This thesis, discusses the implications of the social and private constructions of dyslexia for the individual with dyslexia and the dyslexic identity. In view of the difficulties inherent in higher education this study interviews people with dyslexia who successfully entered degree courses at university. It explores their experiences in an effort to gain an understanding of how people with dyslexia form an identity. Issues surrounding 'dyslexia' have increasingly focused on its credibility as a 'genuine' medical and disabling condition. The social expectations of the condition and the differing social and medical models of conditions warranting the label 'disability' have complicated issues further. Thus far, research into dyslexic issues has mainly focused on the causation and remediation of the condition and although studies have exposed certain tensions surrounding social expectation of those with conditions deemed to be disabling, how people who describe themselves as dyslexic identify with their dyslexia as adults has been largely ignored. In view of the tensions surrounding social expectations of and certain official definitions associated with dyslexia, this thesis explores how individual's identify with their dyslexia in view of dominant perceptions of dyslexia, which is further identified through media portrayals of dyslexia and their own experiences of living with this condition. The study consists of a discourse analysis of the representations of dyslexic issues in newspaper articles. Findings discuss how representations of dyslexia are described within the context of 'inability' and how individuals are often identified as 'victims' of the condition. The onus was often on finding a 'cure'. However, the study also includes accounts of individuals who referred to social barriers which had impacted on their learning. The study carries out a discourse analysis of semi-structured interviews with students who are attending university and describe themselves as dyslexic, and investigates public representations of dyslexia informed through newspaper articles which refer to dyslexia and those labelled dyslexic. The findings reveal that media portrayals of dyslexia often associate it with inability or a lack of ability to achieve in reading and writing skills. However, many of the participants believed their dyslexia to be a benefit or gift, yet were often hesitant to disclose these beliefs to public scrutiny. The study also found that some of the men and women in the study often interpreted their experiences differently from each other and this pronipted an investigation into how social constructions of gender can provide insight into how some individuals with dyslexia re-form their identity with this condition.

Document Type


Publication Date