The Billionaire & the Gift of Dyslexia

August 31, 2017


This week on my Twitter feed I came upon an article that talked about a billionaire who felt that his dyslexia was a “gift” and the primary reason for his success as a businessman.

Look, I get it.

Dyslexics have an array of “gifts.”   In  my book, The Shut Down Learner, the essential theme is that kids (and adults) with dyslexia often have this incredible other side to them  – that is, the creative, spatial, visual side – that allows them to flourish in so many ways that often is not recognized in school.

In fact, in the back of the book I list about 50 different jobs and careers ranging from trades, such as automotive engineering, plumbing and landscaping, to professions, such as engineering and architecture, as well as a variety of creative endeavors, such as video production that tend to “pull” for dyslexics.

While I understand the “gift side,” I also think it’s important not to lose sight of the pain and the anguish that also comes with having a learning disability like dyslexia.

This week alone I evaluated three different kids, all at various levels of development, who turned out to be dyslexic.

Each child was fun, spirited and vibrant in their style, yet I also detected the deep insecurity and embarrassment that they felt relative to their struggling with reading, spelling and writing.

Take Mary Beth, age 10, a twin who detests reading (and spelling and writing).

For Mary Beth, not only is school a daily embarrassment that she quietly stifles in terms of keeping her feelings under wraps, but when she sees her twin brother blithely sailing along in school and where she feels like she is constantly running a race at a 45 degree angle (with hurdles) while everyone else is on a level track, she’s not feeling all that fortunate about “the gift.”

When I see a girl like Mary Beth who would normally  at her age love reading, saying she hates it and when I hear from her parents that there is almost a nightly ritual of tears and crying, I think that the billionaire’s view is a bit short-sighted.

Takeaway Point

Focus on the strengths and recognize the gifts, but you can’t ignore the pain.

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