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Asia Pacific Journal of Developmental Differences

Vol. 2, No. 2, July 2015, pp 202- 233

DOI: 10.3850/S2345734115000290


This paper reports on a qualitative/quantitative adult dyslexic study of 22 dyslexics

who presently or have in the past suffered from a depressive disorder, and 7 control

dyslexic adults. It compares depressive to non‐depressive dyslexics, with gender and

academic success variables. Interpretive Phenomenology Analysis was used to

investigate dyslexia and stigma.

Many perceived dyslexia as positive and gave them unique skills, but made them

feel different. This difference was perceived to come from having to work harder

than their non‐dyslexic peers to achieve in life, as dyslexia affected many aspects of

their daily life. Interestingly most would not seek a cure if it was offered ‐ suggesting

they perceived their dyslexia to be integral to whom they were, and losing their

dyslexia would be as great as losing a limb.

Evidence suggested that dyslexics experience discrimination due to their disability,

whether they perceive it as a disability or not. They felt there was a lack of public

domain information on dyslexia and its effects, as many of their peers perceived it

being negative. Recent legislation in the US and the UK aims to protect dyslexics in

the workplace, however to gain protection they need to disclose their hidden

disability to the world, making them vulnerable.

Many dyslexics have survived the last twenty, thirty or more years in the workplace

and school without their difficulties being highlighted, one participant noted that

they had felt successful in hiding for so long, with many feeling unhappy about

disclosing their difficulties as they may fear this would firstly go on their record and

secondly it might have a negative effect on promotion and career prospects.

Many felt dyslexia was a disability when they were children, as school was

seen as an inflexible environment with no escape from reading and writing,

along with unfair comparison with age appropriate peers ’ only disabled by my

dyslexia when you put me into a classroom’(Natasha). It was felt as an adult there

was more flexibility to choose professions that play to a dyslexic’ strength and use

supportive technology (e.g. computers and spell-checkers). However, a minority

withdrew from a society when they felt ill -equipped to function effectively within it.

Stigma due to dyslexia was highlighted as many camouflaged their difficulties at

work, attributing their difficulties to quirkiness (positive) rather than being disabled

(negative). Implications for the Asia Pacific area are discussed.


The Dyslexia Experience: Difference, Disclosure, Labelling, Discrimination and Stigma