Dyslexia, a neurological difference affecting language processing, significantly impacts an individual’s writing abilities. This article explores the distinctive features of dyslexic writing, providing insights into how dyslexia manifests in written expression.

We’ll examine common characteristics, discuss methods for identifying dyslexia through writing, and offer practical strategies for those writing with dyslexia.

By understanding these aspects, educators, parents, and individuals with dyslexia can better navigate the challenges and implement effective support systems. Our goal is to demystify dyslexic writing, emphasizing that with appropriate techniques and support, individuals with dyslexia can effectively communicate their ideas in writing.

Understanding dyslexia

Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder that primarily affects a person’s reading and writing ability. It’s important to note that dyslexia is unrelated to intelligence or lack of educational opportunities. Rather, it’s a neurological condition that impacts how the brain processes language.

People with dyslexia often struggle with recognizing and manipulating the sounds in words, which can lead to difficulties in reading, spelling, and writing. These challenges can persist despite traditional teaching methods and adequate intelligence.

Key aspects of dyslexia include:

  1. Phonological processing difficulties: Trouble identifying and manipulating individual sounds in words.
  2. Decoding problems: Difficulty in connecting letters to their corresponding sounds.
  3. Slow reading speed: Reading may be laborious and time-consuming.
  4. Poor spelling: Consistent misspellings, even with common words.
  5. Writing challenges: Difficulty expressing thoughts in writing, with issues in grammar, punctuation, and organization.

Examples of dyslexia writing

Writing samples from individuals with dyslexia can provide valuable insights into their specific challenges. 

Here are some common examples of dyslexic writing:

1. Letter Reversals and Inversions:

Example: “The bog ran fast” instead of “The dog ran fast”

People with dyslexia may confuse visually similar letters, especially those that are mirror images of each other, like ‘b’ and ‘d’. This stems from difficulties in visual processing and spatial awareness.

2. Phonetic Spelling:

Example: “Wensday” for “Wednesday” or “fone” for “phone”

This reflects the tendency to spell words as they sound, rather than remembering their correct spelling. It’s a common strategy used by individuals with dyslexia to cope with spelling challenges, relying on their phonological awareness.

3. Omission of Letters:

Example: “remeber” instead of “remember”

Some letters, especially in the middle of words, may be left out due to difficulties in sequencing sounds. This can also be attributed to challenges in short-term memory, making it hard to hold all the letters of a word in mind while writing.

4. Addition of Extra Letters:

Example: “comming” for “coming”

This can occur when the writer overcompensates for known spelling difficulties. It often happens with words that have double letters, as the writer may be unsure about where the doubling occurs.

5. Word Order Confusion:

Example: “The cat black sat on the mat” instead of “The black cat sat on the mat”

This reflects challenges with syntax and sentence structure. Individuals with dyslexia may struggle to organize words in the correct order, particularly when dealing with adjectives and more complex sentence constructions.

6. Homophones Mix-ups:

Example: “Their going to the park” instead of “They’re going to the park”

Words that sound the same but are spelled differently can be particularly challenging. This confusion arises from the reliance on phonological processing and difficulties in remembering the correct spelling for each context. 

7. Inconsistent Capitalization:

Example: “i Went To the Store yesterday”

Remembering capitalization rules can be difficult, leading to inconsistent use. This inconsistency often results from the cognitive load of focusing on spelling and content, leaving less attention for punctuation and capitalization rules.

8. Run-on Sentences:

Example: “I went to the store I bought milk I came home I made dinner”

Difficulty with punctuation and sentence structure can result in long, unbroken sentences. This can be due to challenges in understanding the natural pauses in speech and how they translate to written punctuation.

9. Unusual Spacing:

Example: “thehouseisb  ig” instead of “the house is big”

Challenges with visual processing can lead to inconsistent spacing between words. This may also be related to difficulties in recognizing word boundaries in written text.

Famous people with dyslexia

Many successful individuals across various fields have been diagnosed with or are believed to have had dyslexia. Their achievements demonstrate that dyslexia does not define a person’s potential for success. Here are some notable examples:

1. Albert Einstein – Renowned physicist

Einstein, known for his groundbreaking work in physics, reportedly struggled with reading in his early years. His innovative thinking and visual reasoning skills, often associated with dyslexia, contributed to his revolutionary scientific theories.

2. Steven Spielberg – Acclaimed film director

The Oscar-winning director wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until his 60s. Spielberg has spoken about how his learning difference influenced his storytelling abilities and visual creativity in filmmaking.

3. Richard Branson – Entrepreneur and business magnate

Founder of the Virgin Group, Branson has been open about his dyslexia. He credits his success partly to the unique problem-solving skills he developed to overcome his learning challenges.

5. Leonardo da Vinci – Renaissance polymath

While not formally diagnosed (as dyslexia wasn’t recognized in his time), many experts believe da Vinci had dyslexia based on his writing style. His mirror writing and exceptional visual-spatial skills are often cited as evidence.

6. Whoopi Goldberg – Actress and comedian

Goldberg has spoken about her dyslexia and how it affected her education. She emphasizes the importance of finding alternative ways to learn and express oneself.

7. Tom Cruise – Actor

Cruise has discussed his struggles with dyslexia and how he overcame them through perseverance and developing effective learning strategies.

8. Pablo Picasso – Artist

Picasso’s unique artistic style may have been influenced by his dyslexia. His abstract and non-linear approach to art could be linked to his different way of perceiving the world.

9. John Lennon – Musician

The Beatles’ songwriter reportedly struggled with reading and writing in school. His creative wordplay and innovative music suggest that his dyslexia may have contributed to his artistic genius.

10. Muhammad Ali – Boxing champion

One of the greatest boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali also struggled with dyslexia. But Ali’s dyslexia didn’t prevent him from becoming a world champion boxer and a powerful orator. His verbal creativity, often attributed to his dyslexia, made him a compelling public figure.

Difference between dysgraphia and dyslexia

Dyslexia and dysgraphia are distinct learning differences that affect written communication in different ways.

Dyslexia primarily impacts reading skills, involving challenges in phonological processing and decoding words, while dysgraphia mainly affects writing skills, involving difficulties with the physical act of writing and organizing thoughts on paper. 

Individuals with dyslexia struggle with reading fluency, accuracy, and comprehension, whereas those with dysgraphia typically have poor handwriting, inconsistent letter formation, and issues with spatial organization on the page.

Dyslexia can affect oral language skills and math abilities, particularly word problems, while dysgraphia generally doesn’t impact oral language but may affect the ability to write numbers and align them in equations.

Interventions for dyslexia focus on phonics instruction and comprehension strategies, while dysgraphia interventions often include occupational therapy and assistive technology for writing.

Although these conditions can co-occur, they require different approaches for diagnosis and support.

Aspect Dyslexia Dysgraphia
Primary Focus Reading skills Writing skills
Cognitive Processes Phonological processing Fine motor skills, spatial perception
Writing Manifestation Spelling errors, organizing ideas Poor handwriting, letter formation
Reading Challenges Significant Generally not affected
Oral Language Skills May be impacted Typically not affected
Math Impact Word problems, math facts Writing numbers, aligning equations
Intervention Approaches Phonics, fluency training Occupational therapy, assistive technology


Dyslexia presents unique challenges in writing, but it doesn’t define a person’s ability to communicate effectively. Understanding the characteristics of dyslexic writing is crucial for early identification and appropriate support.

With the right strategies, assistive technologies, and accommodations, individuals with dyslexia can significantly improve their writing skills and express their ideas confidently. It’s important to remember that dyslexia is a difference in learning, not a lack of intelligence or creativity.

By focusing on strengths, implementing tailored techniques, and fostering a supportive environment, people with dyslexia can overcome writing obstacles and achieve their full potential in written expression.

Frequently asked questions.

What does writing look like with dyslexia?

Writing with dyslexia often shows several characteristic features:

  • Inconsistent spelling, even with common words
  • Letter reversals (b/d, p/q) or transpositions (on/no)
  • Omitted or added letters in words
  • Unusual spacing between words or letters
  • Mixture of upper and lowercase letters
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts coherently on paper
  • Incomplete sentences or missing words
  • Strong ideas but struggles with putting them into writing

How can you tell if someone is dyslexic in writing?

Signs of dyslexia in writing include:

  • Persistent spelling errors, even in frequently used words
  • Inconsistency in spelling the same word within a single piece of writing
  • Phonetic spelling of words (e.g., “wuz” for “was”)
  • Difficulty with homophones (their/there, to/too/two)
  • Struggles with punctuation and capitalization
  • Avoidance of writing tasks or extreme anxiety about writing
  • Discrepancy between verbal abilities and written expression

How does dyslexia show up in writing?

Dyslexia manifests in writing through:

  • Poor organization of ideas on paper
  • Difficulty starting writing tasks or knowing what to write
  • Slow writing speed
  • Messy handwriting or unusual pencil grip
  • Trouble with copying text accurately
  • Difficulty with self-editing and proofreading
  • Limited use of varied vocabulary in writing compared to speaking
  • Challenges with grammar and syntax

How do you write with dyslexia?

Strategies for writing with dyslexia include:

  1. Use assistive technology: Text-to-speech software, spell-checkers, and voice recognition tools can be helpful.
  2. Create outlines or mind maps: Organize thoughts visually before writing.
  3. Use multisensory techniques: Say words aloud while writing or use tactile methods like writing in sand.
  4. Break tasks into smaller steps: Focus on one aspect of writing at a time (ideas first, then structure, then editing).
  5. Allow extra time: Recognize that writing may take longer and plan accordingly.
  6. Use color-coding: Highlight different parts of speech or sentence structures.
  7. Practice regularly: Consistent writing practice can improve skills over time.
  8. Seek support: Work with tutors or learning specialists familiar with dyslexia.
  9. Use templates: Pre-made structures for different types of writing can help with organization.
  10. Focus on strengths: Emphasize idea generation and content over perfect spelling and grammar initially.

Remember, each person with dyslexia is unique, and strategies that work for one individual may not work for another. It’s important to experiment with different approaches to find what works best.

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