Dyslexia is not a Disability

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How to engage the reluctant reader is a puzzle many parents would like the answer to. Like any puzzle some pieces go in smoothly and problem solved, but what if the pieces you have just don’t fit. The advice given, as a parent, is to read to your child every night, immerse them in phonics and sight words. What if you’ve tried all of the above and nothing works.

This is where I found myself with one of my children. He is now a teenager and still hates reading. After lengthy analysis it was found he had a processing disorder under the banner of dyslexia. This had me frustrated as the education system is heavily text based, even Math. How was he going to get through high school?

The answer is individual, case-by-case. For us, we celebrate his talents or play to his strengths. Once he was able to choose electives school became less laborious. He still has to get through English and large volumes of text are confusing and tiresome, but school is not all there is to life, and I show him example of others who have succeeded despite being dyslexic (or maybe even because).

Famous dyslexic writers:

W. B Yeats

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature struggled academically. His school report cards were poor and scholars who have studied his rough drafts have indicated he was dyslexic. He was known for his bad spelling and the inability to edit without reading out aloud repeatedly.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

He also had a great deal of problem with spelling and was kicked out of school at the age of twelve for his inability to focus and finish his work.

John Corrigan

When John’s mother questioned his teachers about his school -work the reply was “Just face it. Some kids are slow” he found the information going in was a struggle, but he could always push it out to make sense – he could write well.

 Patricia Polacco

Patricia did not learn to read until she was 14 and found school a very difficult time. She was fortunate enough that a teacher picked up her learning difficulty and she could adjust the way she learnt. Patricia went on to successfully complete a university degree.

Other writers include:

Agatha Christie, Jackie French, John Corrigan, Terry Goodkind, Hans Christian Anderson, Sally Gardiner.

Other notable dyslexics:

Tom Cruise, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, Sir Richard Branson.

These people can be inspiring, but I like the advice from author Rick O’Riordan whose son is dyslexic

“People who are dyslexic and who are successful understand that while dyslexia may define them, it doesn’t confine them. They understand the concepts of ‘work smarter,’ ‘think differently,’ and ‘I can.’”

And in summary the children’s author and illustrator Sally Gardiner who said “My brain was said to be a sieve rather than a sponge” (This is exactly how my son described his) “I strongly believe that dyslexia is like a Rubik’s Cube: it takes time to work out how to deal with it but once you do, it can be the most wonderful gift”.

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14 thoughts on “Dyslexia is not a Disability

      • Yeh, he’s a very bright guy but apparently he can hardly even spell his name. I love science. I would have loved to have learned about physics, astronomy and stuff but I have a bit of a block of some kind with numbers so I might as well have tried to write books in Martian – indeed, had I done so I’d have probably been more successful at it than I was at Maths. So yeh, other way round for me but I can sympathise.

      • I have a problem with numbers as well, I once worked in an accounting role balancing ATM’s haha. Not the job for me. while balancing I would make mistakes eg. customer removed $120 and I would type $210 it would take me all day to work out where I went wrong.

      • That’s me right there. The scariest part of my old job was doing the budget – I had a huge amount of National Express’s money to spend and I was absolutely petrified of cocking it up! Spread sheets saved my life there I reckon.

        Cheers

        MTM

  1. I feel like this is an important thing to remember with anything in our lives, especially those things labeled “disabilities.” We exist in a society that expects us to all function in the same ways — there’s a comic (http://weknowmemes.com/2011/10/the-educational-system-comic/) that touches on this. But we are all different, and have to learn how to work within this system (or around this system, or to change this system) in ways that actually work for us. It’s so great that your son has you, supporting and helping as he figured out how to navigate (and thrive) within a system that can be very challenging.

  2. I have some family members who were not diagnosed with dyslexia for an appalling length of time and I just want to say that it is absolutely possible to re-build that love of reading once the words actually make sense to your brain. I hope that your son is able to find some of those translation “switches” and that the horrible, frustrating parts of schooling are soon behind him.

    P.S. I’ve always thought that part of the reason Agatha Christie was able to plot as well as she did is that she was well aware of how easy it was to become confused by familiar words and perspectives being shuffled around in a non-familiar way.

    • We are getting there. It’s important to recognise that a brain that may not suit the school environment can succeed in the outside world- just like Agatha Christie.

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