The more I learn about dyslexia, the more advantages I see to those who are dyslexic. Not to undermine the struggles that come with the condition, but the abilities of dyslexics are valuable and worth celebrating. This week Reading Horizons will focus on the strengths of dyslexics and the value they can offer to society.
One dyslexic who learned how to embrace his condition and use it to his advantage is actor Orlando Bloom. The President of the Child Mind Institute, Harold Koplewicz, recently interviewed Orlando Bloom about the impact dyslexia has played in his life.
As a child Bloom admitted to feeling stupid and frustrated with the ability. During his interview he said: "It was a struggle. It was a lot of work… I had to work three times as hard to get two-thirds of the way… I was frustrated with that learning disability. It makes you feel stupid."
At the age of 7 he was diagnosed with dyslexia, a step he found to be a great blessing. His diagnosis helped him realize he wasn’t stupid. He was lucky to receive his diagnosis during an era that realized the value of the dyslexic mind. Had he received his diagnosis during earlier generations he would not have received uplifting news. In the past dyslexia has been undervalued and often deemed its possessors as not being “normal.” Luckily Bloom was able to view his dyslexia as a gift. Dyslexia truly can be a gift. It does present dyslexics with struggles but with those struggles come exceptional brain functioning. The unique structuring of the dyslexic brain provides dyslexics with several strengths: creativity, reasoning, problem-solving, and empathy.
Bloom explained how dyslexics can use their unique brain to their advantage: "Creativity is the key for any child with dyslexia, or for anyone for that matter. Then you can think outside of the box… Teach them anything is attainable."
Bloom gained his success by focusing on his strengths rather than his weaknesses. In his interview he offered dyslexics advice for making the most out of the situation: don’t be ashamed and see dyslexia as an opportunity. In his own words: “Take this obstacle and make it the reason to have a big life."
Because of the struggles that dyslexics face with reading and writing, it is easy for these individuals to belittle their worth and intelligence. However, dyslexics often have higher than average IQ’s. The dyslexic brain is different in structure than the typical brain, however, this brain structuring does not impact cognition, IQ, or intelligence. In fact, researchers at the Child Mind Institute are finding a link between dyslexia and success.
There are several dyslexics that have thrived and found great success by working with their dyslexia rather than against it, including: Tom Cruise, Whoopi Goldberg, Jay Leno, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Edison.
Dyslexics can find success and offer so much to the world. In order to do this they must learn to overcome the difficulties it presents so they can focus on using their strengths. Bloom added: "It's not something that ever goes away… you learn how to manage it.” Dyslexics can learn to manage the reading and writing difficulties they face with interactive and multisensory phonics instruction.
Free Dyslexia Webinar: “Dyslexia: From Symptoms to Solutions,” presented by Reading Horizons Dyslexia Specialist, Shantell Berrett.