In my business, the building business, I have long encountered dyslexic people. (Dyslexia broadly defined as having reading difficulties, not reading backward). When reading becomes a challenge to young students and it becomes visible to educators, they are often advised to get into a career that they can do with their hands, and for the most part, it can be a reasonable course of action, but there are many more alternatives to that.
Dyslexics can be very gifted people. People like Albert Einstein, Stephen Spielberg, Will Smith, Winston Churchill, Beethoven, Mozart, Whoopi Goldberg, John F. Kennedy, Steve Jobs and Leonardo Da Vinci are/were all dyslexics and extremely talented people.
One gift of dyslexic people is something that I saw for years but didn’t recognize it as a gift….more like an annoying pain. Many times a dyslexic person would come onto a job site and ask why something was the way it was, often a minor and detailed query. For years I would wonder what made them seem so negative, so critical. It was only after I read an article on gifted dyslexics that I understood the phenomenon that I was seeing. Dyslexics typically have an unusual talent for seeing things that are out of place, out of the ordinary. They see a big picture instantly and if something isn’t right, they see it right away. The highly literate person doesn’t see these things as they are talented at focusing on tiny letters and making sense of them, and that focus inhibits the ability to see the big picture. Dyslexics are ideally suited for many careers that are not hands-on work. For instance, they are ideal inspectors, as they see the out of compliance things instantly. They would make good security experts, detectives, supervising a production line, researchers, inventors and it goes on. They might not be great at writing reports, but they can be extremely good at many important career functions! Also, many dyslexics are talented artists because that “big picture” vision they have lends a perspective that is different from what literate people see.
Surviving without a talent for reading creates a set of brand new talents. This is from an article on the subject:
“They stretch the boundaries,” Brock Eide says. “When they read, they can’t just automatically match sounds and letters, so they use contextual cues and problem solving and no one may realize there’s a problem.” Dyslexic kids grow so good at problem solving, at finding alternative ways to compensate for the fact that they can’t read, that they become expert brainstormers. “Dyslexic children often become some of society’s greatest thinkers,” Brock Eide says.
That’s a pretty awesome talent that comes from compensating for a difficulty in figuring out the squiggles of letters. In a crisis, I would much prefer to be around a dyslexic than a highly literate person……the dyslexic will easily figure a way around the crisis while the literate person will get stuck trying to find a standard procedure for it!
All too often dyslexia is seen as a negative when it’s really just a different way of learning. It should be seen as the difference between one athlete being really good at basketball and another one being good at running. One is not better than the other, they are just different and all have their talents!