Dyslexic Thinking Skills Explained

“It’s time we all understand dyslexia properly as a different way of thinking, not a disadvantage”. Sir Richard Branson 

With so much focus at this time of year on exam results, it’s an ideal time to write about Dyslexic Thinking Skills. Because whether you get the grades you want or not, the key to success in life is to recognise and nurture your Dyslexic Thinking.

Finding your passions; things you love to do and are naturally good at, and then working really hard to become great at them is a winning formula in whatever endeavour you choose. This is SO important for dyslexics; a passionate and determined bunch who often become ‘experts’ and ‘pioneers’ at what they do. It’s a formula that all of these amazing dyslexic thinkers use…and just look what they’ve achieved! 

Round Pegs in Square Holes

Dyslexic minds process information in divergent, creative and lateral ways, and have created some of the world’s greatest inventions, brands and art. But education systems aren’t designed for dyslexic thinking and typically measure success by how accurately students regurgitate facts in an exam or test. Most dyslexics find this difficult, and stifling to their imaginative and creative thinking.  In our recent interview with Richard Branson he said “If you’re not good at conventional education you are made to feel stupid”. 

That’s why many dyslexics only begin to flourish after school, when they’re no longer forced to fit into the confines of education and can truly tap into their dyslexic thinking and apply it to their endeavours. Like Richard Branson who you will recognise in many of the Skills listed below.

21st Century Skills

4 out of 5 dyslexic people attribute their success to their dyslexic thinking. There are a large percentage of dyslexics in fields like Entrepreneurship,  Engineering, Creative and Tech industries, and in organisations like the British Intelligence agency (GCHQ) actively recruit dyslexics for their Reasoning skills.  

Now Neuroscience is giving extraordinary insight into the physical differences in dyslexic brains that lead to these enhanced thinking skills. 9 out of 10 dyslexics describe their thinking as “seeing past detail to gain a strategic (big picture) view of a subject/problem”. Dr. Manuel Casanova (University of Kentucky School of Medicine) has found that dyslexics have longer connections in certain parts of the brain, which explain this big-picture processing skill.

Surely, it’s time for education to catch up and find a better way of measuring our young people? We’re working on that! But in the meantime it’s super important we all recognise and nurture the talents in dyslexic people, young and old.

Dyslexic Thinking Skills Explained

There are 6 Dyslexic Thinking Skills areas.  These are broken into two areas: Specific Skills which relate to the career paths often preferential to dyslexic thinkers; and General Skills which relate to most sorts of education, activities and careers. 

Whilst no two dyslexics are the same, all will have a combination of some of these skills.


VISUALISING: Interacting with space, senses, physical ideas & new concepts. (75% of dyslexics are above average at Visualising).  

  • Moving: physical interpretation & game playing. Examples: Dancer, Musician, Sports player.
  • Making: visualising, planning & making. Examples: Engineer, Architect, Craft worker, Programmer, Designer, Chef, Gardener.
  • Inventing: exploring possibilities, making connections & inventing. Examples: Scientist, Technologist, Entrepreneur.

IMAGINING: Creating an original piece of work, or giving ideas a new spin (84% of dyslexics are above average at Imagining).                   

  • Creating: creating completely original work from your imagination. Examples: Designers, Artists, Composers, Writers.
  • Interpreting: using imagination to give ideas a new twist, or bring out a fresh angle. Examples: Actor, Advertiser, PR, Director, Photographer. 

COMMUNICATING: Crafting & conveying clear & engaging messages. (71% of dyslexics are above average at Communicating).                                         

  • Explaining: assessing situations/information, & explaining clearly to other people. Examples: Journalist, Marketeer, Politician, Teacher, Campaigner.
  • Story-telling: creating vivid & engaging experiences in words, pictures or other media. Examples: Author, Writer, Games Developer, Song Writer, Film Maker.


REASONING: Understanding patterns, evaluating possibilities & making decisions.  (84% of dyslexics are above average in Reasoning).                                  

  • Simplifying: understanding, taking apart & simplifying complex ideas & concepts.
  • Analysing: using logic to decide on strength of an argument or where the truth lies.
  • Deciding: interpreting patterns & situations to predict future events & make decisions.           
  • Visioning: seeing past detail to gain a strategic (big picture) view of a subject or problem.

CONNECTING: Understanding self; connecting, empathising & influencing others. (80% of dyslexics are above average at Connecting).                                                                        

  • Understanding self: recognising & managing own feelings, & understanding how they affect own behaviour and that of others.
  • Understanding others: understanding & interpreting the verbal, physical & emotional reactions of other people.
  • Influencing: managing, influencing & inspiring constructive emotions in other people. Empathising: sensing, understanding & responding (emotionally and/or practically) to how people feel. 

EXPLORING: being curious & exploring ideas in a constant & energetic way. (84% of dyslexics are above average at Exploring).           

  • Learning: having a curiosity for finding out new things and learning new skills.       
  • Digging: looking into things in a way that means most is learnt or discovered.  
  • Energising: being so passionate about something it gives a buzz and tenacity to learn about it.
  • Doing: using new knowledge to achieve a result that surprises & pleases self or others 

To take our Dyslexic Thinking Skills test go to madebydyslexia.org

“You can be good at something very simple that you enjoy, and turn it into your life’s work that makes you want to get out of bed with a spark in your eye“.  Jamie Oliver 

Here’s an example of how Jamie Oliver used his dyslexic thinking of Creating, Explaining, Connecting and Energising, to help him succeed.


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Thank you!

Kate Griggs