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Holly Willoughby recalls dealing with dyslexia as a child: 'I felt shameful'

Dyslexia Awareness Week takes place this week

Holly Willoughby hosts This Morning
Sharnaz Shahid
Deputy Online Editor
3 October 2023
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Holly Willoughby has been open about experience with dyslexia in the past, particularly when she was a child. 

Back in 2021, the 42-year-old spoke with William Carter - then aged 22 - who overcame being unable to read when he was 13 before going on to do a PhD at The University of California. 

Holly Willoughby on This Morning© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
Holly has been open about her experience with dyslexia

During their appearance on This Morning, Holly reflected on her own battle, which left her feeling "shameful".She explained: "For me, because I'm not very good at spelling, for years I felt shameful about that."

Holly's turning point was when she enrolled in college, saying: "Dyslexia is such a broad spectrum, people have so many different forms of it. Yes, I'm dyslexic also and I had to find my own tool kit and for me it was finding somebody who understood this who could teach me how to access those tools because at school it wasn't really that well known then."

Last year, during a chat with Sir Richard Branson, who is also dyslexic, Holly touched on her experience with dyslexia, claiming she does not see the learning difficulty as a "disability".

holly willoughby floral dress on this morning© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
The TV star has opened up about what it was like when she was a child

"I think it makes me who I am," she said, adding: "I don't see it as a disability at all, I see it as a real feather in my cap. I'm very proud of being dyslexic, I think it makes me who I am. I think half of the things I think that I'm actually quite good at in life are because I'm dyslexic." 

WATCH: Holly Willoughby's home life and career

Holly, who is a mother to three young children, has been open about her dyslexia in the past. The TV star once revealed that she checks the autocue in advance and uses coloured scripts to help her present This Morning.

How to spot if your child has dyslexia

The symptoms of dyslexia vary from child to child and can also differ according to the child's age. The NHS divides the signs of dyslexia into pre-school children, children aged 5-12 and teens:

Preschool children

  • Delayed speech development
  • Speech problems like pronunciation of long words, jumbling phrases or problems expressing themselves through speech
  • Finds learning the alphabet difficult and little understanding of rhyming words

Children aged 5-12

  • Finds learning names and sounds of letters difficult
  • Inconsistent spelling
  • Confusion over letters that look similar and the order of letters in words
  • Slow reading and slow writing speed
  • Poor handwriting and issues copying written language
  • Struggles to carry out a sequence of directions and to learn sequences
  • Has poor phonological awareness


In addition to the above, teens may display:

  • Finds planning and writing essays difficult
  • Attempts to avoid reading or writing
  • Has difficulty revising for exams, as well as taking notes or copying
  • Problems with spelling
  • Struggles to meet deadlines

She has also previously shared her concern that her children will be dyslexic too. "I do bear it in mind quite a lot," Holly told Glasgow's Sunday Post. "Although my mum hasn't been officially tested she has very similar tendencies to me.

holly willoughby reading with son© Photo: Instagram

The TV star is a doting mum to three young children

"I don't know whether that's hereditary or not, but I do think about that. Schools are so much more advanced in looking out for it than when I was at school."

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