Driving with Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a lot more common than generally thought with about 10% of people having it to some degree. It is more serious for about 4% of the population. It often occurs as part of a series of Specific Learning Difficulties. These might include Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and ADHD/ADD.

All this makes learning to drive harder. Someone with serious dyslexia will probably have had it diagnosed at school.  The less serious ones will quite often show up by confusing left and right. Other ways this might come out are:

  • Weak short term and working memory (holding on to and applying information).
  • Auditory processing: taking on board what is being said quickly.
  • Difficulty with focusing, easily distracted.
  • Visual distraction, visual memory issues.
  • Slower processing speed in the brain.
  • Sequencing problems: getting information in the right order.

Practical way of dealing with all this are:

For the left/right problem. Coloured sticker on the steering wheel. Red left and Green right. This is the standard port and starboard colours.

Start instructing “red left red”, “green right green”.

In general keep the instructions simple. Chunk, break things down.

Speak slowly.

Sometimes rhymes or pictures can help. Vivid is good. For example for the blind spot check “kiss the parrot”. Visual training aids can be very useful.

Give them time.

Repeat as often as necessary.


For Theory Test:

If you can back it up with a professional diagnosis when you apply you can be given extra time and a voice over.

For The Practical Driving Test:

Reading the number plate.

This could be difficult. You could write it down for the examiner if necessary. If visual stress makes reading it awkward. You might find it easier to read a rear number plate which is yellow. The number plate test should be easy. Make sure you can do this with an instructor first.

Independent driving.

You should discuss with your instructor what can be done. Most tests will use a SatNav. Practice with your instructor and identify any problems.

Depending on the severity of the dyslexia backed up by professional diagnosis.  This will dictate the amount of accommodation that can be allowed for on test.