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Vital: DYSLEXIA DOESN'T SPELL FAILURE; Difficulty with words need not hinder learning or development. Here we give the lowdown on how sufferers can win through.

Byline: By Lisa Adams

DYSLEXIA can actually spell a life of success. That's what Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, was keen to hit home when she announced last week that her 16-year-old daughter Princess Beatrice suffers from the letter muddling condition.

'Beatrice is so sweet,' said Fergie. 'She told me she wanted people to know so that other children will get the help they need. She is quite proud of the fact that she has overcome this and doesn't think it is anything to hide.'

In fact, many of the most successful people on the planet are dyslexic.

Hollywood heart-throb Tom Cruise, Virgin tycoon Richard Branson, Scotland rugby hero Kenny Logan and actress Keira Knightley all admit dyslexia meant they found school a struggle.

Today experts believe dyslexia is often a sign of creativity and with the right treatment sufferers can achieve anything they want in life.

Here are the facts about the condition.

WHAT IS DYSLEXIA? The word dyslexia comes from the Greek meaning 'difficulty with words'-and that's exactly what it is. Reading, writing and spelling are a struggle.

It affects 10 per cent of Scots, with four per cent severely affected. However, literacy experts know it is not related to intelligence.

It is not known exactly what causes the condition but it often runs in families. If one parent is dyslexic, there is a 50 per cent chance their children will inherit dyslexia.

Some medical tests have shown differences in the make-up of a dyslexic brain compared to a non-dyslexic brain. In a dyslexic's brain the language area is often unusually symmetrical and there may also be tiny differences in the layout of nerve cells and the way they connect.

Research from the Dyslexia Institute reveals that three times as many boys as girls receive additional teaching because of their dyslexia.

HOW TO SPOT THE SIGNS Children are born with dyslexia, however it's only when they begin to learn, using words and numerical symbols, that it becomes noticeable.

Words become jumbled when reading and problems with numbers and reading music are also very common. Other signs to look out for include confusing words like up/down or in/out, jumbling up phrases and writing letters the wrong way round. The difficulties dyslexia cause can be hugely damaging to self-esteem. If teachers say your child refuses to listen and is disruptive, it may be a sign of dyslexia.

About 60 per cent of dyslexic people also find it difficult to sort out the sounds within words.

WHAT TREATMENT IS AVAILABLE?

The best way to treat dyslexia is through specialist tuition.

Princess Beatrice was seven when she was diagnosed and the earlier dyslexia is diagnosed the better.

Studies have shown that many youngsters benefit from taking supplements of omega-3, an essential fatty acid found in oily fish. You can pick up EyeQ liquid, pounds 9.99, from Boots stores.

Computer programs that help to re-programme the brain can help and some sufferers are helped by reading with tinted glasses. Learning touch typing can also be a huge bonus when it comes to exams and spelling.

Parents play a crucial role too. The most important thing you can do is build up the damaged confidence and self-esteem of your child. Let them know that they're loved and that this love is not dependent on how well they do at school.

Reassure them that their difficulties are not their fault. Be very encouraging and find things they are good at.

WHERE TO GO FOR HELP If you suspect your child is dyslexic ask your school to make an appointment with an educational psychologist, who can make a diagnosis. The Dyslexia Institute Now the children were discussing their new play. 'We need a brave person for the mountain rescue,' explained the boy.

READ BY A DYSLEXIC AS

How the children were designing their new play. 'We need a brave man of the mount chishimse,' ixslating the boy.

Last night my cat did not come home and I was worried about her .

SPELT BY A DYSLEXIC ASLenaka might wy act don nof cone hone and I saw morreid chehat hen.also offers assessments for adults as well as children at their Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen centres.

It is also vital to learn as much about dyslexia as possible.

Log on to the Dyslexia Institute at www.dyslexia-inst.org.uk. You can contact them on 01784 222300. You can also contact Dyslexia Scotland on 08448 00 84 84 or www.dyslexiascotland.org.uk.

The future

MANY dyslexic people are original thinkers with good problem solving skills and there is a theory that the special way their brain is made up means they shine in fields such as the arts, theatre, design and computing.In a recent study nearly half of a sample of 300 successful people revealed they have dyslexia.

Sir Richard Branson, who made his first million aged 18, is one of Britain's best known dyslexics. 'I knew I wasn't going to pass my exams so I did other things,' he says. 'Being dyslexic means I am good at delegation.'

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ACHIEVER: Princess Beatrice has dyslexia
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 29, 2005
Words:853
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