Lisbeth Verlaet, is a speech and language therapist from Ghent in Belgium. She very kindly provided a summary of Melody Terras' talk on the barriers and enablers to success for dyslexic adults at the BDA International Conference on Friday11th March 2016.
Melody Terras of the University of the West of Scotland gave an overview of research and practice relating to Dyslexia in adulthood. According to research dyslexia impacts negatively upon self-esteem, socio-emotional well-being, relationships, education and career choice. Positive experiences concerning the identification of their dyslexia, successful intervention and support were found.
In her research dyslexic adults indicated how the condition has had an impact on their confidence and self-esteem: “ I just feel as if everyone else is better. I am just sitting in the shadows.” They suffer from stigma and concealment: “ I thought that I was a stupid person. To this day I am fearful of telling my family that I’m dyslexic and this is a huge frustration for me.” Reading was the worst bit for them on school: “When reading in school I would be terrified at the prospect of being asked to read out loud.” It was common for the research subjects to build avoidance strategies such as going to the toilet at key moments at school.
Dyslexia is a permanent condition so can it be managed? Self-understanding is the first step and knowing that all dyslexics experience different signs of dyslexia. A dyslexic student needs support with developing strategies that are task focused, emotionally satisfying and reduces the need to avoid interaction. Developing these strategies feel risky and are often hindered by unhealthy self-protective strategies. Resilience - a dynamic process encompassing positive adaptation within the context of adversity- is one of them. Some internal and external factors may help or hinder the process of coping and adaptation.
Developing these strategies within a supportive environment is crucial to success. Dyslexia can put relationships under pressure when it is not understood. The more people become aware of dyslexia the more understanding people will be and this will be a significant factor in helping a dyslexic learner be successful.