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

20 thoughts on “Dyslexic Thinking Skills Explained

  1. Thank you Kate for this info …. I find this true about my son but we parents need to find our own wings to fly as far as nurturing our children. It’s not easy detaching from the system since there’s no specific system that guides/helps the dyslexic. Apprenticeship in different fields outside the formal set up perhaps?


    • It’s A struggle, but show you child your proud of them & encouraged them when their frustrated , I always told my child just do the best in what ever you do & don’t give up, your very smart, it was so wonderful to see how he was proud in what ever he did & what was more wonderful to show how proud we are of him,




  3. I find this article “pathfinding”. In an age where low scorers are termed dullards, this gives a new breath of life to a sizeable chunk of humanity.
    Sorry you had to leave Nigeria (Virgin -Nigeria Airways), it was not yet Uhuru.
    Thank you Sir R.Branson


  4. Awesome article ………I am Dyslexic Astro the article ….great insight in how we function. The only category I didn’t see explained was Retention !


  5. I found out I was dyslexic at 40. All fell into place then. Learnt how to use the gift of dyslexia to get my physiotherapy degree. The most academic student on the course told the tutors and students that although he would get the trophy for top student, he said that he knew I would be the best physiotherapist. A generous compliment and a statement that I have tried to live up to.
    Dyslexia is a gift not a disability… U can feel like u r all over the place but if u keep going things begin to settle down and make sense. Just finished writing my third book. So… Just get on with it and don’t let the exam types kill your creativity.


  6. Over thirty years ago I found out I wasn’t stupid or lazy, as I had been told many times at school. I just found conventional learning didn’t suit me. My son was assessed by Bevvy Hornsby, who was a top dyslexia specialist. She also tested me and found I was also dyslexic. Discovering I had above average IQ, we found my symbol skills, like maths, arithmetic was that of a 7-year-old.

    I was just going back to college, having great people around me who encouraged and championed me. I was scared of being ridiculed, as I had been as a child. It was tough putting myself through learning and I had to work many times harder than the other students. Later challenging myself to train in homeopathy, no-one gave me any quarter here and I had to put a lot more work into remembering masses remedies. If you’re dyslexic it hits on the nervous system, tires you out to learn conventually. Later I met a trainer of Primitive Reflexes. This works on removing the baby reflexes we are born with that have not been replaced by adult ones in the brain. This is important as we need these new adult reflexes to be fully working.

    It’s exhausting to have some of these baby reflexes as they are only designed to help us be born. My adult son and I used to travel to the Midlands every six weeks to work through correcting these outdated reflexes. It was brilliant for my son. He ended up as a Trader on the ‘Life floor.’ Important for his job to have a great short term memory. I also benifited. It taught me a lot. I always loved writing but my practical skills were terrible. so much lost because no one could connect up with how to transfer practical conventional learning skills. I’ve been a homeopath and hypnotherapist along with other therapies for 30 years. I also write and have had short stories and several poems published. Writing is a survival tool for me and I am so glad I persevered. I still mix up some letters sometimes and my brain doesn’t work in a conventional way, but I’m okay with that. We all work in different ways and we need to glory in what each individual can bring to life and help each other on our journey.


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  8. Sorry. This story is long , but I just want kids to know if you try hard people will help you in anyway they can,
    In the 60th there was no test for Dyslexia, you were considered A dummy, you would try hard in school, & feel like A dummy, but in your head you new you were smart, the school system would just pass you to move you on ,after you failed the grade I failed 1-3 & the rest I was passed on, I couldn’t read much so I learned by hearing, went from job to job only 4 jobs in my life time they new my problems, they took care of me as long I stayed with them. Working by 16, when I was 30 we had our first 👶 I felt bad I couldn’t read good enough to to read our baby A bed time story, so it made me to apply to A literacy course in our area , it took two years 4 hours A week to learn , the teacher would get me to read line by line with A book covering the rest of the page & help with all the words I couldn’t read . But by covering the rest of the page help me to keep me from jumping all over the pages, I felt so proud, I could read my son stories at bed time, but till up to 2 years ago I couldn’t spell & still can’t write, now I found out 5 months ago I can ask Siri on my I pad for the spelling word , as before I try to write with spell check but if you don’t know the first 3 letter of the word spell check no good,it just give you other words you don’t want , & is very frustrating, but to show you there are some people in this world 🌎 that have compassion on people, my last job with Bristol Myers Squibb pharmaceutical Canada 🇨🇦 , A man named Gary Aleen hired me as A caretaker for their building , after one year he called me in the office & said we are giving A per-motion to the mailroom, he said we lost our mail room person , I said yes , but I can’t spell or write good, that’s ok if you need help the admin’s can help you, you will be ok, your A hard worker & we don’t want to lose you. They gave me all the names in the office & the 100 reps in the field, I went home that night & my wife put all the names on A tape recorder so I could memorize the names& in the mail room I assigned numbers to each name & after typing all the names & addresses in the computer all I had to do was type in the number of the person & the way bill with the address would come out, I work for them for 19 years I was well paid, to provide my family with A beautiful home & A good life, I’m 64 now when I look back on my life it was hard but I gave it all I could & showed I was A hard worker, also on the job I had A good eye on how to save money 💰 the marketing people would come down to the mail room & ask if I could get A better price for their mailings , I would get them to cut down on the size of the packaging & by doing that on one big mailing the saved $1.00 A box, on that mailing they save $500.000 & I got them A deal with Canada 🇨🇦 post ,that that year they save $1ml. on their mailing cost, & other deals with the couriers,

    my son has problems with dyslexia not as bad as I was he drop out of school at 16 but for ten years he studied on the computer & at 26 went back to school to do 10,11,12, & passed with the valour Victorian the highest mark in the school, but he new he had to work harder then the other students & now is studying in electronics, living on his own with 3 other students, he feels really good about himself,we had A lot of patience with him we new he was A good kid & always respected us & I keep telling him try hard with what ever you do & you will make it , now he is doing real good & the teacher know he suffers from dyslexia & give him extra time to do his assignment because they know he is Achiever, so do your best that’s all you can do, & people will help you, Trevor Myles,


  9. My husband has Dyslexia. He always knows where I have either left or lost something. He always has a solution to solve a problem. He can build without plans or mend machines without manuals. Great at maths but needs some help with spelling.


  10. I enjoy all of these posts. I share them on our facebook page, because our students can achieve to their ability when they get to learn the way their brains are built. Thanks and keep them coming!


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