5 Ways to Deal With Adult Dyslexia at Work

These tips on how to deal with adult dyslexia symptoms includes a Dyslexia Checklist and Symptoms of Adult Dyslexia. This easy-to-read summary will help you learn how to deal with adult dyslexia at work and in everyday life.

How to Deal With Adult Dyslexia Symptoms at WorkHave you tried turning your adult dyslexia symptoms into an advantage? In The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain, Brock L. Eide and Fernette F. Eide explain how 20% of people – individuals with dyslexia – share a unique learning style that can create advantages in a classroom, at a job, or at home. You’ll learn how to recognize and use the strengths of the dyslexic learning style in: material reasoning (used by architects and engineers); interconnected reasoning (scientists and designers), narrative reasoning (novelists and lawyers); and dynamic reasoning (economists and entrepreneurs.)

Learning how to deal with adult dyslexia symptoms at work isn’t just about coping or managing your “symptoms.” It’s about using your unique traits and abilities to thrive at work and in daily life! If you’re uncomfortable with who you are in your workplace, read articles like Best Jobs for Introverts and People Who Like to Be Alone. Being who you are – authenticity and honesty – takes practice and deliberate effort.

Many people are afraid to reveal or talk about their dyslexia to employers; they’re scared they’ll lose their jobs or be blamed if something goes wrong at work. In addition to feeling shame and embarrassment about their own dyslexia, parents of dyslexic children are often riddled with guilt for passing the disorder on to their offspring.

Here are five tips for dealing with symptoms of adult dyslexia at work. Then I share an informal “Test for Adult Dyslexia”, as well as an extensive list of adult dyslexia symptoms.

How to Deal With Adult Dyslexia at Work

No matter what dyslexia symptoms you face, you’ll find that ignorance is a huge hurdle. The more people know about adult dyslexia, the less stigma there is.

Can you talk about your learning disability with your colleagues? Do they know you have dyslexia? The more open and honest you are, the easier it’ll be in the long run.

1. Think about your own perceptions of adult dyslexia

We know the majority of North Americans view dyslexia in a negative light…but what about you? How do you see your own learning disability?

“School is hard, and kids are ruthless,” says Lisa Stelzner in Rochester native shares how she overcame Dyslexia. “You are called stupid and dumb, you take that on yourself…. inside, you are your own worst enemy.”

If you haven’t worked through your childhood experiences with dyslexia, you’ll have a more difficult time overcoming dyslexia as an adult.

2. Find the strategies for overcoming dyslexia that work for you

If you haven’t found the right strategies for overcoming your learning disability, keep connecting with tutors who specialize in adult dyslexia. And, Lisa Stelzner knows that the pain of a learning disability runs deep. She overcame dyslexia with the help of extensive tutoring; now, she works as an account manager at a communications company.

Are you having difficulty dealing with dyslexia at work because of the people you work with? Read 5 Types of Toxic Coworkers – From Bullies to Narcissists.

3. Join a group for adult professionals with dyslexia

How to Deal With Adult Dyslexia at Work

How to Deal With Adult Dyslexia Symptoms at Work

In her article about adults with dyslexia symptoms, Liz Attebery describes Kent Sinclair’s group for adult professionals with dyslexia. He is a partner in the Boston office of the national legal firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP, and he didn’t want to form a conventional support group for adults with dyslexia.

Instead, his group is a “network and affinity group,” a place for camaraderie and sharing strategies for navigating and overcoming adult dyslexia in the professional work environment.

4. Find common experiences

Many adults with dyslexia symptoms, especially if they’re older, live with their learning disability without knowing that there is a community of others who are just like them, who share many of their concerns, problems, joys, and challenges.

“For those people, attending a meeting is often the first time they come face to face with others their age who have dyslexia,” says Matthew Schneps, director of the Laboratory for Visual Learning at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (in Attebery’s article on how to deal with adult dyslexia symptoms at work). “It’s an eye-opening experience that feels a little bit like going to Thanksgiving dinner with family members you see only occasionally.  There is a wash of recognition, that all of us at the table are similar in some way, that we have behaviors and experiences in common, much like a family.”

5. Connect with successful professional adults who dealt with dyslexia at work

Rachel Moran wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until she was 18; she graduated from high school with a fourth-grade reading level. And yet, her reading-comprehension abilities well above college level.  “I have a very high IQ,” she says, “but I was never trained as I should have been.”

Rachel is now a licensed electrical engineer and the owner of an engineering company specializing in railroad signaling. Her son has dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. She attends meetings for adults overcoming dyslexia symptoms because it helps her stay current with the latest research about dyslexia and allows her to connect with other professionals.

“It helps you be aware that you’re not alone,” she says.  “Everyone has their challenges, but sometimes you feel like you’re the only one dealing with a problem, and to find someone who has dealt with that problem makes your task a little easier.”

If you want to avoid learning how to deal with dyslexia at work, read How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Business.

A Test for Adult Dyslexia

The questions in the Adult Dyslexia Checklist below are all related to different areas of dyslexia. Read the questions carefully and be as honest as you can when answering them.

Please answer Yes or No to each question. When you’re in doubt, give the response that you feel is true most often.

  1. Do you dislike reading aloud?
  2. Do you find it difficult to remember the sense of what you have read?
  3. Do you dislike reading long books?
  4. Do you find it difficult to do sums in your head without using your fingers or paper?
  5. Is your writing difficult to read?
  6. Do you get confused if you have to speak in public?
  7. Do you find it difficult to say the months of the year backwards?
  8. When you say a long word, do you sometimes find it difficult to get all the sounds in the right order?
  9. Do you have difficulty telling left from right?
  10. Do you take longer than you should to read a page of a book?
  11. Did you find it hard to learn your multiplication tables at school?
  12. Do you find it difficult to say the months of the year forwards in a fluent manner?
  13. Do you mix up bus numbers like 95 and 59?
  14. Do you find it difficult to take messages on the telephone and pass them on correctly?
  15. Do you find forms difficult and confusing?
  16. Do you mix up dates and times and miss appointments?
  17. Is your spelling poor?
  18. When using the telephone, do you tend to get the numbers mixed up when you dial?
  19. When writing cheques do you frequently find yourself making mistakes?

A number of the questions are taken and adapted from a checklist devised by Michael Vinegrad: A revised Dyslexia Checklist. Educare, No 48 March 1994.

Symptoms of Dyslexia in Adults

Here’s a more comprehensive, categorized list of adult dyslexia symptoms. I know it’s a lot to read (and sort of ironic that one of my longest blog posts is for adults with dyslexia!), but the more information you have about the symptoms of dyslexia, the better able you’ll be to deal with adult dyslexia at work.


  • Distinguishing between words that look or sound alike.
  • Understanding non-literal language such as jokes and idioms.
  • Picking up on non-verbal cues; participating properly in conversation.
  • Understanding directions/instructions.
  • Avoiding “slips of the tongue” (e.g., “a rolling stone gathers no moths”).
  • Summarizing the main ideas in a story, article, or book.
  • Expressing ideas clearly, in a logical way and not getting bogged down in details.
  • Learning a foreign language.
  • Memorization.


  • Reading at a good pace and at an expected level.
  • Reading aloud with fluency and accuracy.
  • Keeping place while reading.
  • Using “word analysis” (rather than guessing) to figure out unfamiliar words.
  • Recognizing printed words.
  • Finding enjoyment and being self-confident while reading.


  • Spelling words correctly and consistently.
  • Using proper grammar.
  • Proofreading and self-correcting work.
  • Preparing outlines and organizing written assignments.
  • Fully developing ideas in writing.
  • Expressing ideas in a logical, organized way.


  • Picking up on other people’s moods and feelings.
  • Understanding and responding appropriately to teasing.
  • Making and keeping friends.
  • Setting realistic goals for social relationships.
  • Dealing with group pressure and embarrassment, and unexpected challenges.
  • Having a realistic sense of social strengths and weaknesses.
  • Feeling motivated and confident in learning abilities at school and at work.
  • Understanding why success is more easily achieved in some areas compared with others.

 Other symptoms of adult dyslexia

  • Organizing and managing time.
  • Navigating space and direction (e.g., telling left from right).
  • Accurately judging speed and distance (e.g., when driving).
  • Reading charts and maps.
  • Performing consistently from day to day.
  • Applying skills learned in one situation to another.

This list of symptoms and signs of adult dyslexia are from Common Warning Signs of Dyslexia in College Students and Adults.

If several of these warning signs and symptoms of adult dyslexia apply to you, don’t hesitate to seek help from qualified professionals. If the outcome of an evaluation determines that you have dyslexia or some other type of learning disability, rest assured that with proper support you’ll be better able to overcome adult dyslexia to succeed in school, at work, and in life.

I welcome your thoughts on how to deal with adult dyslexia. How do you cope, and what advice would you offer others?


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2 thoughts on “5 Ways to Deal With Adult Dyslexia at Work”

  1. Thanks for your thoughts, John!

    The International Dyslexia Association has a great Self-Assessment Tool, created by Fran Levin Bowman, M.Ed. and Vincent Culotta, Ph.D.

    Here’s a summary of what they say about adult dyslexia:

    Dyslexia affects 1 in 10 people, many of whom remain undiagnosed and receive little or no intervention services. If you have dyslexia but it’s undiagnosed, it’s called a “hidden disability” – and it can result in underemployment, difficulty navigating academic environments, problems at work, and decreased self-confidence. Even people who have been diagnosed with dyslexia are likely to struggle with reading or writing in some aspects of their lives.

    Dyslexia is a specific reading disorder and does not reflect low intelligence. There are many bright and creative individuals with dyslexia who never learn to read, write, and/or spell at a level consistent with their intellectual ability.

    To see the Dyslexia Self-Assessment Tool, go to

    It’s a brief 10 question self-assessment tool, and it’ll help you see the signs of dyslexia more clearly.

  2. I like that you said that there are specific symptoms that dyslexic people show. When I found out that my daughter was dyslexic I wasn’t super surprised because she was showing a few signs. Professionals might be able to help some with dyslexia get through it.