Things Dyslexia Students Struggle With
And Their Hidden Superpowers

This article summarizes the most common things that dyslexia students struggle with.

While dyslexia is usually seen as a disability, most dyslexics also have surprising strengths in their thinking styles. Those strengths are often masked by their obvious difficulty with ‘simple’ things like reading and writing, and so often go unrecognized. 

We’ll summarize those common strengths too.

Related articles:
Dyslexia – What it is, challenges, how to overcome it.
4 Essential Things to Look for in a Dyslexia Tutor
How to Understand and Support a Child with Dyslexia

What Dyslexic Students Struggle With

While scientists believe there are several different causes of dyslexia, at its core, a dyslexia diagnosis means that a person has trouble learning to read and write. 

Thus, the most common things dyslexic students struggle with are:

  • Reading skills
  • Reversing letters and numbers when reading (for example reading “saw” as “was”)
  • Taking notes in classes and lectures
  • Processing and understanding written information

They often also have difficulties with things like:

  • Telling left from right
  • Following sequential instructions
  • Following travel directions (telling right from left, up from down and reading maps)
  • Learning and following rules of a game
  • Learning to tell time
  • Repeating something in the right order
  • Remembering words, phrases and names
  • Memorizing written lists and phone numbers
  • Staying on topic
  • Understanding word math problems
  • Expressing their ideas in an organized way

Together, these limitations often lead dyslexic children to:

  • Avoid being called on to read out loud in front of classmates
  • Become tired or frustrated from reading
  • Have trouble finishing assignments and tests within time limits

And unfortunately, these obvious challenges in the classroom tend to lead to lead to emotional problems as well:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty making and keeping friends
  • Becoming incredibly frustrated, especially with tasks that other people would consider easy
  • Perhaps worst of all, other people can label them as being lazy or just not trying hard enough. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: dyslexics have to work incredibly hard to accomplish tasks that others might find easy.

That’s a depressingly long list of things that dyslexia students struggle with.

But there is hope.

The daily challenges they deal with are not their fault. They just haven’t found someone who truly understands them, and who can teach them how to learn.

Related Article: How to Turn Your Child’s Dyslexia into a Superpower
Short course via Zoom: How to Understand and Support a Child with Dyslexia

Which brings us to the second part of this article.

While it’s true that dyslexics encounter many problems in academics and in life, they also have some extraordinary skills…

Hidden Superpowers of Dyslexics

The scientific consensus is that dyslexics have difficulty processing very fine-grained information. This leads to their reading difficulties.

In contrast, they are much stronger than most in processing big-picture information [1]. This allows them to see patterns that others miss [2, 3].

These unique ways of processing information give dyslexics some remarkable advantages.

The tend to be very strong at:

  • Seeing the big picture
  • Finding the odd one out in complex patterns
  • Spatial knowledge and manipulation
  • Visual thinking
  • Thinking outside the box

According to Matthew H. Schneps, an astrophysicist with dyslexia who conducts research in dyslexia at the Harvard Graduate School of Education [5]:

People with dyslexia may exhibit strengths for seeing the big picture (both literally and figuratively) others tend to miss. Thomas G. West has long argued that out-of-the-box thinking is historically part and parcel of dyslexia, and more recently physicians Brock and Fernette Eide have advanced similar arguments.

When leveraged and applied properly in life, these lead to some extraordinary benefits.

Sociologist Julie Logan of the Cass Business School in London found that dyslexia is relatively common among business entrepreneurs. They are people who tend to think differently and see the big picture in thinking creatively about a business.

Indeed, one in three American entrepreneurs had dyslexia.

Entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Charles Schwab were all dyslexic.


Dyslexics do have a lot of challenges, in academic studies and in life.

It’s tough for them. It’s tough for their parents. And it’s tough for their teachers.

But they also have some extraordinary strengths and abilities.

The trick is to help them discover how they learn best and how they think best. Once they do that, they can start to overcome their limitations and leverage their true strengths.

Related article: 4 Essential Things to Look for in a Dyslexia Tutor
Short course via Zoom: How to Understand and Support a Child with Dyslexia

If you would like to discuss how we could work with you and your dyslexic child to not just get by, to to thrive in school and in life, book a free consultation today.


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