The Billionaire & the Gift of Dyslexia

August 31, 2017

Don't lose sight of the pain caused by dyslexia problems when focusing on the advantages.

This week on my Twitter feed, I came upon an article that talked about a billionaire who felt that his dyslexia was a “gift.” In his mind, it was 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. This allows them to flourish in so many ways that often are not recognized in school.

In fact, in the back of the book I list about 50 different jobs that tend to “pull” for dyslexics. These range 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.

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.

How does dyslexia affect everyday life?

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. However, I also detected the deep insecurity and embarrassment that they felt from struggling with reading, spelling and writing.

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

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

I see a girl like Mary Beth, who would normally at her age love reading, saying she hates it. 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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