Dyslexia - the word itself is enough to make you want to hide. It sounds like a kind of a disease, like some chronic, complex disorder. The first thing I tell my clients who come to me with dyslexia is to disregard the word entirely, and to think of their condition as a gift, rather than a problem.
Scores of dyslexics have excelled in thir fields, rising above the rest through a combination of wit, talent, skill, intelligence and determination, providing that dyslexia does not consign a child to a life of poor achievement.
Consider the following list of well-known dyslexics:
- Walt Disney was labeled as a “slow child” in school and went on to become one of the most successful producers of all time.
- Steve Jobs was dyslexic, and today he is the CEO of Apple Computers and worth about $5.4 billion dollars.
- Thomas Edison’s teachers actually thought he was mentally ill, yet he was the most influential inventor of the late 19th-early 20th centuries.
- Nelson Rockefeller didn’t know the alphabet when he was nine years old, but that didn’t stop him from becoming the Governor of New York and the forty-first Vice President of the United States.
- Sir Winston Churchill failed eighth grade and hated school. Years later, he became the illustrious Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World World II.
- Henry Ford, John F. Kennedy and George Washington were all groundbreaking, talented individuals who were influential in changing the face of America, and all experienced dyslexia during childhood.
- Finally, Albert Einstein couldn’t talk until the age of four, and he couldn’t read until the age of nine. He even failed his college entrance exam. Still, he is considered one of the geniuses of all time.
Thus, children with dyslexia should never be dismissed as academic failures. With treatment and a healthy dose of self-confidence, they are no less capable of achievement than their non-dyslexic peers.
Dyslexic children usually experience trouble with spelling, writing, and reading, and sometimes struggle with numbers. They may have difficulty following instructions and processing what they hear. They also confuse left and right.
As a result of these difficulties, children with dyslexia meet with failure in school, often as early as the first grade. While everyone is reciting the alphabet and learning to read, these children find the letters incomprehensible. And while the other children are enjoying reading stories, these kids stare at the page blankly. To them, the words look like squiggles. The b’s look like d’s and the p’s look like q’s. Sentences don’t begin or end where they should. Dyslexic children also tend to reverse letters and words, such that “saw” becomes “was” and “bad” becomes “dab”. Understandably, these children often lose confidence and develop severely low self-esteem.
Parents who detect dyslexic symptoms in their child should have the child tested by a professional quickly, before self-esteem issues begin to surface. The many different levels of dyslexia and wide variety of symptoms can make accurate diagnosing difficult. Parents must therefore ensure to have the child examined by a qualified specialist in this area.
Parents must also realize that reversing letters and words is very common among non-dyslexic children, especially up until the age six. A child displaying such a tendency should be closely monitored to see if the problem persists as he or she grows older.
Once diagnosed, a multi sensory treatment program is usually recommended. This means teaching a child how to read and write through a variety of visual and non-verbal methods. In all likelihood, by the time a child is diagnosed he or she has developed a strong distaste for learning and strong resentment towards school. Care therefore must be taken to find the treatment method that best suits the child’s particular needs and tastes so that learning can once again become enjoyable and gratifying.
In many cases, the greater challenge in treating dyslexia is restoring the child;s self-confidence and fortifying his or her fragile ego. This can be achieved through activities such as music or art lessons, and by developing their personal interests and talents, be it business baking or basketball. Dyslexic children must be consistently praised for their achievements and encouraged to pursue their goals. And, they should be reminded from time to time that someday they may become the world’s next Albert Einstein.
People with dyslexia have special innate qualities and attributes that the rest of us cannot duplicate. Scientists are beginning to study this phenomenon in greater depth and the results promise to be fascinating. The day will perhaps come when we discover a direct correlation between dyslexia and super-achievement, and the condition will thus be proven to in fact be a gift, rather than a problem.