Population incidence of dyslexia

Conservative estimates are that one in ten New Zealanders has dyslexia, including 70,000 schoolchildren. This estimate is in line with international statistics, and supported by the only New Zealand research available, a DFNZ/Neilson survey of New Zealand education professionals.


  • In the US, renowned dyslexia researcher Sally Shaywitz (Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity) has found through MRI scans and associated research (including a longitudinal study started in 1983) that 16-22% of the population are dyslexic. However, only 10% are generally identified in school as those that are of high intelligence or with favourable circumstances are able to compensate and hit the academic benchmarks.
    To find out more about her other areas of research click here.

  • Barnard University research in the US estimates 6-10% of the population has a learning difference.

  • British Dyslexia Association figures show 4-7% of the population is severely dyslexic, and up to 20% mildly dyslexic.

  • The 2008 UK Government Foresight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project report noted that learning difficulties affected up to 10% of children. To read the full report click here.

  • The DFNZ/Neilson 2008 survey found that nearly all education professionals have taught a dyslexic student, with most teaching between one and three students a year, and more in secondary schools.

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