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Dyslexia - coping with it

dyslexia; learning; difficulties; study; school; student; exams; specific;

Everyone has some talent or gift for doing something really well, but everyone has some things that they have to put a lot of work into in order to do them well! People with dyslexia have to work really hard listening, practising abd checking


If you have found out that you have dyslexia, it isn’t the end of the world - and at least you have a reason to explain why you might have had difficulties in learning.

You might like to read the topic Dyslexia - what is it? too.

How to help yourself

Everyone has some talent or gift for doing something really well, but everyone has some things that they have to put a lot of work into in order to do them well!

People with dyslexia have to work really hard on:

  • listening to what people say
  • listening to instructions
  • listening to themselves reading out loud or inside their heads
  • listening and making sure that they are getting the right sounds and the right messages
  • practising spelling and practising writing
  • checking their work very carefully when they think they have finished
  • using a spellchecker, or a dictionary.

All this means extra work, and even then the writing may still not look too neat!

Getting tired, getting exercise

  • All this extra concentrating means that study is likely to make you tired more quickly than some other students.
  • Talk with your parents and your teacher so that you still get some time for fun too!
  • Exercise is really important, and you might find that you are very good at some form of sport, which will help you feel better about yourself, and boost your self esteem.
  • However, many people with dyslexia find that they do not have great eye-hand coordination skills - they may find tennis or table tennis very difficult, but soccer or dancing are often not too hard. Don’t give up on sport and exercise. There are plenty of other sports that do not need great eye-hand coordination skills, such as bike riding, aerobics and rock climbing.

Exams, essays and projects

Students who have been tested by a psychologist and shown to have dyslexia are often able to negotiate extra support for exams, essays and projects.

  • They may be able to get extra time for reading, and for doing the exam or essay.
  • They may be able to do their work on a computer in the classroom, and to use a computer for exams.
  • For their final year 12 exams, students may need a special psychologist’s report to get this support, and it is a good idea to start working out what is needed before the end of year 11, or very early in year 12. This sort of support usually cannot be negotiated at the end of year 12.
  • When a student has time, and can use a computer, the final work will usually be assessed to the same standards that are used for other students. It will be expected that spelling errors will have been corrected before the work is handed up. (Work that has to be done by hand with no time for checking spelling may be graded more leniently.)

Make sure your spell checker is set to the language style for where you live - eg Australian English if you live in Australia.

Building your self esteem

Students with dyslexia and other learning difficulties soon realise they are not managing as easily as others.

  • They may think it is because they are not as clever or that they are 'lazy' even when they are working hard.
  • They need help to find ways to manage so they can feel good about themselves. Positive self esteem is most important for students with learning problems, as it helps them to be able to feel they can be successful and to keep trying.
  • If you have dyslexia, and have negative thoughts about yourself, you might like to look at our topic Self esteem and confidence  for some ideas about how to feel more positive about yourself, and your abilities. There will be things that you are good at, so don’t let dyslexia become the biggest thing in your life.

Did you know?

  1. Dyslexia is often inherited.
    Are there other people in your family who have struggled with learning? Perhaps they can give you some ideas that helped them to learn more easily. Perhaps they found that school was an unhappy place for them, and they started to feel a lot better about themselves after they left school. Now that so much more is known about dyslexia, school should be a happier place for you than it may have been 30 or more years ago.
  2. A few people with dyslexia find it easier to read if they have glasses with coloured lenses (perhaps pink or brown). It seems that using these lenses stops the feeling that the letters are moving all over the page. They do not work for everyone! If you want to see if they might help, make sure that you go to an optometrist who has special training in using coloured lenses.
  3. Students with dyslexia need to learn that they will make spelling mistakes even when they try very hard. They need to be ready to use a dictionary, spellchecker or computer all of the time.

Mel says:

"Lots of really famous people had dyslexia, including Albert Einstein, Tom Cruise, Thomas Edison and Keanu Reeves. Dyslexic people are not dumb -  they just learn differently. This web site has a list of many famous people who have the 'gift of dyslexia': http://www.dyslexia.com/famous.htm


South Australia

  • SPELD (Specific Learning Difficulties Association of South Australia)
    • includes newsletters, library, information about courses, parent and child support network, counselling
    • assessments are available but limited in number
    • Health Care Card holders may be able to get a cheaper rate.

Further reading

Better Health Channel

Kidshealth - Nemours Foundation

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor or other health professional.
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