Skip to content

Agribusiness News December 2023 – Management Matters: Learning Difficulties

30 November 2023

Seeing is not always believing

Many farmers and crofters struggled their way through school with reading, spelling, writing and maths, not because of lack of intelligence or work ethic but simply because their eyes and brains interpret things differently from each other.  If words move around or fade in and out on a page, you struggle with spelling and/or if you get maths calculations wrong when you know what you are doing, you could have a recognised learning difficulty such as Dyslexia, Meres Irlen or Dyscalculia.

Given the huge amount of administration that comes with running a modern farming business, don’t keep struggling on.  View getting help as no different from going to the opticians; it can be life changing.


Dyslexia Scotland has estimated that 1 in 4 people in the rural community have dyslexia.  As it can be hereditary; it often runs in families.   While common signs of Dyslexia are difficulties in learning to read, write and/or spell and often confusing your left from your right, about 60% of people with Dyslexia also struggle with numbers.

Dyslexia Scotland has an online checklist that can help you assess if you have dyslexia.

To raise awareness of the challenges many people involved in farming face with dyslexia during December, RSABI in conjunction with Dyslexia Scotland are offering farmers and crofters over 40 who have never been assessed for dyslexia, a free confidential professional assessment.  To arrange an assessment, please call the RSABI’s 24-hour freephone Helpline – 0808 1234 555.

An RSABI video on Dyslexia can be accessed here:

Meares Irlen Syndrome

Meares Irlen Syndrome/Visual Stress is where the visual cortex of the brain is unable to properly process visual information from the eyes due to sensitivity to certain wavelength  of light.

The most common difficulties experienced by people diagnosed with Meares Irlen are:

  • Reading text on white paper due to the brightness of the background.
  • Difficulty tracking lines of text when reading.
  • Eye strain and headaches.
  • Difficulty judging distances.
  • Problems identifying maths symbols correctly.

A formal diagnosis can be made by a specialist Orthoptist who can provide coloured acetates or coloured glasses to help alleviate some of the symptoms, making reading easier/more enjoyable.


If you have always struggled with numbers and often write down tag numbers wrong by mixing up the numbers, you may have Dyscalculia.

Dyscalculia difficulties apply to arithmetic but not necessarily to other areas of maths such as geometry and algebra.  Difficulties include undertaking maths calculations such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing plus difficulty understanding money, time, distances, and directions.

While there are many websites offering advice on coping strategies, the best advice is to tell friends and family that you have dyscalculia and ask them to help you with calculating dosages for stock, chemicals for spraying, banking, and budgeting and ask someone to double check the numbers when dealing with government forms and/or stock records.

Sign up to the FAS newsletter

Receive updates on news, events and publications from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service