Dyslexia can lead to low self-esteem. The lasting effects of reading disabilities have been documented for years. Because these disabilities can persist into adulthood, children and adolescents with reading problems often develop low self esteem due to repeated failures. “A review of research on self-concept indicates that learning disabled children consistently rate themselves lower than their non-disabled peers in academic domains.” (Beitchman and Young, 1998, p.84). According to Dr. Sally Shaywitz, dyslexia researcher at Yale, dyslexia amounts to an attack on self-esteem.
Even successful adults with dyslexia recall how the struggle to succeed in school left them feeling stupid. Philip Schultz, the father of a dyslexic child, did not discover his own dyslexia until his son was diagnosed. According to this Pulitzer Prize winning poet “Dyslexia invokes scorn and repulsion from even those suffering it. . . . Dyslexia is a disability that pleads for pardon and forgiveness,”(Schultz, 2011, pp. 50-51). Ed Baines, another dyslexic author (and restaurateur/TV chef) remembers, “When you are dyslexic, you are often told, ‘You’re a failure. You won’t be able to do it’ ” (Baines, 2016, p. 32 ).
Beitchman, Joseph H and Young, Arlene R (1998), Learning Disorders With a Special Emphasis on Reading Disorders: A Review of the Past 10 Years. Reviews in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 78-89
Baines, Ed (2016) in Rooke, Margaret (Ed.), Creative Successful Dyslexic: 23 High Achievers Share Their Stories, London: Jessica Kingsley
Schultz,J Philip (2011), My Dyslexia, New York: WW Norton
Shaywitz, Sally E (2005), Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level New York: Random House
Thank you to Dr Clair Hinckley for contributing this article.