Dyslexia The Gift
December has arrived and it’s the long awaited run-up to Christmas. The advents calendars are out in abundance, Christmas songs are making their yearly appearance and present exchanging is well under the way. As Christmas is the time of generosity and present giving, this year I have decided to share a very important gift: the gift of dyslexia.
Before I wrap and label this gift to you all, I wish to discuss and explain the more negative side of dyslexia. Ever since my diagnosis I have always struggled greatly to see positive or beneficial impacts dyslexia has had on my daily life. Sadly, I do believe I am not the only one who has possessed this viewpoint. It is well-known within human nature that it is far easier to predict and imagine a negative outcome of an event, compared to a positive result. Moreover, it is far easier to see the positive actions, gestures and personality traits in others, in comparison to ourselves. This negativity heuristic, or cognitive bias and shortcut, indicates that individuals may be pre-wired to view a situation as bad, unhelpful and detrimental. In relation to dyslexia, dyslexics may only ever consider the negative impacts dyslexia can have, such as difficulties with reading, writing, spelling, memory and organisation. This consistent pessimistic thinking can have drastic and highly damaging impacts on ones self-esteem and mental wellbeing.
Maybe it is time to ditch these tiresome thoughts. Browsing a bookshop one day I stumbled across one titled ‘The Gift of Dyslexia’. This immediately caught my eye amongst the mass of literature packed into the shelves. I was however sceptical and hesitant to believe this notion. My cynical nature got the better of me, so I left the book in its place. I walked a few paces away and suddenly thought “may be this could be useful”? I read the blurb and had a flick through the first few chapters. It certainly did grab my attention and gave me something to think about.
Written by Ronald Davis, ‘The Gift of Dyslexia’ both outlines and explains what dyslexia fundamentally is, whilst simultaneously emphasising the positives it can bring. Vitally, Davis recognises that all dyslexics are different and that generalising their strengths and weaknesses into a ‘one size fits all model’ is unhelpful. In addition, it is stressed that in order to recognise and celebrate ones gifts and talents the negative impacts dyslexia can bring must first be identified and accepted. Therefore, individuals must look into and consider dyslexia from a totally different angle than before.
Exceptional creativity, high levels of imagination, an ability to ‘think outside the box’ and empathy towards others who too are part of the neurodiverse community are just some of the area dyslexics excel. The main focus of Davis’s work, dyslexics are all unique and possess different gifts and talents. Possessing an above average intelligence level, individuals may hold an excellent memory for the weird and wonderful topics they find fascinating, such as Harry Potter trivia, or be exceptional artists, culinary creators or entrepreneurs. On numerous occasions a dyslexic individual may not knowingly be aware of their specific ‘gift’ or exceptional ability. In order to combat this, Davis stresses the importance of telling and informing individuals of their triumphs. From this, these gifts and skills can be celebrated, perfected and mastered. For Davis “the gift of dyslexia is the gift of mastery”. In this way, dyslexics have an uncanny ability to remember and learn without the need of conscious thought. This process of mastery is naturally occurring and often unconscious in dyslexics. It involves using multiple senses to pick up skills that are almost impossible to forget. Daydreaming and periods of ‘personal thinking’ time can then be used to transfer these unconscious thoughts into individual’s conscious awareness. This skill of mastery is an awesome ability to possess within one’s cognitive arsenal. Vitally, all dyslexics have the potential to possess and unlock these unique masterful gifts at various points in time during their lifespans.
Prior to delving into Davis’s book, I have to be brutally honest failed to see positives dyslexia has had on my own life. However, this is exactly what I am now starting to question challenge. I have been introduced to a whole new perspective, dimension and viewpoint in which to start considering dyslexia from. Although I still don’t think I’ve really found my ‘gift’ or mastered trait, I still have time to uncover the best of being dyslexic. It may not be an easy journey or smooth ride, but I am hopeful it will be a successful one. To sum up, I really hope that this has provided inspiration and rays of positivity for others who too may struggle see the positives and benefits dyslexia can bring.
Davis, R, D. (2010). (3rd ed). The Gift of Dyslexia: Why some of the Brightest People can’t Read and how they can learn. London: Souvenir Press Ltd.