Adult dyslexia undiagnosed in Western Australia

March 30, 2011

Adults with undiagnosed dyslexia can face serious social problems because of literacy difficulties, a new Murdoch University study has found.

Murdoch University Researcher Kathleen Tanner surveyed 150 participants from ages 18 to 80 about their experiences with dyslexia. Dr Tanner tracked their progress while working with them while they studied a Certificate I in Foundation Skills for Adults with Dyslexia at TAFE.

She found most participants had negative experiences at school and work that related to their literacy prior to the TAFE course. Four of the participants in the study had no idea they had dyslexia until they were adults.

“So many people have gone through the education system without acknowledgement of this condition,” she said.

“We live in a society that says if you have good literacy you’re competent but if you don’t then you’re worthless. All the people I interviewed felt that they were dumb because that’s how they’d been made to feel even if they were successful in many other ways.”

Dr Tanner said while there was some education out there for adults with dyslexia, such as the Certificate I in Foundation Skills for Adults with Dyslexia, more understanding was needed among teachers.

“We need to realise that dyslexia must be acknowledged in all educational paradigms and if that happens then teachers will recognise characteristics of dyslexia and this will encourage more dialogue about it.”

Dr Tanner said she found a major shift in the quality of lives of many who participated in her study.

“Prior to the TAFE course many were extremely unhappy with their lives. Some even spoke of ending their lives. We helped them understand the great things they were capable of.”

One of the participants, Shahna Macrae, said the involvement in the study changed her life for the better.

“Kath gave us the confidence to believe in ourselves. I’m reading books and attending courses that I would have never have dreamed of before.”

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Comments (2 responses)

Carole Lynch April 11, 2011

My son, who suffers from dyslexia, was badly treated by his teachers in the 70's and has always suffered from a feeling of inferiority. I am very glad that research is being undertaken to treat this common condition and hope that the new generations of teachers take this information on board.

Andy March 27, 2012

Hello my name is andy, first of all am not an ozy resident am from the uk, but I have been looking up my condition on the Internet, I'm 29 years and have been struggling with what I thought was social phobia but looking into why I have this phobia is I don't join in conversations because I don't know or can't remember general chit chat about any sports or music I love music I create melodies on the paino which can be complex, I struggle with simple spelling even tho I can read well I can't do math I can't read out loud to others unless I've read tho it before my memory is shockingly bad which is fustrighting if I get invited out which is rare I can't add anything to the conversation with little stupied jokes I just sit there I've become some one who's there lights are on but nobody's home I have lost who I was its been 6 years now since I've had a proper friend and more for a girl friend, I take my aggression out at the gym And travel a lot in the last two years to nz and here now, I am a air conditioning engineer in the uk, but I've been doing the easy side of cleaning and servicing because I can't get my head around some of the systems, I just can't grasp it all I want is a job that I know what am doing then go home. Not to be stressing out why or how. I think I may have dyslexia but not sure

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