Youth Diaries: The Gifts and Challenges of Dyslexia
By Gracie Hart
At age 6, I started first grade. We were learning to read when I first realized I was different. I started noticing that I was behind with reading and writing compared to other kids. I was slower than my classmates. I thought I was a dumb kid up until age 12. At this time, I started noticing that I was getting severe headaches, dizziness, and nausea and that I was having trouble focusing every time I read. I stumbled upon an article about the symptoms of dyslexia. I was curious. The article said that if you had 10 or more symptoms, you were considered dyslexic. I had 25 of the listed symptoms. I was in shock. I had figured out that I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t dumb: I had dyslexia.
I wish I had found out earlier. In school, they grade reading and writing by how fast you can read and how many words you can memorize. This does not measure a person’s comprehension or intelligence. For children with dyslexia, this is torture. It is such a struggle because these skills are required in every subject. While people with dyslexia may read slowly, it doesn’t mean they don’t understand was is being read or taught.
I learned that a dyslexic person’s brain tries to “read” things in pictures. When I read the words “She was riding on her bike in the forest,” within milliseconds, I see the girl riding her bike in my head instead of the words. Basically, it is like a movie in my head. Automatically, I see every detail in 3D. I’m using my right brain for left brain things. I have a completely different perspective. For example, I mix up numbers and letters because they are just shapes. That’s what causes the headaches, disorientation, and other troubling symptoms. My brain is confused because it is trying to see the words as a picture or three dimensional object. Here is another example: the word “the” doesn’t have a picture so my brain has a mini freakout because it can’t find the image. Other symptoms include not being able to speak until later in age or having a stutter or speech problem, which I have also experienced.
I was happy to learn that dyslexia has tons of unique positives that should be made known to people with and without dyslexia. People with dyslexia see things as a whole. If someone mentions “salt water” in a conversation, I think of the ocean, the sand, the animals in the ocean, the people, the roads toward the ocean, volleyball nets, beach balls and so much more. I think this way in an instant, without trying. I read that a dyslexic person can think from 400 to 2,000 times faster than a non-dyslexic. Another positive is that dyslexics are very creative, especially when working with 3D objects. They make fantastic engineers, fashion designers, architects, scientists, and chemists—anything that needs a different perspective of thinking. I have experienced this benefit myself in my art, baking, decorating, and problem solving abilities.
A spectacular example of dyslexia being a blessing is Albert Einstein. He was dyslexic, and this was what made him so successful as a scientist. He grew up doing terrible in school, especially reading. He didn’t even learn to speak until a late age. He proved everyone wrong. His theories made possible many of the things we enjoy today. Without his great discoveries, our world would be completely different. He didn’t accomplish great things while happening to be dyslexic; He did these things because he was dyslexic. You could say people with dyslexia have changed and will continue to change the world.
Note: The authors name has been changed.
The author learned about dyslexia from the book The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald D. Davis.