Delving into Diversity: Dyslexia

Guest post from Caroline Uncles, PhD Research Engineer at the Centre of Doctoral Training MiNMaT

Only 3% of people see dyslexia as anything other than a disadvantage.

Where an education system is set up to disadvantage people with dyslexia often leaving them feeling very frustrated. The common question asked during those school years is Why do my peers succeed when I seem to fail? Why can’t I just reach the same mark as everyone else? For many, we spend all our time focussing on what we cannot do, which negatively affects our mental health. But what if instead of delving into all the disadvantages we looked beyond at all the advantages. 

Dyslexia is a difference in the brain, it’s a neurodivergent condition. Basically, people with dyslexia have brains that are wired differently. It is a processing difference in the brain, information just takes longer. Like all neurodivergent conditions, it is a spectrum, with no two dyslexic people the same. Other characteristics are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory, and verbal processing speed. Co-occurring difficulties may also be seen including aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration, visual comfort, and personal organisation. People with dyslexia use 5 times more energy to process information than someone who does not.

But what if we highlight the attributes, what do those even look like? Would that mean that we could have more than 3% of people seeing dyslexia as anything other than a disadvantage?

The superpowers of dyslexia are often easily seen, but quickly overlooked. So let’s delve into them now.

  1. Problem-solving skills: People with dyslexia think differently, they can think simultaneously connecting ideas through different routes rather than straight-lines. Coming up with solutions that others take longer to get to.
  • Seeing the big picture: People with dyslexia often see things more holistically, they can see past the details to gain a strategic view of a subject or problem. This lends its self to entrepreneurship, so unsurprisingly many entrepreneurs are dyslexic.
  • Improved pattern recognition: This for people with dyslexia allows them to see how things connect to form complex systems. As well as being able to identify similarities among multiple things often ones which might be abstract to someone else. People with dyslexia often flourish in science and engineering disciplines for simply being able to recognise patterns.
  • Great at empathising with other: often the resulting difficulties of reading and writing make dyslexics sincere and more empathetic to others who may struggle.
  • Imaginative and Creative: Dyslexics view the world differently to others, this is often coupled with them showing curiosity and interest. They can reimagine something or just imagine something new. 40% of self-made millionaires are dyslexic.
  • Abstract thinkers: Don’t worry hope is not lost, when it comes to people with dyslexia, they can comprehend abstract ideas. They can understand concepts which are not always tangible.
  • Great at conversations:  Reading words can be a challenge but reading people is not. When interacting with people dyslexics often read those around them, making them considerate of other people’s thoughts.  They can often tell you exactly what the problem is and how you can solve it too.
  • Astutely analyse information been told them: Dyslexics have strong spoken language comprehension, they constantly analyse and question information they are given, often keeping tracking especially if it is a story.
  • Passionate and inquisitive: People with dyslexia are passionate and inquisitive, often self-driven to get to a deeper understanding of how things work. They can have a great enthusiasm for a subject, which unintentionally comes across as annoying.
  1. Verbal Communication: This may seem surprising but for people with dyslexia, though written communication can be a challenge, verbal communication isn’t.  Often, they can simplify, craft, and convey clear messages to others.

So, if dyslexia is truly that much of a disadvantage then how come 50% of employees at NASA are dyslexic. The world today has been built and inspired by many who are dyslexic and that is only going to continue, so be aware of the big thinking and small typos or curious thinking and curious spelling. A person with dyslexia may just be able to help you with your problem.

Famous people with Dyslexia: Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Richard Brason, Tom Cruise, Leonardo da Vinci, Walt Disney, Jim Carrey, Sally Gardener, Whoopi Goldberg, John F Kenndy, George Washington, George W Bush, Steven Spielberg, Pablo Picasso and so many more

Thank you to Caroline Uncles for writing this post. If you’d like to contribute to this blog, please fill out this form to express your interest.