Who are you talking to?


I recently set up online banking with my bank. I achieved it but only after nearly having a nervous breakdown.

It went like this:

First phoned and was sent an allocation code in the post which arrived a week later.

Phoned again, passed to someone to quote my allocation code. All fine so far.

Then transferred to another person to receive a customer number but transfer broke down.

Phoned again, first put through to allocation number man again, then transferred to customer number man. All good this time.

Then transferred to someone to give my chosen password. My password is a well known place name, I use it all the time (naughty me but at least I can remember it!).

Then transferred to an automatic response to key in my pin number. Then everything complete. Time taken so far – 30 minutes.

So on to the digital banking website to do my first transaction with the RBS.

Key in customer number. OK.

Key in first, third and fourth numbers of pin number. OK

Key in second, third and eighth letters of password.

Sorry password not accepted in red letters. Oh, I think must have miscounted the letters, try again.

This time the first, fourth and seventh letters required. Red letters come up again, password not accepted.

So I write out my password and number all the letters and try for a third time. But this time I am locked out.

I phone again but even the person in RBS cannot get into my account and my explanations that the person I gave my password to originally clearly cannot spell, fell on deaf ears.

I had to start again and wait for a new allocation number to arrive in the post a week later. Then went through the whole process again only this time I spelt out my password letter by letter.

Moral of the story: always spell out words on the phone, the person listening might be dyslexic.

From frustrated bank customer.

What are the chances

My money’s on Prince George Alexander Louis being dyslexic

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if Prince George Alexander Louis grew up to be dyslexic?

What a boost that would be for us dyslexics to know that we are in good company!

In fact the odds are quite high on this. 10% of the population are dyslexic so the odds are already 10/1 but the Middletons and Windsors both have dyslexia in their families so that increases the odds considerably.

Kate’s brother James is reputed to be severely dyslexic and had to have special coaching to read at his sister’s wedding. Then HRH Princess Beatrice is dyslexic and even told us about her dyslexic experience at school in our book “Dyslexia and Us”.

But more importantly HRH Prince Harry is dyslexic and as he has exactly the same gene pool as his brother William, it is very possible that his nephew will inherit the dyslexic gene amongst that blue blood.

Dyslexia often jumps generations or goes zig zag through families. Michael Heseltine, former deputy prime minister, is dyslexic and so is his son, but not his daughter. However his daughter’s children are all dyslexic.

The Orr family, a well know farming family in the Scottish Borders, has dyslexia popping up in several generations and across the cousins. Alexander Orr, presently 18 years old, is dyslexic as was his grandfather, and his father, uncle and first cousins are also dyslexic. Then this pesky dyslexia takes a leap and turns up in Alexander’s second cousins too who have no less than 9 dyslexics in their family but they are all doing pretty well with college and university education and currently in jobs.

Andrew Duncan on the left, father of Alexander Orr in the middle and Duncan Orr on the right, uncle of Alexander

Andrew Duncan on the left, father of Alexander Orr in the middle and Duncan Orr on the right, uncle of Alexander

Of course, we will have to wait about 10 years to find out if Prince George Alexander Louis is dyslexic by which time he will potentially have dyslexic siblings. A dyslexic royal family, wouldn’t that be great, at last someone at the top who would really understand the condition and might even open the eyes of the nation to what it is like to be dyslexic. Welcome Prince George Alexander Louis to the world of dyslexia, I’m putting my money on you!


Was Walt Disney dyslexic?

Walt Disney

Walt Disney

On 17 July 1955, Disneyland opened in California.

I was going to tweet our followers on this anniversary and make a link to Walt Disney’s dyslexia. I was planning to go on to talk about the strengths that dyslexic people have and Dyslexia Scotland’s leaflet about Famous people with dyslexia.

But I thought I’d better just check the facts first.

Just as well I did.

It turns out that, according to Dave Smith, Director of Walt Disney Archives, ‘There is no indication anywhere in Walt’s history that he ever had dyslexia’.  So, although Walt Disney is ‘remembered’ for his dyslexia on numerous internet sites as being an excellent role model, he actually wasn’t dyslexic.

To read more about his ‘non dyslexia’, have a look at the full article

So, there may well be a number of famous people who are ‘assumed’ or falsely claimed to be dyslexic.
But a more serious problem is that there are still far too many children, young people and adults whose dyslexia is not identified (and therefore supported) when it should be.

This can lead to frustration, low motivation and stress, as well as overall severe low self-esteem at not reaching their potential. Early intervention is crucial.

The top reason for people calling Dyslexia Scotland’s Helpline is to find out about assessment – click on the Assessment section of our website to learn more about what is involved: http://bit.ly/1bI3A7L

Finding my way has never been easy!


I am not very good at directions, many people might think this is a gender thing, as the jokes go, women and directions and all that nonsense.

But for me it goes deeper than that, I even get lost on a well travelled path and getting from A to B can be a bit of a nightmare.

Now, not everyone is like this, my sibling, who is also dyslexic, has a mind for directions like a London cabbie.

They can pinpoint how every street connects, how you get to your destination in the shortest possible time, even in places they may have only been to once or twice.

They have even memorised all the bus numbers and routes. No matter where you want to go in the city, they can tell you the best way to get there.

Pretty amazing skill I’d say.

I, on the other hand, do not have a clue.

I have lived in my City for many, many years and when I was a teenager spent most of my life in the city centre, travelling around with friends. Yet, I still don’t know the street or area names and if people give me directions to follow or an area to get to, I’d be lost!

Driving is a whole other ball game. Trying to read the possible options on the board on the lead up to a junction or a roundabout in enough time for you to make a safe and conscious decision can be difficult.

I have, however, got 2 secret weapons up my sleeve to prevent me from spending my life going round in circles and turning up late.

The first is simply, the maps app on my phone.

I can’t read a paper map, I have tried to learn so many times but I just can’t relate what I read or see on the paper to what I am seeing around me.

I love all the different apps you can get now, there is an app for everything and so many of them make my life much easier. I make full use of the maps app with sat nav features. I use it in the car all the time and even when I am walking around – turning off the speaking function of course!

My second weapon is land marking, I am not sure how many people do this but, it really helps me get around.

Land marking is exactly what it says on the tin.

I look for little memorable things around the area I am in, to help me get to my destination and find my way back. This can be anything, but most of the time I look for shops, restaurants and interesting buildings that I know I will remember the next time I see them.

This enables me to create a virtual picture map in my mind, connecting everything together and helping me to get from A to B.

I still couldn’t tell you the names of the streets or areas in my city and would definitely get you lost if I gave you directions. But now, in most cases, I can get to where I am going without getting lost.

Their, there and they’re – picking the right option

In the previous post, we briefly touched on using spell checker, synonyms and online thesaurus when writing to improve spelling or help you make the right choice.

I find it very difficult to use a dictionary and spell check on its own does not always work. It is only using a combination of spell check and synonyms that I can ensure I have the right spelling.

You see, when you get the spelling of a word wrong, spell check gives you a few options, if it recognises what you have written as a possible word.

Like a dictionary, if you know the first few letters then you could probably find the word you are looking for or at least one that looks right….. but is it?

I defiantly think that I have spelled everything in the post correctly, there are no red squiggles and I have used spell check to review my content.

But, I am wrong; the word defiantly, while spelt correctly, is not the word I was looking for in that sentence. I picked the word that looked like definitely as the spelling is not dissimilar. Nevertheless, without using the synonyms function which provides possible alternatives to your chosen word, I would never have known I was wrong.

I find it easier to get the right word if it is shown in context, providing a definition or a sentence where the word has been used can help to ensure you have selected the right option. This is where the online thesaurus can really help. Many words in the English language are similarly spelt or sound similar, for example ensure and insure, selecting the wrong word and changing the whole meaning of your sentence can be so easily done.

So, while spell checker can be a useful tool for pointing out when a mistake has been made, it does not always work on its own, if at all. It’s only understanding the meaning of the word you have written that will ensure you have got it right.

Because I never got it right

There are always those few words that just don’t stick. It doesn’t matter how many times you use them or people correct them, you just can’t get them right. Sometimes, when writing something you will spell the same word a different way every time you write it.

I had a few growing up and still have a few now, but since I type rather than hand write most things they are less of a problem (oh the wonders of spell check, synonyms and online thesaurus. A subject for another entry I think).

My most common difficult words were ‘does’ which I always spelt as ‘dose’, ‘private’ which I always spelt as ‘privet’ – even now I find myself using the synonym function to make sure I got that the right way around. But my arch nemesis was ‘because’.

I was thinking about it recently and now can see no real reason why this word caused me so much trouble – but I always got this word wrong, no matter how many times I wrote it and got it corrected in red pen, it just didn’t stick.

One day, I think out of pure frustration from repeatedly pointing out my mistake, the teacher sat me down and taught me a way of remembering how to spell the word ‘because’.

She taught me a saying – this sentence actually makes no sense and I have heard better versions, but this one is mine:

Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants, BECAUSE.

I said it to myself over and over again until I remembered it and every time I went to write ‘because’, I saw the first letters of each word pop out at me, as bold as brass.

I have tried this may times for different words but none of them I can remember now. However, I still use my saying – every time I write the word ‘because’, I say it in my head and I have never got it wrong again.

Super Speller

Super Speller

Arch nemesis defeated!

Symbiotic partnerships

Dyslexia Scotland relies on the continued support of its members, ambassadors, staff, volunteers and of course many organisations to help us achieve our goals.

One such important partnership has developed with Edinburgh City Libraries.

Sarah Forteath, Business Development Manager, Library & Information Services at City of Edinburgh Council writes:

‘Edinburgh City Libraries and Dyslexia Scotland have developed a strong partnership since Dyslexia Awareness Week launched in Central Library in Edinburgh in November 2010.

The success of the partnership is based on the mutual benefit to both organisations – through our increased knowledge of dyslexia we have been able to develop our reading services to incorporate the UK’s first reading group for children with dyslexia.

We have been able to encourage many more young people with their parents and families into our libraries by using Dyslexia Scotland’s host of fabulous ambassadors to launch events –  as well as their President Sir Jackie Stewart and Kenny Logan!

In turn we host a series of creative and entertaining events for free in our libraries for Dyslexia Awareness Week every year and encourage several hundreds of people to get involved in reading for pleasure.

In the next 12 months we aim to roll out several more Dyslexia Chatterbooks reading groups across the city too!

Our partnership is of great interest to other professionals and I’ve been asked to speak about it at a Spotlight at the annual conference of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP Umbrella 2013) in Manchester on 3 July.’

To find out what events are available in The Edinburgh area visit www.edinburghreads.eventbrite.co.uk.  Details of events taking place across Scotland during Dyslexia Awareness Week will be published soon.