I wrote this article for the U.K. Press commemorating U.K. Dyslexia Awareness Week, November 7-13.
Winston Churchill, Richard Branson, John Lennon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Picasso, Jackie Stewart, Agatha Christie, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael Faraday, Henry Ford, Ted Turner, Walt Disney, Harrison Ford, John F. Kennedy, Orlando Bloom, Enrico Caruso and an estimated one out of five people on the planet have one thing in common …Dyslexia. Have you ever dialed the wrong phone number because you reversed two numbers? Ever read a paragraph and not completely understand what you just read? Ever write or type a word using letters out of order, have trouble balancing your check book, spell poorly; these are all forms of dyslexia. Most people have a mild case of it, while others suffer to extremes seeing letters that appear to be backwards and even upside down. Richard Branson struggled through school as his dyslexia was a cloud that followed him, but never rained on his creative genius. In school, he started his own student newspaper that linked many schools together. By selling advertising to major corporations and having articles that crossed all walks of life it became the stepping stone to a huge success financially and more importantly giving Richard the confidence that he could do anything. Take for example, these surprising quotes: “I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the beginning of the race.” --Winston Churchill “He told me that his teachers reported that . . . he was mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams.” --Hans Albert Einstein, on his father, Albert Einstein. “I, myself, was always recognized . . . as the "slow one" in the family. It was quite true , and I knew it and accepted it. Writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me. My letters were without originality. I was . . . an extraordinarily bad speller and have remained so until this day.” --Agatha Christie “My teachers say I'm addled . . . my father thought I was stupid, and I almost decided I must be a dunce.” --Thomas Edison “My problem was reading very slowly. My parents said "Take as long as you need. As long as you're going to read, just keep at it." We didn't know about learning disabilities back then.” --Roger Wilkins, Head of the Pulitzer Prize Board Dyslexia can slow you down but not stop you from your goals. Understanding what it is can be most enlightening. I struggled in elementary school and my reading comprehension was terrible. I was isolated from the main students and put in special classes for slow readers. I remember being forced to read short stories and then answering questions about what I read, but I found a way to cheat. I would read the questions first, and then skim the story for the answers focusing on key words. I never knew I had dyslexia until I discovered it reading a medical journal when I was about 25. I had no idea that it was even a problem. I just thought I was slow, which turned out to be wrong. I have learned to compensate for my dyslexia by creating tricks to get around it. When I deal with numbers, I read the numbers in groups to add a flow of words. So a number of 151 becomes one hundred and fifty one, and not one-five-one. By saying it this way, instead of saying each number separately, it locks in the numbers for me in a melodic flow and stops me from transposing them in a different order. I can read magazines and newspapers quite well because of the smaller columns. But when a line of print is long, I tend to get lost and actually bring up words from other sentences to join the one I am reading, thus making what I just read, incomprehensible. Recently I successfully wrote a book as a challenge to overcome my problem. The story came easy because I had just purchased my first Harley Davidson. The experience of riding a motorcycle again for the first time in 30 years, combined with everyone telling me I was going through a mid-life crisis dictated the story line as I combined a tale of murder, terrorist secrets, the FBI, and a 15 year old computer genius. The result was RIGBY’S ROADS. The story idea came easy, but it was the editing that drove me crazy. It was a very cathartic experience. What is dyslexia? Dyslexia is a problem of neurological origin in a person, for whom there are no other physical, medical, or psychological conditions sufficiently serious to account for the language handling deficits. Who has it? Anybody can have it, and, yes, it often runs in families. Conservative estimates vary between 6 and 20 per cent of the population. No correlation has been found between the incidence of dyslexia and nationality, income, ethnicity, race, or IQ. What causes it? A dyslexic person is using the right hemisphere of their brain instead of their left to read and spell. The two most important contributors to dyslexia are an underutilized left-hemisphere, and an out-of-whack central bridge of tissue in the brain, called the corpus callosum. The left side of the brain can match a letter with its sound and handle information that comes into your brain in strings, like the sounds in a word. The right hemisphere is different. It deals in areas of space and patterns. It doesn't understand parts of speech, or keep track of letter-order in spelling. Do you think you might be dyslexic? Think your child may be? Want to learn more? http://www.worldofdyslexia.com http://www.dyslexia-parent.com http://www.dyslexia-teacher.com http://www.dyslexia-adults.com http://www.dyslexia-college.com http://www.dyslexia-test.com http://www.dyslexia-magazine.com http://www.dyslexia-journal.com http://www.dyslexia-certificate.com http://www.classroom-assistant.net http://www.dorecenters.com http://www.schwablearning.org/index.asp http://authorsden.com/rigby