Dyslexia is a learning disorder that effects a large portion of the population. Once it is diagnosed, it can be overcome, but undiagnosed it can prove to be a great hardship to people who have it, especially children in grade school who are trying to learn to read or do basic math. Dyslexia has recently been linked to genetics and to brain abnormalities. A lot of research and positive action is being conducted to help people, especially children, work around dyslexia so that they can function normally at school. However, not everyone sees dyslexia as a harmful thing. Many groups are dedicated to the creativity and artistic talent that usually goes hand in hand with dyslexia as well as many groups formed by dyslexics for dyslexics that provide support and an outlet for artistic endeavors. With research and new teaching techniques the effects of dyslexia can be overcome, but for some, that is not the goal.
Researchers have been working on finding the root of dyslexia for years. While it is still unknown why and how dyslexia occurs, a lot of advancements have been made. Dyslexia is now sometimes classified as a genetic brain anomaly. The anomalies in a dyslexic's brain impair how they perceive and therefore learn language skills. (3) It is still unclear where in the brain these anomalies would occur and to what extent. One of the theories, however, is that dyslexia is caused by anomalies in the brain's lipid metabolism. (3) The research is still very preliminary.
Dyslexia is first and foremost a language-based learning disorder. It is characterized by problems with single word decoding and usually is undiagnosed based on the age and level of school of the person suffering from it. (1) If caught when a child is young, kindergarten or first grade, the child can learn to overcome the major pitfalls of dyslexia with special learning techniques such as phonological training and become a strong reader and a strong student. Using multi-sensory techniques to teach children with dyslexia seems to be the most effective. By using all of their senses to learn and then to practice, children are "overlearning" in an effort to make up for their poor memory and initial confusion. (2) If the child with dyslexia is not diagnosed until after they have formed most of their reading habits, around third grade, the special learning techniques are not as effective. (1)
As dyslexia is becoming more main stream and losing some of the stigma attached to it as a learning disorder support groups made for dyslexics by dyslexics have become more and more common. These groups share methods for working around dyslexia and emotional support for those that suffer from it. Most of them also have special programs for parents or teachers of dyslexic children. These groups all stress the fact that it is highly possible to be dyslexic and still be successful. Some even have lists of famous people who have been reported to have learning disorders such as dyslexia. These lists usually contain the professions of those listed, further emphasizing the variety of ways in which dyslexic people can achieve success. The lists are usually very eclectic including such luminaries as Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, MC Escher and Whoopi Goldberg. (4)
Many of the support groups for people who suffer from dyslexia and their families also celebrate the positive benefits of dyslexia. Dyslexia makes language development difficult because it causes people to think in pictures. (5) For this reason, many dyslexics are very talented and creative artists. There are many websites for these groups that display the work of their members. They share painting, drawings, poems, stories, and other artwork from their members whose ages range from elementary school age to college students to adults. For many of the people who post their work with these support groups, dyslexia is the reason that they are artists. It is either their inspiration or the source of their talent. Either way, they comment on their need to have it but the conflicting hardships it causes. Karin Peri, a teenager, wrote a poem entitled "Dear Dyslexia" that perfectly exemplifies this inner conflict. (6) She writes:
Because of you
I see a different angle.
you make me who I am,
But what would life be without you?
A life free of constant frustration,
A chance to see things "correctly"
To say exactly
What I have to say
And write exactly
What I have to write.
But without you
Would I have anything to write?
Anything to say?
Would I have a poem?
Her words are echoed in the work of many of the other artists who post their work on these sites.
Though most dyslexics will admit that dyslexia has been hard and things would have been easier without it, especially school, there are some who embrace it and what it has to offer to them. With new teaching techniques that encompass more of the senses rather than trying to force dyslexics to learn traditionally, it will be easier for future children with dyslexia to hold on to the benefits that it can bring and still be successful in school. The proliferation of support and informational groups for sufferers, their families, and their educators continue to provide services and help to spread these practices.
3)Brooks, Liz. "Dyslexia: 100 Years on Brain Research and Understanding." Dyslexia Review Magazine. Spring 1997.
Comments made prior to 2007
We have a self-employment website
Which is open to all people on the autistic spectrum including people with Dyslexia who are welcome to put up a free listing, seek to form a skills group, find a work partner etc.
Its all free ... Donna Williams, 23 February 2006