What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia affects up to 20% of people

People with dyslexia tend to use a picture, visual or kinaesthetic approach to learning. They perceive life as a motion picture (movie), as opposed to the typical symbol-based approach to learning found in most schools and workplaces.

If you consider alphabet letters and maths digits are non-picture symbols, without proper connection to the visual world, they don’t make sense to the dyslexic brain. For example the word ‘horse’ has a natural image associated with it, so is easy to visualise. The word ‘thing’, being a reference word, can’t be visualised and can cause confusion. ​

Picture words

Non-picture words

Related conditions

Up to 20% of people have some form of dyslexia, or a related condition such as dyscalculia (maths), dyspraxia (‘clumsy’) and ADD/ADHD (focus and attention). These are often labelled as ‘learning disabilities’. They are not disabilities, they are a far more complex style of learning, just different from what is considered the ‘norm’.

The dyslexic mind can process up to 500-1000 images a minute, resulting in verbal information being processed at incredible speed.

The 219 non-picture words in the English language can cause confusion and disorientation for picture thinkers, resulting in frustration, stress and anxiety for individuals.

‘Old Solution’ Learning Problem

A New Learning Approach…..

Dyslexia is a brain difference, whereby individuals perceive
2-dimensional symbols such as the alphabet, maths symbols, and
musical notes from a 3-dimensional picture-thinking perspective.

These symbols, viewed from a 3-D perspective, can cause confusions for the dyslexic individual, making reading, writing, spelling, and maths difficult skills to master.

From a dyslexic perspective

To get a sense of what it is like to read a sentence from a dyslexic perspective, try reading this:

A big, male rhino charged the white landrover as it raced away over the plain to safety.

The confusion starts for a picture or visual thinker where there is no picture for a word, such as ‘the’ or ‘safety’. As a dyslexic’s picture-thinking fails to work, their stress levels and confusion increase. They tend to concentrate harder, become more tense until their brain will no longer receive accurate messages.

Mathematics is about measuring change in an ordered and sequential fashion. However, people with dyscalculia often don’t have a solid grasp of the concepts of change, consequence, time, sequence, order, and disorder, so their ability to understand and use math concepts will be limited to memorization of facts, procedures, and formulae. In many cases, people with dyscalculia will also have dyslexia, and those who have dyslexia will often have difficulty with maths, even if it isn’t dyscalculia.

Dyscalculia affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds and has nothing to do with intelligence. People with high, average, and low IQs can struggle with dyscalculia, and it can impact day-to-day activities such as cooking, counting money, grocery shopping, and getting to places on time. As research into dyscalculia is still relatively limited, many people are living with dyscalculia under the assumption that they’re ‘stupid’ or just bad at maths. Many cases of dyscalculia aren’t discovered until the individual is well into adolescence or adulthood. At Master Dyslexia, I believe it’s important for people to recognize the signs of dyscalculia, so those struggling with the condition can seek dyscalculia treatment and support earlier in their education.

The resulting negative emotional reactions and increasing sense of frustration can lead to low self-esteem and the adoption of survival-based cover-up and coping solutions. Examples include day-dreaming, dependence on others,  acting out, class clown and becoming quiet. An example of the confusion and disorientation dyslexics can feel when looking at 2-D symbols is like when you jump off a merry-go-round – you have stopped spinning, but the world keeps on spinning for a while. Your brain is not receiving accurate information about what is happening to you and around you. This can result in you feeling confused, dizzy, nauseous, unbalanced, even ill. You have just experienced the feeling of dyslexia.

Dyslexics experience a high degree of embarrassment, humiliation, and shame over not being able to read, spell and write fluently.

Being caught out and exposed in school, at home, or in the workforce
is the dyslexic’s worst nightmare.

Why is Dyslexia a Gift?

People with Dyslexia are primarily multi-dimensional, visual-spatial thinkers. They have higher than average IQs, are highly creative, intuitive and excel at hands-on learning and activities.

There are many famous dyslexics, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Sir Richard Branson, Whoopi Goldberg, Pablo Picasso, Steven Speilberg, Henry Winkler, Jamie Oliver, Lee Kuan Yew, Cher and New Zealand’s own John Britten.

As dyslexics think in 3D pictures, accurately seeing and understanding 2D letters, numbers, symbols and written words can be difficult or confusing. Dyslexics can learn to read, write and study well when they are taught unique methods that maximise their unique learning style and talents.

Useful links and resources

Signs of Dyslexia


Take the Dyslexia Screening Assessment, provided by
Davis Dyslexia Association


Interested in finding out more?

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