ADULT DYSLEXIA: MYTHS,
REALITIES AND SUCCESS
The late Professor Leith described dyslexia as the unidentified flying object of modern psychology: until recently, it was an unidentified flying object that was only ever sighted in schools. However, in the last 10–15 years, there have been many sightings in workplaces. Like unidentified flying objects, dyslexia is surrounded by confusion, uncertainty and fear. Many people believe that dyslexia is only weakness and lack of ability, but such beliefs are unfounded; they are myths that have evolved as myths always do when a phenomenon is not well defined. In this opening chapter, as well as examining some of the more persistent myths about dyslexia and discussing possible explanations of their origins, we shall examine why some dyslexics are successful and others, in spite of having considerable potential, are not.
Although this book is concerned with adult dyslexics, this chapter examines how child dyslexics are treated in school and in particular how the education system fails them, and the implications that this failure has for their adulthood. The importance of distinguishing child dyslexia from adult dyslexia is discussed and illustrated, and the appropriateness of different types of training for adult dyslexics is examined. The chapter concludes by looking briefly at what some researchers believe is the key determinant of occupational success for adult dyslexics.
There has been such an acceleration of interest in dyslexia over the last 15 years that the word 'dyslexia', which was once a specialist medical term, is now a part of everyday language. However, although the word is well known, dyslexia is not well understood. Most experts, including Miles (2001), agree that the condition has a physical basis, and that in some cases its manifestations have a genetic basis. However, this is far from being an explanation of this complex condition; for example, Frith (1997: p. 17) has observed that 'There may be many different kinds of genes and different kinds of brain conditions interacting with environmental influences that are ultimately responsible for dyslexia.'