Putting a Positive Spin on Dyslexia
Updated: Nov 30, 2018
Adhering to the negativity bias outlined in the previous post, I initially found thinking and writing about the positive of dyslexia more difficult than discussing the negatives. To be totally honest I had to really sit down and think hard about the benefits it has provided me with. However, I then made myself think more simply about dyslexia (as I usually drastically overcomplicate things) and I came up with some pretty valid points that I wish to share.
Crucially dyslexics become experts in developing their own compensatory strategies, coping mechanisms and general dyslexia ‘life hacks’. As stated when outlining my dyslexia story, I have spent the last eighteen months amending and perfecting my own coping strategies. For me personally, repetition and overlearning of concepts, routines and facts are absolutely vital. For example, I spent well over a month ritualistically proofreading my masters dissertation, a 15,000 word empirical qualitative report, and spent a month revising for my driving theory test until I got sick of hearing/reading about road signs, contraflow systems and road etiquette. Whilst proofreading myself, I also had two other people helping with the proofreading process as I was worried I would miss glaringly obvious errors.
Furthermore I have developed a proficient system of revising in a way that suits me. This is done by making flashcard cards and spider diagrams and by verbally repeating facts and information until I can recall them back verbatim. Using these strategies I developed whilst at sixth form and university, I was able to pass my theory first time reasonably comfortably. These processes of repetition and overlearning are common amongst dyslexics who struggle with memory. Overlearning acts like a ‘safety net’, as when you recall information to yourself, it proves that the information has been retained and understood. Although it is time-consuming and laborious this is a major positive for dyslexics as individuals can memorise information short term; which is ideal for exams and job-based tasks. Thus, although initially memory issues can be seen as a huge negative of dyslexics it can be swiftly turned into a major positive. It has abled me to understand how I learn effectively and, consequently, has uncovered how I can help others with their learning too.
The second positive is based solely around personality traits. Although I often feel that I have to work twice as hard as other non-dyslexic people when completing tasks, my dyslexia has unconsciously required me to develop beneficial personality traits including perseverance, resilience and sheer bloody determination. These key traits have enabled me to complete my master’s degree and continue learning to drive, despite the fact I’m still finding it horribly difficult. Such traits are present in a lot of other dyslexics that I see around me. Never underestimate a dyslexic! If we have a set-back, these key characteristics carry us forward to help us to continue in our quest to unlock our potential. Sympathy and empathy, two personality characteristics that in my opinion are hugely underrated, are also viewable in many dyslexics as we can understand and relate to others who may share the same difficulties. Empathy is slightly different to sympathy. Sympathy is where a person shows compassion and consideration to another person. Empathy however, is a more developed and intimate trait where a person is understanding of another person’s thoughts or feelings and can put themselves in their position.
A classic line that I have now adopted is empathy is ‘putting yourself in another person’s shoes but leaving your socks on’. ‘Leaving your socks on’ is crucial because you are able to put yourself in another person position, but leaving a small part of yourself behind so you don’t became fully engrossed in their world. This enables you to both help a person but also protect yourself at the same time. Subsequently, developing sympathy and empathy are positive vital traits in all areas of life, but they are even more crucial and prevalent within the world of neurodiversities.
Thirdly dyslexics are highly creative thinkers. A really interesting and informative video created by the British Dyslexia Association (which I shall link below) describes and explains this key strength. Vitally, it emphasises, that many dyslexics have the ability to ‘think outside of the box’, solve complex problems and see patterns that others simply can’t. Compared to others, we dyslexics simply think and process information differently. Because of this, we have a huge window of opportunity to excel and prove out worth to the world. A vast number of famous and well-known household names are dyslexics. Ranging from actors, writers, scientists and entrepreneurs; including Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, Richard Branson, Tom Cruise, Agatha Chrisite and even John Lennon. Despite being dyslexics, all these individuals have shown that success is truly achievable in a number of fields and parts of life. Thus my message to you all is don’t let dyslexia hold you back. Find that task, activity or part of life you are awesome at and run with it. Everyone is good at different things; we just have to find what we as a uniquely gifted individual are good at.
Well that’s my motivational speech of the day! I hope that this has helped you all understand and appreciate the positives and benefits of dyslexia. It must be noted that these positives are merely the ones I have noticed and commented upon. Therefore, they may well be many more out there waiting to be found. For me it was personally important to highlight both the positive and negatives of being a diagnosed dyslexic. Not only was this to highlight what it is like to be dyslexic, but it was so others can understand and try to step into our world and our shoes.
Not sure if this was the result of some sort of divine intervention but last week I passed my driving test! I have no idea how it happened given that I was so nervous and made quite a lot of mistakes in my test; accumulating to quite a lot of minors. Nonetheless, I hope that this news inspires you all to endeavour in you quests to drive.