The gift of dyslexia

14 Dec 2013

People who have been dyslexic is the past have been accused of being lazy and stupid, however, in modern society those with learning difficulties such as dyslexia would bark at you for even trying to associate dyslexia with these terms. Despite this progress in trying to understand the nature of dyslexia, there is still room for society to view dyslexia not so much as a hindrance but rather as a gift. During the recent dyslexia awareness week in October, much of the campaign was focused on trying to change the perception of dyslexia, looking at the positive qualities that a person with dyslexia has, as opposed to focusing on the disability itself.

 

For many people such as myself, I wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until I was 16 and consequently struggled at GCSE level, only achieving 3 Cs. Unfortunately, the story of being diagnosed with dyslexia in college instead of an earlier stage in education is far too common. It shocks me that even today, in the 21st century, that this continues to be the case despite progressing technology and increasing awareness about dyslexia. Is it simply that diagnosing people with dyslexia in schools is seen as problematic and a strain on budgets? I would think that the younger the individual is diagnosed with dyslexia the earlier they will begin to understand the nature of the disability and develop coping strategies that will help them progress in society. This is why such organisations such as the British Dyslexia Association have now focused their attentions on rebranding dyslexia; no longer wanting to view it as a disability where you have trouble decoding texts, but rather as a gift.

When I got diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 16 I still had very little idea of what it was. However, over time I have been able to develop coping strategies that have allowed me to progress to study a master's degree. Even today, I have slight hiccups with written work. For instance, going through corrections of my essays I said to my disability support tutor (DST) ‘I feel useless’ to which my DST looked at me confused and asked ‘why?’, I replied ‘ because I am doing a master’s degree right? So why is it I am still struggling to understand how to use commas?’ But it is the focus on the positives of dyslexia rather than the negatives that have allowed me and many others to go far in education, despite having a learning difficulty.

A great encouragement about dyslexia is that it doesn’t affect a person’s intelligence. Many influential people such as Albert Einstein are said to have been dyslexic. Ron Davis explains in his book ‘the gift of dyslexia’ the assets that a person with dyslexia tends to have. Davis explains how dyslexics tend to be more curious and creative than the average individual. They are also more inventive and aware of their environment, which makes us better at everyday tasks. For instance, the dyslexic inventor Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. Dyslexics also have the ability to master skills faster than the average human. They are able to acquire new skills so deep that they can continue the task without thinking about it.

However, despite this awareness, even today, dyslexia attracts negative stigma which can arguably affect the individuals labelled with it. The BDA are trying to change public perceptions of how dyslexia is viewed, which is needed in order to allow individuals to flourish, however, there needs to be more awareness and support in schools. The sooner the individual is diagnosed with dyslexia the sooner they can get the support that will help them progress in their education. This is what is sorely needed in order for society to view dyslexia in a positive light, rather than simply a problematic disability.

By Beccie Ions

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