Dyslexia is not a Disability


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”.