Dyslexia: The Unseen Disability

‘I’m not Dumb, I’m Just Different’, was the title of one captivating Engage Talk I listened to and I was moved. I was moved that there is an unseen disability. I was moved that probably so many parents condemn their children for poor performances yet they could just be victims of dyslexia. I almost thought that I suffered from dyslexia as I watched the Talk Show since I once had a mean grade of D- in my high school, yet I had been a diligent and industrious student. I brushed off that thought when I recalled of the jubilation than ensued once my final result was out. It was a whooping record in my entire ancestral lineage to the 7th generation antedated.

The word dyslexia is derived from the Greek word ‘dys’ (meaning difficult) plus ‘lexis’ (words or language). It is therefore a learning disorder characterized by difficulty in reading and processing information. It is usually a combination of slow auditory processing in the case of listening and poor working memory. Dyslexia occurs in children with normal vision and intelligence. It then progresses to be a lifetime thing.

Dyslexia is usually not due to mental retardation, brain damage or lack of intelligence but due to hereditary factors. Researchers have recently identified specific genes identified as possibly contributing to the signs and symptoms of dyslexia.

Approximately 15% of the American population is dyslexic. This is an equivalent of 30 million people in the United States, 6 million in the United Kingdom and 3 million in Canada.

What Are The Traits And Behaviors Of Dyslexics?

  • They appear bright and highly intelligent but are unable to read, write and spell at the same rate with their age mates in class.
  • They are labelled as lazy, dumb and careless and immature for their ages. Their teachers will always admonish them for ‘Not trying hard enough’.
  • They are talented in art, drama, music, sports, mechanics, story-telling, sales, business, designing, building and engineering.
  • They experience difficulty in sustaining attention (hyper or daydreamer)
  • They learn best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experiments, observation and visual aids.
  • They are confused by letters, numbers, words, sequences or verbal explanations.
  • They read and re-read with little comprehension.
  • Computing math shows dependence on finger counting and other tricks; knows answers, but can’t do it on paper
  • Excellent long-term memory for experiences, locations and faces.
  • Have poor memory for sequences, facts and information that has not been experienced.
  • Had unusually early or late developmental stages (talking, crawling, walking, tying shoes).

Positive Aspects of Having Dyslexia

  • They are highly aware of their environment.
  • Highly curious.
  • They think and perceive multi-dimensionally using all the senses.
  • Great intuition and insightful.
  • Have a superior reasoning capacity.
  • Possess simultaneous multiple thought processing.

Dyslexics are usually successful in a wide range of careers particularly science and research, psychology, architecture, mechanics, business and software design. These are only achieved when the dyslexic is tutored or accorded specialized education tailored to meet their comprehension and perception levels.

Entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Charles Schwab were all dyslexic.

“I seemed to think in a different way from my classmates. I was very focused on trying to set up a business and create something. My dyslexia guided the way we communicated with customers.”
Richard Branson.

People with dyslexia have the ability to see how things connect to form complex systems, and to identify similarities among multiple things.

“I recognized that I had dyslexia and then I realized I had this gift for imaging. I live in a world of patterns and images, and I see things that no one else sees. Because of dyslexia, I can see these patterns.”

“You can’t overcome it (dyslexia); you can work around it and make it work for you, but it never goes away. That’s probably a good thing, because if dyslexia went away, then the other gifts would go away too.”

Beryl Benacerraf, M.D., Physician. World-renowned radiologist and expert in ultrasound.

As we learn to live with the physically disabled, so should we learn to live with the dyslexics and enable them sail through their academic lives to attain their fullest potential.

And there is no better way to put this to an end other than by the words of this esteemed lady:

“We are the visionaries, inventors, and artists. We think differently, see the world differently, and solve problems differently. It is from this difference that the dyslexic brain derives its brilliance.” 
― Tiffany Sunday, Dyslexia’s Competitive Edge: Business and Leadership Insights and Strategies for Dyslexic Entrepreneurs, Business Owners, and Professionals.

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