What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference which is reported to affect 10% of the population. It is genetic and a lifelong condition, occurring across the intellectual spectrum and varying in severity. In addition, dyslexia often overlaps or co-occurs with other specific learning differences.

Dyslexia is neurological in origin and can influence the way in which verbal and visual information is processed. It is typically associated with, but not limited to difficulties in reading, writing and spelling. Consequently, dyslexia can have a considerable effect on performance in education and in the workplace. It may also present challenges in everyday life. 

Since dyslexia manifests differently in individuals, all dyslexic people will have their own personal strengths and weaknesses. However, some common characteristics of dyslexia are listed below:

  • Inaccuracy and inconsistency in spelling
  • Confusion of visually and auditorily similar words (e.g. qualitative and quantitative)
  • Slow and effortful reading and writing
  • Challenges with skimming and scanning text
  • Skipping lines or losing place when reading
  • Having to re-read written text to extract meaning
  • Challenges retaining and remembering orally presented information
  • Mispronouncing words
  • Difficulties with retrieving the ‘right words’
  • Challenges with written expression
  • Problems with organising thoughts and ideas in both written and verbal formats
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Difficulty with summaries
  • Difficulty with summaries
  • Difficulties with focus – especially if there are distractions around
  • Experiencing excessive daydreaming and feelings of ‘switching off’
  • Challenges with multi-tasking
  • Confusion with left and right
  • Problems with personal organisation, such as time management, prioritising tasks and remembering important dates and deadlines.
  • Avoiding certain study or work-related tasks
  • Low self-esteem

Dyslexic musicians may also experience some of the following:

  • Problems with reading and sight-reading music
  • Tendency to confuse visually similar information (such as B and D or A and C on the stave)
  • Difficulties with pattern recognition
  • Involuntary reversal of notes, patterns and bars
  • Difficulty navigating music (knowing where to move to, especially at speed)
  • Difficulties with reading handwritten music
  • Problems recognising clef changes
  • Difficulty remembering key signatures
  • Difficulties with memorization – music/chord changes/scales
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  • Difficulty learning musical terminology
  • Difficulty remembering instructions in lessons, rehearsals and aural work
  • Loss of place/count when playing
  • Challenges with developing a sense of pulse
  • Difficulties with rhythmic accuracy
  • Challenges with aural tasks, such as dictation
  • Difficulties with personal practice
  • Inconsistent performance

It is also imperative to acknowledge the strengths that many dyslexic individuals can exhibit. Dyslexic people may demonstrate:

  • Holistic thinking abilities
  • Good problem-solving abilities
  • 3D thinking abilities
  • Episodic memory skills
  • Creativity
  • High levels of empathy
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