Dyslexia affects approximately 5 - 10% of the population, and I'm one of them. It takes many forms with a collection of names, such as ADHD, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia to name but a few.
Dyslexic people share a collection of talents and natural gifts in common:
- We are highly aware of the environment around us and more curious than average
- We notice our environment using all of our senses
- We think mostly in pictures, with a few words. These pictures are usually in 3D and often in colour, and we can register these self created mental images in our brains, as if they are actually real
- We can experience a thought as reality, and have vivid imaginations (Walt Disney)
- We have wonderful memories for places, people and things we have actually experienced
- We think 35 times faster than a person who thinks with words, and are frequently called 'gifted' and 'intelligent' (Albert Einstein)
- We make excellent artists (Richard Taylor - Weta workshop, Orlando Bloom, Will Smith, Kiera Knightly)
- We are inventors (Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John Britten)
- We are creative (Jamie Oliver, Stephen Spielberg, Roald Dahl)
Also make good engineers, designers, trades people, builders, mechanics, sales and business people.
Thinking in pictures
Most people, 90 - 95% of the population, think primarily with the sound of words, with a few pictures. Language is composed of symbols, which are perfectly understandable for most people, but cause a dyslexic picture thinker issues, because they are looking at a word that has no associated picture. Words like: house, cat, tree, car, book, Mum, i.e. real objects, are easy. They have pictures attached to each one. Words like: the, and, in, then, off, am (and the list goes on) do not have pictures. This causes the dyslexic to often struggle with reading. It takes a lot of effort to de-code these symbols, and often we read with little comprehension, and therefore little retention of what we have read. We also tend to spell words as they sound to us.
How we learn differently
Our vivid imaginations take us on many journeys and they can be really exciting, so we often 'go away' or daydream when we get bored or the real world gets tough. It's more fun and a lot easier. We can easily lose track of time. We often get ourselves lost when travelling somewhere. These can cause us problems.
The bulk of teaching methods utilise a word thinking style, which works really well for the majority of the population. The way most people think is not how a dyslexic thinks. The way most people learn can be very confusing for a dyslexic.
How our brains work
Many correction programmes and all types of help are available for dyslexics. Some focus intently on more of what we struggle with anyway, like reading, writing and basic maths, which can feel rather like torture. Others use sounds and phonics. There are computer programmes with good graphics. Some endeavour to activate the part of the brain that dyslexic people seldom use - the part of the left temporal region (just behind the ear) which is the word forming area of the brain. My personal opinion is that this is a bit like taking a left-handed person and forcing them to use their right hand. When dyslexics read, they use the right side of the brain, in front of the ear, which is for non-verbal thought and analytical thought (pictures and imagination). However, those programmes which utilise the pictorial abilities of the brain can have incredibly positive results.
There is no 'cure' for dyslexia, the same as if a person has blue eyes, they cannot be changed to brown. No matter what the correction programme, a dyslexic will always be dyslexic - creative and imaginative. With help, we can learn to read and learn easily in a school situation, and participate fully in the workplace.
Davis Dyslexia Correction Facilitator