March 22, 2012

The Upside of Dyslexia

Dyslexia -- the word itself is difficult to read. But dyslexia has an upside, like many things that get the bad stamp, this "learning disorder" should be redefined to include the positive side.

I have a son with dyslexia. I also have a hubby with dyslexia. I am relieved that research is finding a gifted side for those with dyslexia. My husband has always claimed that he can see the big picture in difficult engineering tasks. True, he suffered in the reading department as a child, especially since no one recognized it as dyslexia. Many kids were made to feel stupid or slow. Many still feel that way. But they shouldn't. They are gifted in other ways.

The word "Dyslexia" comes from the German root dys (difficult) + Greek lexis (speech)

It's a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols. (p, d and b all look the same). It's like looking at a chair, held upside down, lifted into the air. No matter which way it is held, it's still a chair. That's why the p, d and b all look the same to the dyslexic.


It has nothing to do with intelligence. In fact, many have a high IQ and are gifted in the arts and sciences. Look at the likes of Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Leonardo de Vinci. 

Here's the good news:

Research has found that people with dyslexia have an enhanced peripheral vision; it's called absorbing the "visual gist". They see images in the periphery that are missed by regular people.

This gift enables the dyslexic to solve difficult images faster (like the images of Escher, that depicts impossible pictures of stairs or flowing

Another study found that graduate students with dyslexia can learn and make use of difficult astronomical images whereas non-dyslexic students were unable to catch on. They concluded that dyslexics may be superior learners. 
"Dyslexics also tend to be more curious, creative, and intuitive than average. They tend to be highly aware of the environment, inventive, and good at real world tasks. Their special mode of thought also produces the gift of mastery: once they have learned something experientially, they understand it on such a deep level that they know how to do things intuitively without thinking about how." (ref)
Some parents of dyslexic kids didn't appreciate this new discovery, mainly because of the struggle to help their kids learn to read. (New York Times)

From my perspective, public schools are not adept at teaching kids with dyslexia, and that's one reason I homeschooled my son. I worked with him for years, using many different programs, and we avoided all scenarios of failure. And we had success. And now I can appreciate his other talents of creativity and visual gist. See the available programs we used for dyslexia here.

Deila Taylor jumped into homeschooling 16 years ago with her third child, thinking it was only going to be for the middle school years.  Now, with her fifth and last child in high school, who has never seen the likes of a traditional school, she has become an avid supporter. She blogs homeschool stuff at Mormon Homeschool and life at Eve Out of the Garden.

5 comments - Add a comment below -:

Gina said...

Wonderful post! I never knew the "why" behind dyslexia, thank you for helping me learn something new!

My son is on the autism spectrum and I can definitely identify with this mindset. He learns differently, he sees the world differently. But he's not stupid or slow. In fact, in some areas, he's frighteningly brilliant.

The more voices we have preaching about this topic, the better, in my opinion :)

Birrd said...

THANK YOU for this post! I totally see my son here. I'd seen the negatives, but not the positives. I'm really grateful you posted this.

Mama Rachel said...

I agree with Gina! It's great to be reminded that our kids who think differently are not "handicapped," just gifted in different ways. (I have two kids with Asperger's, too.)

I heard a lecture on dyslexia at a homeschool conference taught by a homeschooling dad with dyslexia. The idea of dyslexia being a gift has stayed with me, and taught me a lot.

Great post!!!

Deila Taylor said...

Thanks for the comments. It is a comfort to know that dyslexia has some good things. We have had a lot of success now, but my husband sure suffered through "grammar school". His mom even thought he was slow and not very bright!

Amy said...

My 7 yo daughter is profoundly dyslexic. We were expecting it because her birthdad was also dyslexic. I enjoyed being reminded of thr strengths. One thing that most people do not know about dyslexia is that in order to be diagnosed as dyslexic you have to also show a pattern of strengths . The very sad thing about dyslexia is that 1/5 kids have it to some degree. Researchers knew in the 90's that it can be diagnosed with an up to 98 percent accuracy at age 4. Unfortunately, most schools will say to wait and see - which is illegal. By the time the child hits fourth grade so much damage has been done to their self esteem and their peers keep learning vocab at a faster rate making it virtually impossible for the child to catch up. Some counties base prison cells on the number of non readers in fourth grade.

Dyslexia also is starting to be called the dyslexias - bec there are at least 10 different types. My dd also has dev dyspraxia, dysgraphia, childhood apraxia of speech, dysnomia, etc. The very sad thing is that what works for one child will not always work for another. We are starting Fast ForWord next week ($2100) and we have already tried so many other programs. Because I have three special needs kids - all extremely different I have access to some of the leading experts and we email back and forth.

I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who literally shouted in my heart that she was not to go back to school three weeks into this school year. I had never considered homeschooling and out of my three she was the hardest at the time. But the prompting was the strongest I have ever had. Within a week my bright eyed happy girl was back - and we realized that we hadn't seen her this way since preschool.

Dyslexia has been our hardest challenge. My oldest was dx with Asperger's bf anybody knew what it was and there were no books at the library on it. He is now considered recovered and I thought for sure the school would know how to handle dyslexia. I was told the state of VA does not believe in dyslexia. I would not back down and on the last day of school - 20 IEPs later, they finally could not challenge us anymore because her IQ was 140 but she could not get past the letter e in the alphabet and this was after three years of preschool and full day kg. we started the kindergarten year with a dx already.

I have a child with a life threatening rare disorder (congenital adrenal hyperplasia) and a toddler that is missing part of her brain and is being worked up for spina bifida, but I think dyslexia is the hardest to deal with, at least at her level on the spectrum. She thinks she is dumb bec she can't read but she is amazing in athletics and art and can answer any q after I read to her.
Wow - didn't know I had so much to say on the subject. We LOVE homeschooling and I will hs my toddler as well (she has taught herself to read). I am thankful that you posted the strengths. Dyslexia is hard because the public really has not been educated about it. I believed every single myth until reading Sally Shaywitz's book (Yale researcher).

I am also thankful for this board. I have incorporated so much more of the gospel into every day and into school, which I would not have thought of. Praying bf school and then doing scripture journaling in the new testament hs made a world of difference. If we forget she will always meltdown at some point but then remember that we have not prayed. Thanks again ladies!