MORE Adult Dyslexia Details: Reading, Math and ADHD

“If anyone ever puts you down for having dyslexia, don’t believe them. Being dyslexic can actually be a big advantage, and it has certainly helped me.”
-Richard Branson, Virgin CEO


I recently posted the blog Adult Dyslexia and How It Affects Multiple Parts of Your Life -Both at Home and Work and in that I talk about why being an adult with dyslexia looks different than in kids and why it is so important to learn about your brain and all the ways it is working for and against you.

What I didn’t talk about was other important issues that can get in the way of success as an adult if not identified.

Once you understand the History of Literacy and the History of Dyslexia you can understand why this wasn’t caught while you were in school and why there are so many opportunities to engage in different learning methods not yet created or implemented.

Here are some other parts of adult dyslexia that should be talked about.

Reading and Writing
I will not forget to mention that there are many dyslexics who get through school and even college and are never diagnosed. To do that, they have a very high IQ and learn to game the system.  The problem is that it often catches up with them and the years of trying to cover this up, struggle to read and the anxiety this adds to life can cause real breakdowns both physically and mentally. This is when they seek a counselor or doctor who notices the signs and says “You might be dyslexic.”

Steven Spielberg shared five years ago that as an adult he was diagnosed with dyslexia.  He said “It was like all of the little puzzle pieces finally came together and it all made sense.”

I know for me I was diagnosed by age seven and in special classes throughout elementary school. My parents didn’t want me to feel labeled so after my original diagnosis at seven, we never talked about me being dyslexic.  And if you have read my History of Literacy blog and the History of Dyslexia blog you know that due to my age, there wasn’t much to tell me about being dyslexic because society didn’t know hardly anything. They just knew that my brain was making it hard for me to spell and read. By seventh grade I forced them to let me fail because I was so exhausted from all of the extra classes. I just wanted to be normal.  As I failed in middle school and high school, without a label and understanding of all the parts of dyslexia, I made up my own label.  Dumb, stupid, useless and lazy.  What else could it be? I could read and I failed just about every class except choir. I had the proof, I was stupid.  It was only in my mid-twenties when I went back to college, that my mom reminded me to point out that I was dyslexic and then I started to look into what that meant and realized I had the wrong label.  I wasn’t stupid, I was a different learner.  Graduating with a 4.0 helped to place a fact behind that belief that I wasn’t stupid.

I share these stories because it is important for us to know who we are in the world.  Why do we do the things we do or don’t do? Your minds seek out these answers and until we find them, our brains are so smart, that they fill in the gap and make stuff up. Stuff that might not be true, but without facts to support another theory, it is what the brain does.

One key thing we never want to overlook, is that many people are diagnosed as adults with dyslexia.  When that happens there are a whole lot of feelings that flow from that.  People will re-examine many past experiences with a whole new perspective, and it is not always a happy one. The unpacking of this emotionally and mentally is best done with a counselor and a coach.

Thinking you could be dyslexic or think you might know someone you who might be?

Here are two on-lines tests worth considering. These are just to get you thinking.

If you score well on this test then you need to reach out to your doctor and get a referral to a trained professional who can do the thorough testing process. You want to take the deep dive. When they gather more intel that is how you find all of the chasers, your IQ and your processing speed, just to name a few of the amazing results you can learn about yourself. 

Once diagnosed, adults with dyslexia can benefit from accommodations in school, the workplace, and at home. This helps them to get into their superpowers (strengths) and learn to hire or delegate out the rest (weaknesses).

It is never too late to have spelling and reading support and there are programs and people just for adults.

Mental Health
It is beyond common for dyslexics to have multiple mental health diagnoses.  The most common are:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Most people don’t know enough about these two topics to write two sentences and that is way under what you need to know about these two. 

Like having dyslexia wasn’t a challenge enough, this is like adding gas to the fire. It makes all neuro differences twice as bad and most people don’t even know that is what is happening.  The suicide and incarceration rates are far above the neuro normal.

Understanding your mental health ism’s and learning how they play with your neurology is life saving and important.  Don’t be afraid to explore this topic, be afraid NOT to explore.

Here are a couple of really good resources that focus just on that.  I will be writing some blogs about this in the future so you might want to do a search of my blogs.

Visual ideas for dealing with it in the moment

Dyslexia and ADHD
It has been found that many times a person who is dyslexic has other comorbid learning differences. About 50 to 60 percent of people with ADHD also have a learning disability. It is not uncommon for ADHD and dyslexia to both be present in a person. If you know anything about ADHD in adults, it is hardest to diagnose in women, as it presents so differently than in men. It also can make the dyslexic brain even more challenging and staying focused becomes an issue.

“Both ADHD and dyslexia have several symptoms in common, such as information-processing speed challenges, working memory deficits, naming speed, and motor skills deficits. So, it is easy for a parent or a professional to mistake dyslexic symptoms for ADHD.”  From Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D.  Attitude magazine

Remember there are medications to assist with ADHD, there are no medications to aid with dyslexia. Not everyone wants to explore medications and I support that and encourage people to balance that with their desire to not do something life threatening. 

Math and Dyslexia
There is another form of dyslexia called dyscalculia (math dyslexia) it makes math problems confusing and daily interactions with numbers a pain in the butt.  It also like to cross over into time management, spatial recognition, and motor function.

Here is a link to a quick assessment. Start with this and then talk with a professional to learn more and get a complete assessment.

Kids with Dyslexia
I don’t want to forget about this. If you have dyslexia or the parent of your child has it, it is more than likely that your child has some form of it.  Here is a link to an easy symptoms test.

What this blog needs is a story.  So here we go, one of my college student clients was trying to write papers and not being successful.  Her ADHD and dyslexia were fighting each other, and she was totally losing.  She was avoiding her ADHD meds, not sleeping well, eating crap food and, well, being a college student.  You can see how this snowball into a bigger problem.  Thank goodness she was not doing recreational drugs, that really would have made this bad.  First, we had to embrace her brain, right where it was at.  She had to get comfortable with her ADHD label and what that meant for her life.  Once she did that, it was easier for her to take her meds, which then caused her to get more sleep. Then we looked at ways for her to team up with someone in class or with a tutor to hold her accountable for her papers.  We had to make sure that appointments were scheduled weekly with people and that they knew they could call or text her if she was a minute late, because more than likely she had forgotten. It took years to get the system in place, because the classes in college change every three to four months. That took a while, like a couple of years, and once we had that in place, the grades started to go up and up.  It wasn’t fast, but so what.  It wasn’t easy, but so what.  It was well worth it and she carries these planning and life skills into adulthood. She has since graduated and is doing great at her job, and it is because she knows her dyslexia and the strengths and weaknesses.  

Being dyslexic myself and now a coach, gives me a unique perspective on the process of growing up and embracing your neuro different brain.  Being an adult with a difference gets a whole lot easier once you can stop hiding in and start embracing it.

Thanks for reading my article and I hope you find more information to help your quest for answers in my other literature. 


JoyGenea Schumer
Business Owner, International Neurodiversity Coach and Speaker

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