People such as Albert Einstein, Tom Cruise, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Steven Spielberg, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Walt Disney and John Lennon all had or have something in common: dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a brain-based type of learning disability that impairs a person’s ability to read, write and spell, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. It’s also the most common reason for reading, writing and spelling difficulties.
As the above list of eminent individuals proves, dyslexia doesn’t affect a person’s ability to theorize, invent, act or create in world-changing ways. Neither should it affect those who may not revolutionize physics, but who still have something unique to share. People with dyslexia, in fact, almost always have normal or above-normal intelligence, yet that’s not what it’s going to feel like. If you’re a child sitting in a classroom, bewildered by words on a page, and all around you, your peers are taking in words as easily as breath, you’re going to feel pretty dumb. We can imagine the kind of damage that can do – how such thoughts can impair a person’s life.
I’m not one of those who believes that all neurodevelopmental disorders are disabilities. I believe people who are wired differently from “normal” people are wired differently from “normal” people and therefore don’t have to suffer from “typical brain” syndrome. But that’s another topic for another time.
My point here is that October is National Dyslexia Month. We all know there’s a month or day for everything. That can tend to give us Appreciation Day Fatigue rather than raise awareness. Let’s not do that with this topic. This is a callout to all of you within our community who have stories about dyslexia. Maybe you have dyslexia; maybe your child has been diagnosed; maybe you’re a teacher of children with dyslexia or a teacher in general. Whatever your direct experience with dyslexia, we’d like to hear about it. It would be especially interesting to learn about the coping strategies, given that there is no cure.
I know the election is right around the corner and we’re all pretty focused on that. But we’re hoping some of you will rise to this challenge. Letters are due by Monday at noon for that week’s newspaper edition. We’ll relax the limit of 350 words throughout October for those who write to illuminate us all about this important topic.