Success Factors for Adult Dyslexics

Many dyslexics lead successful lives; some dyslexics are exceptionally successful. Wouldn’t it be great if we could work out what factors help adults to be successful? This is the question I asked myself that resulted in my research project with 78 dyslexic adults.

Here is what these adults said were the core factors for their successes in life. Incidentally, these were normal, ordinary dyslexics. Not everything went well for them and they all described challenges in life too.

They are highly determined. This is also the number 1 trait that successful non dyslexic people have too. “Most people who have made a £million have difficult childhoods or have been frustrated in a major way.  Dyslexia is one of the driving forces behind that” said Dr Adrian Atkinson, a psychologist involved in the BBC research on millionaires.  So, the nature of a dyslexic individual’s life where they have to struggle from an early age may well incubate this concept that you have to be determined and work hard to get anywhere. 

Dyslexic adults can be creative and skilled in atypical problem solving. In lay terms, the more complex circuitry in the dyslexic brain can generate more creative thoughts.

They need to find right niche.  We generally find that the successful dyslexic found a particular niche for themselves which enabled them to show their abilities and strengths.  This was often transformational for them, particularly after a difficult childhood in the education system.

All successful people, whether they are neuro diverse or not, are Confident. An interesting aspect of the research findings, was that those people who believed their dyslexia conferred strengths reported much higher levels of self esteem, than those who only saw it as a challenge.

Many of these adults said that they have good Verbal Skills and are Empathetic.  This may be due to having to struggle at school which has given them more sympathy with others’ difficulties.  This is a key strength in many areas of working life, such as managing staff, teaching, social work, sales and the care occupations.

Successful outcomes in life are not all down just to the individual themself though. Most said they had, had the Support of a family member or a particular teacher, and later in life, a spouse or a mentor.

All the respondents talked about needing good coping strategies to manage the challenges of the condition. One question was “What advice would you give to a young dyslexic adult?” The answers were:

  • Learn coping strategies early
  • Tell yourself you are different but not unworthy
  • Ask or seek help

The full report on the research findings can be found on the British Dyslexia Association’s website at under the News section. There is also a book describing the factors in detail, and most importantly, how to acquire them as well as case studies. The book is “Self-Fulfilment with Dyslexia: A Blueprint for Success” available through BDA or most large bookstores. Finally, there is an elearning programme “Success at Work and at Home” also available through BDA Training, see

By Margaret Malpas, MBE

Joint Chair of the British Dyslexia Association



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