inspired his extraordinary painting ideas.


Dyslexic Thinking

Dyslexia affects the way the brain processes and remembers information - especially that which is seen and heard. This can have a knock-on effect in areas such as organisational skills, reading and writing, recalling instructions, telling left from right, and the acquisition of literacy skills. 


Research from Made By Dyslexia found 6 key skills for the workplace that

dyslexics tend to have:

  • Visualising

  • Imagining

  • Communicating

  • Exploring

  • Connecting

  • Reasoning


In 2009 Sir Jim Rose’s Report on 'Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties’ gave the following description of dyslexia, which was adopted by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) Management Board (2010).

Ripped Cardboard

The British Dyslexia Association also acknowledges the visual and auditory processing difficulties that some individuals with dyslexia can experience and points out that dyslexic readers can show a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process. Some dyslexics also have strengths in other areas, such as design, problem solving, creative skills, interactive skills and oral skills.


“Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skill involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed. Dyslexia occurs across a range of intellectual abilities. It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut off points. Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor coordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation but these themselves are not markers of dyslexia. A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well-founded intervention.” 

Rose 2009 

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Although dyslexia is ‘lifelong’, there are many strategies that can help to achieve your full potential. Specialist dyslexia intervention can make a huge difference. Diagnosing and then understanding dyslexia can help you or your child to develop strategies and improve confidence.

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