Despite the near disabling aspects of it, it’s not a disability at all, rather an outstanding ability. Once it is discovered and nurtured, the brilliance of dyslexia will present.
I gleaned much information and encouragement at age 39 when I was diagnosed with the help of ATN Access Inc. If more were known about dyslexia when I started school in 1968, over time, my skills and passion for writing would have developed with less suffocating in my own defeatism.
In grade one I was terribly confused by the compound word into during the read aloud participation. I remember my tingling cheeks and swishing in my ears when the other kids started whispering the word with impatience. I also remember in grade three when I was sent to the office for “clowning around.” I wrote “Wook book fro Writinp” on the cover of my new notepad. I can still see that, it was bold, a black marker, because writing was something I wanted to do well. This happened frequently, and I was labeled as “a slow learner.” Outside of the classroom, sitting on the hall bench, I recall the coat hooks jabbing my head while an unknown adult tried to teach me math, but it was not unlike classroom instruction, just s-l-o-w-e-r. In the 60s and 70s, we kids with learning differences were just labeled slow and treated like someone ought to be there to scrape pudding off our chins at lunch.
To this day I write form instead of from, top for pot, left for felt, gob for dog and so on. I have edited reversed sentences also. I reverse numbers, too. Some days are worse than others. I write, though, and I accept the fumbling process. Autocorrect is mostly hilarious, but the spelling and grammar police on computers these days make it tolerable. Well, mostly. I do have to proofread my work repeatedly, then when I feel I’m finished with the challenge, I have my computer read it to me, still finding errors. So why is this learning disability called a gift? What’s to celebrate about dyslexia? C’mon—it’s devastating! Isn’t it? And it’s genetic, too? Don’t parents feel guilty passing this “affliction” on to their children? How can it be overcome? Or can it? Should it? Let’s sift through an article, “The Gift of Dyslexia,” I read back in 2003 by Alanna Mitchell. You can decide if being dyslexic is being gifted or ruined. Interestingly, the hemispheres of a dyslexic’s brain are more symmetrical than that of non dyslexic persons. Affected persons have difficulty reading; however, the symmetry is perfect for other complex brain functions involving images and three dimensions. Incredible photography doesn’t just happen, it’s a skill. Outstanding artists have the skill, too. Perhaps they’re not all dyslexic, but artistic imagery, even creative literary art is possibly a flourishing talent for those who are dyslexic. Another perk is excelling at spacial perception, like seeing the trick of optical illusions, and catching moving objects as small as a set of keys. Sports are played well by the ones with symmetrical brains.
Also, dyslexics do not seem to sort through information in a direct, sequential way, rather a variety of things are sorted at the same time, rapidly. This gives them the edge on strategy. Throughout history, many people who are now understood as having been dyslexic, made dauntless advances in science, art, music, politics, and sports. Among the greats are Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Alexander Graham Bell, and Winston Churchill. Incidentally, a little off subject, if you look these people up for ADD or ADHD and bipolar disorder, a lot of them will be listed as having them with dyslexia. Learning differences (brain variances) share within themselves, if that makes sense. If you know you have one diverse aspect, you probably have three. Also, some of our favourite authors have learning differences including dyslexia, like Agatha Christie and F. Scott Fitzgerald. There are many if you google “famous dyslexic authors.”
The sixteen-year-old, Nicholas Carson, featured in the article, “The Gift of Dyslexia,” didn’t read until he was twelve. He had reported that school was still difficult. It was said then that he thinks in pictures and the school was run by “word thinkers.” So he felt alone in his imagery thinking, yet understood he was also gifted.
The point is that dyslexics have a built-in three-dimensional imagination. They have multifaceted perceptions in varying situations. Try to understand that when a dyslexic carpenter is designing a building, they’re are able to visualize their plan, spin it around and explore all angles from the inside, although it’s troublesome to do this with flat objects like blueprints on paper.
Here’s an example. The letter b from a straight on view is a two-dimentional b. But from behind it’s a d. From above a p, and below, it’s a q. All of these variations are seen at the same time by dyslexics, hence the reading reversals and writing errors. On the other hand, a dyslexic’s stellar imagination can create a compelling story, novel, or poem. We record our mind’s eye imagery. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase descriptive writing.
Dyslexic persons are highly creative, imaginative, athletic, and artistic. It has been established that they calculate thoughts so quickly, they usually don’t understand how they arrived at an answer. This also goes for conversation whereas another’s thought is correctly interpreted before the person has finished explaining something.
Dyslexia then, to me, is a gift. Work with it, not against it, and the perks shine through. Please don’t imagine curing my reversals, they are my edge, as backwards as that seems. Understand my ways and accept they’re different. I’m not slow. I’m built for speed, and that sometimes slows me down.