How Can Dyslexia Affect Emotions?

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If you have dyslexia, you might find it difficult to manage your emotions. Find out what dyslexia is, if there is a connection between dyslexia and emotional issues, if dyslexia symptoms affect people’s emotions, how dyslexia affects emotions of children and people at work, and what can be done to manage emotions.

What is dyslexia?

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Dyslexia is a common learning difference that mainly causes problems with reading, writing, and spelling.

It is also perceived as a specific learning difficulty, which means it causes problems with certain abilities used for learning.

Despite dyslexia being a learning difficulty or a learning difference, it does not affect intelligence. It can, however, affect emotions.

Is there a connection between dyslexia and emotional issues?

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Although dyslexia is not an emotional disorder, it can lead to feelings of anxiety, anger, low self-esteem and depression.

Anxiety is the emotional symptom that adults with dyslexia experience the most. They become fearful because of their constant confusion and frustration at work or an educational setting.

Anger in adults with dyslexia occurs out of frustration with work or social situations. Social scientists have frequently made this connection. Workplaces and employers are the obvious targets of the dyslexic’s anger.

Depression is also an emotion that many people with dyslexia experience. They are at higher risk for intense feelings of sorrow and pain. They are also more likely to have low self-esteem.

Do the symptoms of dyslexia affect people’s emotions?

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The symptoms of dyslexia, such as struggling to read, write and spell, can affect people’s emotions by causing them to withdraw from classes at school, college or university, or meetings and tasks at work, for example. They can also make them become anxious about the work they do at these placements.

 Not only can dyslexia affect emotions in an educational or working environment, but it can also affect emotions in relationships.

 Since dyslexia is hereditary, it can affect emotions in the whole family. For example, a non-dyslexic sibling may feel jealous of the dyslexic one because they may get more attention and money from the parents than the non-dyslexic child.

How does dyslexia affect the emotional well-being of children?

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In 2020, a study by the University of California San Francisco has shown that children with dyslexia are more likely to display stronger emotional responses than children without dyslexia.

32 children aged 8 -12 with phonological dyslexia and 22 children without dyslexia participated in the study. They watched some emotionally evocative videos, such as one of a baby laughing, and the people who conducted the study found that the higher emotional reactivity was connected to stronger activity in the brain’s salience network. The salience network supports emotion generation and self-awareness.

Like experiencing issues with learning at school affecting their well-being, dyslexic children who participated in the study also had greater symptoms of anxiety and depression.

How does dyslexia impact emotional well-being at work?

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In 2017, a different study by the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Centre at the Imperial College London has shown that unsupported dyslexic staff will experience higher levels of negative anxiety and stress compared to dyslexic staff who are supported at work. Long-term anxiety and stress can affect an employee’s overall physical and mental well-being.

If dyslexics at work are unsupported, they are more likely to experience issues with engagement and low career well-being. Those who have a supportive manager or leader are more likely to experience both greater levels of job satisfaction and less job-related anxiety.

Employers who are unaware of their employees’ dyslexia can also affect their well-being. If employers were more aware of dyslexia and other types of neurodiversity, it would increase the productivity and engagement of dyslexic or other neurodiverse employees.

How can the emotional well-being of people with dyslexia be supported?

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If children with dyslexia experience issues with their emotional well-being, adults such as parents, teachers, and special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCos) can offer them consistent and ongoing encouragement and support. These include listening to the child’s feelings, helping the child learn to talk about their feelings and rewarding the child for their effort.

Adults with dyslexia can manage their emotional well-being by carrying out voluntary work or choosing vocations that require empathy and a social conscience. They can also reach out to other adults to discuss their problems. These experiences can help dyslexic adults feel more positive about themselves and deal with their pain and frustration more effectively.

Webinar: Dyslexia & Emotional Dysregulation

Ruth-Ellen Danquah, our Chief Innovation Officer, hosted a webinar on Dyslexia and Emotional Dysregulation. The webinar covers how those with dyslexia can identify their different emotions, how to manage them, and how Exceptional Individuals can support the individuals.

Please visit our page on how we can support employees with dyslexia. If you think you have traits of dyslexia, take our free am I dyslexic quiz to find out if you have neurodivergent traits.

Blog Author

April Slocombe