Here Are Signs You May Have Adult Dyslexia (and What to Do About It)

Most people with dyslexia are diagnosed in childhood, but the disorder can go unnoticed and untreated into adulthood, which can lead to a different set of symptoms and problems. There is more to dyslexia than the common assumption that it simply causes people to mirror or reverse letters in their brains. Numerous other symptoms affect memory, attention, speech, and organization—and as a result make diagnosis difficult, as adults with these symptoms may never realize they may have dyslexia at all.

The longer the disorder goes undiagnosed and untreated, the longer adults with dyslexia struggle with symptoms for no reason. Here are some signs that you may have dyslexia and what you can do about it.

What is dyslexia?

Most people are probably somewhat familiar with the basics of what dyslexia is, thanks to TV and movies where the disorder occurs in characters from ” Beverly Hills 90210 ” to Grey’s Anatomy . As with everything, there is some truth to the entertainment and media descriptions of dyslexia, but there is more to this disorder.

“By definition, dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in learning to read and write words. This is unexpected because other areas of learning and even other areas of reading (eg, inferring, understanding metaphors) can be good or even advanced,” said Dr. Rebecca Wisehart, assistant professor and assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at St. John’s. University. “It’s called a neurodevelopmental disorder because people with dyslexia are born with cortical differences that make learning to read and spell especially difficult.”

How are dyslexia diagnoses in adults different from those in children?

Estimates of the dyslexic population vary widely from 5% to 20%. Part of this discrepancy comes from how obscure psychologists’ diagnoses of adult dyslexia really are . The basic model for diagnosing dyslexia is designed and based on children, which can cause problems and confusion for adults who may unconsciously struggle. While reading and spelling difficulties may be a more obvious symptom in dyslexic children, it is more difficult to diagnose adults who have found ways to compensate for their shortcomings over the years.

Those who suspect they may have dyslexia, according to Wisehart, “may have to look back at their school history for some of the early classic signs of dyslexia, such as slow or laborious reading or unexpectedly poor spelling. Associated problems with math (especially with remembering times tables) or handwriting are also common.

She added that other signs of dyslexia were present all along, including trouble learning a second language, constant typing, or a lack of interest in reading for pleasure. What’s more, according to Wisehart, dyslexia is genetic, meaning that many adults only realize they have the disorder when their children are diagnosed.

What symptoms of dyslexia should adults look out for?

While it is well known that dyslexia affects reading ability, the most common symptom is actually related to speech . Phonological decoding refers to the ability to decode words and apply this to speech. Simply put, phonological decoding is the correct pronunciation of words. This process, although unconscious and automatic, is disrupted in dyslexia. Research shows that people with dyslexia have reduced activity in certain parts of the brain, the two most notable of which are the parietal lobe, which is involved in description and understanding, and the occipital lobe, which is more associated with the ability to see and understand. reading fluently. However, these are not the only areas of the brain that can be affected or, in turn, cause characteristic symptoms. Further research suggests that people with dyslexia do not have a distorted understanding of the formation of speech sounds, but rather may have problems with the neural connections that help us pick up and produce sounds.

All this suggests that dyslexia can affect a person in different ways. If you are an adult and think you may have this disorder, you should look out for the following noticeable symptoms and consider asking a licensed professional about it:

  • You confuse visually similar words (remember tag and lag)
  • You are reading something “correctly” to yourself, but pronouncing it out loud incorrectly
  • You find it difficult to concentrate
  • You find it hard to scroll through the words
  • You find it difficult to put your thoughts on paper
  • You need to reread paragraphs frequently to understand them.
  • You make misspellings
  • You confuse left and right or have trouble with spatial thinking (for example, reading a map)
  • You have trouble remembering and finding the words you need to express yourself.

What happens after an adult is diagnosed with dyslexia?

If you’ve been diagnosed with dyslexia, there may be some relief, as with any diagnosis. You finally have an answer to why you’re experiencing symptoms, and that’s great. Mystery solved. Unfortunately, this relief is also accompanied by a new kind of anxiety: what are you doing now?

Here is some good news. Dyslexia, though incurable, is manageable. Dr. Tiffany Hogan, a professor at MGH’s Institute of Health Professionals , told Lifehacker: “Adults with dyslexia often need to give themselves extra time to read. Remember that listening to books on tape is still reading and may be more enjoyable for some adults with dyslexia. They will also want to check their spelling because your brain may not “see” spelling errors. Adults with dyslexia may worry about their reading difficulties.”

Many dyslexic adults will find other ways to cope, such as drawing pictures or using tables and charts to help remember information.

In a professional or academic environment, plan for extra time and stay as organized as possible. When you’re already struggling with a learning disability, stress can be especially detrimental and overwhelming. Identify your unique symptoms and then develop specialized and effective coping strategies for them.

There are also several different services for adults to get support and develop effective skills. Many of these services are also covered by health insurance, Hogan said. In addition, employers are required by law to provide housing for dyslexic workers. They may need a formal diagnosis, so if you think you may have dyslexia and need accommodations, see a professional as soon as possible. It can be difficult to find a licensed professional who can offer treatment for dyslexia, but there are a number of directories that filter by state, so start with the International Dyslexia Association and the Center for Effective Reading Education .

Finally, don’t be afraid to seek a diagnosis. In addition to the fact that your employer or institution will have to adjust to your disorder, you deserve the peace of mind knowing what is causing your symptoms and the opportunity to address your concerns. Struggling without a known cause can be frustrating, so a diagnosis will ease the burden of not understanding one’s own behavior or inability. Just remember that you are not alone in this – and check out some online communities to find out about others who have been diagnosed.


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