Dealing with dyslexia

One CSP member in 40 has reported having dyslexia, about 60 delegates attending a one-day event at the society’s headquarters in London heard. 


It is unclear whether dyslexia is more prevalent among physio staff than in other occupations, and this figure is based on self-reported submissions from members. But taken at face value, it means at least 1,200 CSP members are affected to varying degrees by dyslexia.

Concerns about the issues facing students and other members were voiced earlier this year by delegates at the annual representative conference in Cardiff.

Karen Atkinson, who chairs the CSP’s equality and diversity group and is a senior lecturer in physiotherapy at the University of East London, said many educators in clinical settings provide excellent training for students with dyslexia.

But she warned that physiotherapy’s focus on being ‘scientific, credible and evidence- based’, can undermine how disabled students are seen by their qualified counterparts.

Referring to her research into practice-based educators’ training of disabled students, and particularly those with dyslexia, Ms Atkinson said a number of ‘attitudinal’ issues can affect the teaching
the students receive.

‘The first thought of some people when they know a disabled student is coming, is “What are the problems likely to be?”’ she said.

And Ms Atkinson said she sensed that some educators felt that there were barriers to disabled people becoming successful physios.

Ms Atkinson’s research found that practice-based educators want:

  • students to disclose their disability
  • information on their students’ disability in advance
  • more support from students’ universities

More could be done

Saraka Keating, CSP national officer for equalities, told Frontline she was particularly pleased that the Dealing with Dyslexia Day attracted managers and educators, as well as students and clinicians.

‘It was an eye-opening event. One delegate told me at the end that they had thought they were the only person in the profession with dyslexia. Another said they had a “lightbulb moment” when they realised dyslexia didn’t just affect reading and writing.’

Ms Keating said: ‘We have over 2.5 per cent of CSP members who have told us they have dyslexia. These members do not consider themselves disabled, but as having different learning needs.

‘Although every individual is different, dyslexic members have adopted numerous successful coping strategies and the CSP could do more to facilitate the sharing of this personal experience and expertise.’

Even though dyslexia is recognised as a disability under the 2010 Equality Act some members did not see themselves as such. But by joining the CSP disabled members network, people with dyslexia could receive peer support and guidance, she added.

Margaret Malpas, co-chair of the British Dyslexia Association, said people who suspected they might be dyslexic could find out more by visiting the association’s website at:

Once diagnosed, they were entitled to a workplace assessment and adjustments to assist them in undertaking their job, Ms Malpas added.

Dyslexia: useful links

For information on dyslexia support in the workplace visit the following pages:

Ian A McMillan

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