How to provide emotional support for people with suspected dyslexia – part 2 | Dyslexia UK

How to provide emotional support for people with suspected dyslexia – part 2

October 23, 2023 Keir Williams Comments Off

The social challenges that can result from dyslexia can be particularly impactful on an individual’s emotional state. Feelings of embarrassment, shame, and anxiety can arise as a result of struggling with language processing and social interactions. The stigma surrounding dyslexia can lead to individuals feeling ashamed of their difficulties and trying to hide them from others. This can result in a negative self-image and lack of confidence, further exacerbating emotional distress. Anxiety is one of the most common emotional symptoms reported by dyslexic adults, with the inconsistency of dyslexia leading to fear of entering new situations and a perpetual feeling of anticipated failure. This can lead to physical symptoms such as panic attacks, adding an additional layer of stress and anxiety to the experience of dyslexia.

Frustration and anger can also be common emotional experiences for individuals with dyslexia. Young people may direct their anger towards parents, teachers, or siblings, while teenagers may struggle with the tension between their desire for independence and their learned dependence on others. For adults, frustration at their inability to progress in their work or studies can lead to anger directed inwardly, with individuals blaming themselves for their difficulties.

Fear is often experienced by people with undiagnosed dyslexia, and can manifest in a variety of ways. One of the most common fears experienced by those with dyslexia is the fear of failing. Due to difficulties they may have experienced in the past, people with dyslexia may lack self-confidence and have a low sense of self-worth. As a result, they may be afraid to try new things or take on new challenges, for fear of not being able to succeed.

Another fear that is common among those with dyslexia is the fear of being found out. Adults with undiagnosed dyslexia may be afraid of being asked to do tasks that they find challenging or of losing their job due to mistakes and errors. They may also be afraid to ask for help or support, and may go to great lengths to hide their difficulties.

In addition to these fears, people with undiagnosed dyslexia may also have a fear of being judged or criticized. This fear may stem from negative experiences they may have had in the past, such as being told off by a parent or teacher. Criticisms related to a lack of effort, motivation, intelligence or ability, and especially those made in public, such as in a classroom, can be particularly damaging and may result in fear in later life.

A further fear experienced by those with dyslexia could be a fear of rejection. Children who come from families that place a high value on academic success may feel inadequate or inferior to their siblings who do not have dyslexia. They may fear being rejected by their family or peers, and this fear can be particularly strong during adolescence, when social relationships and acceptance become increasingly important.

The experience of fear can also have significant effects on a person’s mental health, and people with dyslexia are at a higher risk of developing low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. Depression in children can often manifest itself in different ways than in adults, and children with dyslexia may become more active or misbehave in an attempt to cover up their painful feelings. Children and adults who are depressed tend to have negative thoughts about themselves, view the world in a negative way, and have difficulty imagining anything positive about the future.

It is important to note that these fears and mental health concerns can be alleviated through appropriate support and intervention. For people with dyslexia, this may involve seeking a formal diagnosis and accessing support and accommodations in school or the workplace. Therapy and counseling can also be helpful for individuals with dyslexia who may be struggling with low self-esteem or anxiety.

It is also important for family members, teachers, and peers to understand the challenges faced by people with dyslexia and to provide support and encouragement. This can include providing opportunities for success and positive reinforcement, as well as creating a supportive and understanding environment in which the individual feels safe to ask for help when needed.


All the above emotions can be experienced by people with and without dyslexia at different times in their lives. However for people with undiagnosed dyslexia, they might not appreciate that the underlying reason for their emotional issue relates to dyslexia.


A diagnosis identifies a person’s areas of strength. These can sometimes be surprising, as well as motivating to the individual. A diagnosis of dyslexia can also formally identify the areas in which a person has difficulties, and recommend helpful strategies that can be put in place. This is particularly useful as even if the person has a good understanding of the level and nature of their difficulties, they are unlikely to know how to access the help or support that could assist them.

Overall, a diagnostic assessment report can bring all of the bewildering inefficiencies a person experiences into a consistent picture that helps to clearly explain their problems. This provides them with an understanding for the reasons they have their difficulties and therefore a dyslexia diagnosis can often bring a sense of relief.

However, despite having a reason for their difficulties explained, it can take some time for the emotional and social consequences to be overcome. For many people who have been keep their difficulties, it can take time for them to come to terms with the fact that they have been confused about themselves from many years. Confidence takes time to develop and does not come overnight.

For more information about what is assessed as part of a dyslexia assessment, read this post:

For advice on supporting teenagers with suspect dyslexia, click on the link below:

To speak to a dyslexia assessor, contact us: