The upside to dyslexia

Nearly one in ten humans in the world have dyslexia. Some of the most intelligent and revolutionary people in history have dyslexia, likely including such notable figures as Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Tom Cruise, Steve Jobs, and Albert Einstein. Over half of the NASA team are diagnosed with dyslexia, and, according to CEO Magazine, “In a survey of 69,000 self-made millionaires, 40% of entrepreneurs were found to show signs of dyslexia.” 

As you can tell, dyslexia can lead to extraordinary accomplishments. But what exactly about dyslexia causes this?

The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia thusly: “Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.” 

Junior Learning says that “[people with dyslexia] find themselves making great use of their imaginations as their way of processing and understanding information. This activates the areas of the brain that most people do not frequently use.” 

3D medical animation still showing differences between normal brain and
dyslexic brain

Because people with dyslexia are able to use said part of the brain more frequently, it leads to a high level of problem-solving skills. 

“Rather than being a sequential thinker going from one idea to the next, many dyslexics thrive in environments that allow and foster simultaneous thinking in which ideas are connected via different routes than a straight line. This is why we see so many entrepreneurs with dyslexia,” according to the University of Michigan’s Dyslexia Help.  

When you think of dyslexia, you probably relate it to education. Dyslexia is sometimes misunderstood, and at an early age can even be misdiagnosed as a behavioral concern. 

At early stages in childhood, how a student with dyslexia is supported is extremely imperative. Director of the ELC Ms. Nichole Pugliese and ELC Instructional Specialist, Ms. Julia Salamone agree that noticing and properly supporting students with dyslexia at an early age is vital. 

“If you’re in a system that supports you, that’s successful, but if you’re in a system that constantly makes you feel bad about your learning difference, then you will feel like you are somehow robbed of something,” Ms. Pugliese said.  

How dyslexia impacts your life is reliant on how it is taught. Learning can still be a struggle and it can sometimes be challenging for students to get ahead. 

“Dyslexia is like speaking a different language almost because the way you perceive the world can be very different from others,” said an anonymous Fourth Former. “But unlike other languages, it’s not something that other people who don’t have dyslexia can just learn, so instead of them being able to adapt to me in some ways, I have to fully adapt to the world which I try my best at but it doesn’t always work 100% of the time.” 

“Dyslexia is like speaking a different language almost because the way you perceive the world can be very different from others”

anonymous Fourth Former

Many different learning programs teach students with dyslexia how to unlock their abilities. One of these programs is called Wilson

According to Wilson Language’s website, “Wilson programs utilize research on effective instructional content and practices to ensure students become proficient readers and writers.” 

As a former Wilson student, I can confirm it is true. Wilson is a systematic and integrated program for decoding and encoding. The program focuses on teaching students the basics of language. In my experience, a lot of sensory and interactive learning was incorporated to enhance memory along with learning the written language—which provided liveliness and built a passion for language as a whole. 

Creative thinking, however, isn’t the only special skill dyslexia can ensure. People with dyslexia may have very good spatial reasoning when it comes to images. This skill comes in handy within the design industry, engineering, architecture, and more. Additionally, dyslexia could possibly help with conversational skills and a high understanding of story elements like plot when read aloud to a dyslexia student. According to author Gail Saltz who wrote, The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius, people with dyslexia have proven to show higher levels of compassion. 

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge embarked on a study to discover the evolutionary side of dyslexia. The study found that dyslexia was, at one point, a vital trait that allowed early humans to develop new technologies, and these enhanced problem-solving skills allowed them to survive and adapt to a changing world.

Dyslexia can lead to amazing life skills. When discovered at an early age, a student can be taught how to embrace dyslexia’s many gifts. When a person with dyslexia has a prosperous education, they can take the skills they learned and use the advantages to succeed. 

Dyslexia is a true advantage.