PhD and Dyslexia


Dear all,

I am so happy to find his forum topic. I'm on the last leg of my PhD and am totally shattered. I have accepted in my life that some things take me longer to do than other people - that's fine.

I do not believe that dyslexia is a disability, Dyslexia is a different way the mind operates. Unfortunately the education system, including the system of grammar and syntax, are not designed to cater for the dyslexic mind. I do sincerely hope that in the future the world will recognize that the cognitive mind works in difference ways. It should be accepted that dyslexia is not a disability, the way dyslexics learn should be studied, so new ways of leaning should be invented for dyslexics and non dyslexics.

Anyway back to my sorrow. Writing my PhD is tearing me apart, all this self doubting - yes all these comments about grammar- drive me mad.

I know i can think well, very well in fact - but my writing lets me down, I need so much more time to bring a text to an acceptable standard.

In many ways Dyslexia is a gift - my favorite writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez is dyslexic, so it's not that we can't be writers - we just have to work more on the writing bit - but perhaps we work less on the thinking bit - cause our mind and thought spins faster than non dyslexics :)

Today has been the most difficult of all days. I'm so near finishing and so far in self confidence. I have met dyslexics with a PhD and this is what keeps me going. No one can understand our struggle and thank you for this forum. I will be a frequent visitor.

Take courage everyone ! be strong and feel lucky that we have a brain that can mirror an object in many different angles, just one would be boring :)

what a trip


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I have a successful career as an academic. Both as an employ and as a student I have chosen not declared/disclose me as dyslexic. I do not like the 'disability' label attached to it, I do not agree with it. Besides, I did not grow up in the UK, I was diagnosed as a child by a qualified child psychologist in my country. In the UK when I was a student getting the test done was very expensive.
My colleagues and supervisor know that I'm dyslexic. Most of my colleagues are supportive, but there are times that some may say a comment that will hurt my feelings.

Over the years, I have met with plenty of discouraging comments about my written work. But I will survive, over the years I have learned to use ways to coupe: colour coding, ideas mapping, wall mounting - you name it I do it! Although I always complain about voice recognition software: worthless. Having software reading your emails is ok.

Anyways my policy: is don't let anyone discourage you. Do your thing.

As for the fellow contributor, It seams to me that you have grounds for a discrimination act. My advise is put all this on paper and send it as a complaint to the student services and your Dean of school. You should not let this pass.
letter to the Dean immediately no matter how good or bad your grammar is !!!


Hi, pre_phd,

it can be tough, but it's certainly possible.

I play it by ear as regards disclosing - some people are not very understanding!

Disclosure is not about being able to use excuses (I'm not suggesting this is your aim!) - it's more about supporting you in working around particular problems that disadvantage you when compared to non-dyslexics; the rules are usually quite specific that you'll not be given any favours re exams. etc., and that standards will have to be maintained (i.e. your thesis will have to be of the same literary quality as everyone else)

For me (I have memory & note-taking problems, for instance), it means e.g. I can take a recording device into the viva, so that I can clearly recall the instructions given to me re. changes that will be needed to pass (as most people would be able to write notes above my speed - which under a pressure can be that of a 3 year old!). I have also had a mentor to help me organise

It has taken me a long time to get things done - reading papers etc. and writing takes me at least 3 times longer than most people. But I have found doing a PhD has helped me to develop strategies of coping with the difficulties

In retrospect, I would have got help before, because my uni. offers literacy classes and one-to-one dyslexia support sessions, where they give advise on organisation etc., and I think this would have sped things up somewhat

I would advise you to consider approaching the uni disability services - your dyslexia can go on record, but only those that //you want to know within your dept. need be told, when /you/ want to, and they can advise in lots of ways. Initially, it might be worth you taking a look on the uni webpage - there should be some info. re. dyslexia support. Mentors can be quite useful in helping you keep things together and liasing

Good luck!


I'm quite shocked reading this - for a start my sup is dyslexic and makes no attempt to cover it up and is very open about it - that hasn't stopped him rising through the ranks to prof, publishing heaven only knows how many articles/books etc. Another of the PhD students I know is also dyslexic but she had the opposite problem, they had suggested that maybe she wasn't cut out for this apparently as she was having so many problems when it was suggested she spoke to student support - was given a test, found to be dyslexic, now has equipment provided, proofreaders etc and the sups have been nothing but supportive of her and are stunned by how changed her work is now that she has the tools she needs to write effectively. I've never seen (certainly in our dept and we're humanities) anything other than complete support at both under and post grad level and students are encouraged to disclose if they think they have a problem and get tested. Obviously they can't use it as a excuse for sloppy work (typos etc) but they are helped to get it all sorted and learn strategies to help themselves. That a student is being penalised for something like dyslexia is like a student in a wheelchair being encouraged to back out of a degree due to the lecture being on the 2nd floor and the uni refusing to provide lifts - utterly unheard of and illegal!


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Good heavens! Someone has posted a load of utter tripe on several threads! MODS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please remove these stupid posts!


Hi everyone,

There is a new treatment in germany for dyslexia., my son had the treatment. His reading ability increase by 25%. Shocking but it works.


Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

My predecessor was dyslexic, yet he got through.  I don't see what the issue is provided you get the support you need.

My primary supervisor was also his and he would not allow a candidate to submit until he was 99% certain at most they would only incur minor corrections.  So the thesis was read, reread and reread again, etc. until he was happy it was okay to submit. 

I guess you have to be up front about your dyslexia from the beginning.  However, contact admissions (not your potential supervisor) and see what provision will be made for your disability.  A level playing field has to be created and that's what the various legislation is there for.  You can then tell your potential supervisor not just about your dyslexia, but you will also come across as more organised as you will know about what provision and help will be available.

There's no accounting for the views of different possible supervisors and how they will handle the situation.  However, at interview if there's a problem then they are not people you want to work with.  They are the dinosaurs with the problem and not you.;-)



Slightly long post!

This is my first post on this site. Although the OP was a while ago, but I felt I should share my experiences for anyone else who might read this in a similar position.

I am a dyslexic PhD student coming to the end of my PhD in a science-based subject (neuroscience). I was diagnosed at the start of my BSc and registered with the university disability support office. I had support during my BSc which was helpful. During my MSc I did not rely on it so much as, like some other posters here, I didn’t want to rely on this lable of ‘disabled’. I managed to get through the masters without much hassle and I was awarded a distinction. Obviously, based on this, I felt I can overcome my dyslexia myself without support.

During the PhD, it was a completely different story! I really struggled with my writing. My grammar and spelling has been appalling. In particular, my proof-reading is non-existent: The last chapter I wrote I re-read 4 times, once using a text-to-speech software provided by my disability support fund, and I still missed several fundamental mistakes with grammar, punctuation and spelling. I decided at the start of my second year I needed to get back to the disability office and take advantage of the support available.

Unfortunately, I found that the support structure provided was very gears towards taught degrees. Things like, extra time in exams, extensions to deadlines, extensions to library loans, are all pretty pointless in the context of a research degree. I needed extra time to write up my thesis and I really had to fight to get it without having to fork out for additional fees, whereas during my BSc, such extensions were offered to me with little fuss and no financial cost.

My supervisors are aware of my dyslexia, and they try to be supportive, but they are less than forgiving when I hand over a piece of work that is full of grammar and spelling mistakes! Although I am aware my problems need addressing, and I am glad they have been pointed out, I find their comments often dents my self-esteem and ends up demotivating me further. Especially considering the amount of time and effort I had put into proof reading the work prior to sending it!

The disability office offered me equipment and software to help me. I had a support tutor offered to me, although because of numerous delays, I didn’t get to take advantage of this until the beginning of my 3rd year. She was helpful in terms of providing me with new writing strategies, and helping me be more aware of my writing style, helping me be more organised and coping with stress. I think they were helpful sessions, and they have improved my writing a bit, but even with them, and all the other support I get, I still make quite a few mistakes with grammar and spelling.

I think, for me, a big part of the problem was I am not very good at managing stress. Looking back, I think I was perhaps a bit naïve about the amount of stress a PhD entails and the standard of writing that is expected in a PhD. Both of these factors caused my dyslexia to manifest in a much bigger way than during my MSc.

From my experience, doing a PhD with dyslexia is a big struggle and that support structures in place are (at least at my university) not very applicable to research students. I do not mean to dissuade anyone with a leaning disability from taking on a PhD as it is ultimately very rewarding, I’m just saying, be prepared for a challenge. Obviously, everyone is different; everyone is effected by dyslexia differently so there’s nothing to say my experience is the norm.


i think im dslexic
I came across this web page when i typed' how can i do phd if i have dyslexia'.
I did my undergraduate BFA in painting so life was easier 90% becos my subjects required me to make pictures. My theory courses were tough. i did understand what i wanted to sya in my research papers but when i wrote it used to make no sense. My MA was in filmmaking , i did great in my studio courses byt my theory teacher wanted to fail me. :((

I am thinking of doing a phd In filmmaking not cinema studies. Cos text is scary, when i read it i have to read over and over again to understand it. so phd in filmmaking would have practical component. but there not many universities offering that. now since last couple of years sometimes when i speak i mean to say one word but a different wrong one comes out of my mouth. Whne i write if there is no spell check i cant tell if i made mistakes. so proof reading is a nightmare. ALso when i write im told that i am all over the place.
When itry to express myself i am unable to articulate my thoughts and cant convince people which makes me frustrated and angry at times. the more i explain the less people get it.
I feel it is getting worse with time. I am 40 yrs old female filmmaker now. i have been teaching in uni and school systems for over 14yrs now. but now i feel i have less and less control over my textual expression im quite scared. Am i going mad or is this normal. i have been under a lot of professional stress as i quit my job in feb. is that y teh dyslexia is gettign worse or its just taht im going mad.
There are places in Pakistan where i cant go to get diagnosed for this. so im stuck i dotn know what to do. i dont kwno what to do. if you have any advice please do share with me
thank you


Hello everyone. I'm currently slowly preparing to do an executive MBA. I have struggled in academia due to my dyslexia. I'm looking for any and all help define the appropriate resources to start my voyage. I have been trying to find the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2016 as an audiobook? Any help would be greatly appreciated


Yes. First year student. My supervisor knows but it's not been written down. I completed my MBA without any help either. I am 38 now and have gained a lot of strategies room help but my structuring is bad sometimes! Good luck. Remember it's a disability and you have a right to help if you require it.


I am.. I was just made aware of my condition few weeks back, and now it made more sense on why I do things the way I did.. thank you for sharing..


I get your point! i can help you out you can join Alpha To Omega Training Courses in week days or on holidays to improve your skills. They are specialized in training Dyslexia students.


Think hard about taking advice from those who have no experience of dyslexia, or tell you to use particular tech or lawyers. Dyslexia can be seen as a money making industry, or people may have little knowledge and be pretty dismissive about the condition or just ignorant. I would suggest that anyone facing problems with dyslexia in their university check out the law on this area. I know of at least one person who was given questions in advance of a viva due to their dyslexia, so adjustments can be major rather than just minor. The following is another example of the degree of adjustment that may be made in the case of a specific learning difficulty: -

It may also be useful to look at the cases that have been successful with the Office for the Independent Adjudicator.

I made the mistake of not pushing hard enough in the early days of my PhD as I have had better support in other universities, or alternatively other environments had been so supportive that my dyslexia was never made very apparent. That degree of support has not been therein my current university. My advice is to make sure that you know the law and the right adjustments are in place before the viva or any other exam. It may feel that you should be taking time to revise or prepare for an exam, but this is just as (if not more) important. Also be aware that some academics may not be very knowledgeable about dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties. Some may even have discriminatory viewpoints.