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Having a learning disability such as dyslexia can sometimes be a symbol of good luck in individuals’ lives. According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is defined as a learning difficulty specifically relating to reading, as well as other related language-based skills, such as writing, spelling, and pronouncing (“Dyslexia Basics”). Dyslexia can pose a serious problem in individuals’ lives, especially in their academic career. However, it can also become an advantage if early intervention is provided to those diagnosed.
Many successful individuals with dyslexia, such as former chairman and co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, and film actor Tom Cruise, have contributed positively to society. Despite these successes, some individuals with dyslexia suffer greatly from their disability, often inhibited from daily functioning due to myths and misconceptions they encounter. These myths, incorrect beliefs that lead to erroneous behavior, can be damaging.
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Common myths include the belief that dyslexia isn’t real, it’s uncommon, or it’s merely a vision problem. In the article “Banish These Bad Ideas About Dyslexia,” author Temma Ehrenfeld notes, “For parents, it is very normal to be both afraid of and curious about dyslexia, wondering if it is really happening or if its symptoms are easy to diagnose, when confronted with their child’s mental health issue.” Ehrenfeld continues, “The answer is yes, to both. ‘Dyslexia’ is one of the conditions covered under the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
These misconceptions can negatively impact an individual emotionally and psychologically. However, society can raise awareness about dyslexia, eliminate the stigma attached to being dyslexic, accurately define dyslexia with its struggles and benefits, debunk myths about it, and understand why individuals with dyslexia are an important part of the community. This can help individuals with dyslexia to showcase their extraordinary skills, transforming those once “disabled to learn” into significant contributors to society.
Dyslexia is characterized as a learning difficulty that impacts language-based activities, such as reading. It is more broadly understood as a difficulty with memory, perception of information, recall, and time management, according to the British Dyslexia Association (“Dyslexia and Co-Occurring Difficulties: Overview”). Individuals with dyslexia often struggle with reading aloud due to issues identifying letters and their sounds.
This extends to other dependent skills such as writing, spelling correctly, recognizing and pronouncing words clearly, orientating with maps, or understanding standardized patterns easily. Despite dyslexia being categorized as a learning difficulty, it manifests in different ways and forms in individuals’ lives, depending on the severity. In the book,
In “Living with Dyslexia: The Social and Emotional Consequences of Specific Learning Difficulties/Disabilities,” the writer Barbara Riddick states, “Naming dyslexia shows differences because it deals with individuals in various areas” (Riddick 7). Dyslexia is often inherited, as it runs in the family, but it is also affected by environmental factors. It is described as being neurobiological in origin; however, the motivations and social systems that individuals with dyslexia have grown up may have crucial effects in different situations, according to the IDA (“The Myths and Truths of Dyslexia in Different Writing Systems”).
Learning difficulties that particularly affect an individual’s career can also lead diagnosed people with dyslexia to experience physical and mental fatigue, isolation from others, and persistent dissatisfaction with life. According to the studies of Bullock (1975) and Warnock (1978), due to improper learning methods for individuals with dyslexia, dyslexics tend to encounter more financial and environmental problems in the future (Riddick 7).
Quick surrender on tasks, depression, and even a tendency towards criminal activities could be inevitable outcomes in dyslexics’ lives. In the article “The Lifelong Social and Emotional Effects of Dyslexia,” the author states that due to the long process of finding a job – such as filling application forms and conducting interviews – could be frustrating for dyslexics. They can even see illegal activities as an option and pursue them (“The Lifelong”). Dyslexia can be seen as a disability, but it can also put individuals in serious trouble in life.
Although dyslexia often impacts an individual’s life with its struggles, there are also many benefits to being dyslexic. Since dyslexic brains work and function differently than normal brains, this may lead them to excel in different areas, such as science and arts. If they can improve their poor language-based skills, their problems may turn into advantages, such as thinking and perceiving in different dimensions, experiencing thought as reality. Dyslexic people tend to feel isolated from others, which may even lead to depression.
However, if they can overcome their individual difficulties with dyslexia, these effects can benefit dyslexics by fostering a unique vision, and, in seeing the big picture instead of mere words. According to Dr. Catya Von Karolyi, a professor of psychology at Wisconsin University, “Dyslexia could signify natural superior skills, but cannot be categorized by its challenges alone.” As Von Karolyi asserts, “Dyslexia can benefit an individual’s life by unveiling unique talents rather than focusing on its struggles” (Paul 6).
The myths about dyslexia affect diagnosed individuals with dyslexia harmfully. According to Psychology Today, when people begin researching this learning difficulty, they encounter many confusing pieces of misinformation that prevent them from finding what they are looking for (“Banish”). These misconceptions about dyslexia can lead people to follow incorrect information, making misunderstandings inevitable in individuals’ lives.
Special treatments for dyslexia often get delayed, and the anxieties of dyslexics increase accordingly. Moreover, labeling dyslexia as a learning disability, instead of a learning style, generates more myths about dyslexia. Brock Eide and Fernette Eide explain, “like an archaeologist who’s discovered a vast and elaborately carved gate but has become so engrossed in its study, we have failed… because we first recognized dyslexia as a learning disorder rather than a learning or processing style…” (“The Dyslexic Advantage”). Changing the perspective of dyslexia may enable individuals to receive needed treatments without delay. However, first understanding the realities of dyslexia plays a crucial role in this process.
One of the misconceptions about dyslexia is that it is a rare and uncommon disorder. In reality, dyslexia is a commonly seen learning disability, affecting an estimated 15 percent of Americans, according to the NY Times (Paul 6). Moreover, it is the most common cause of reading difficulties among elementary school children. Some people diagnosed with dyslexia may have milder forms of the disorder, while others may experience it more severely.
The International Dyslexia Foundation states, “between 15% and 20% of the population have a language-based learning disability, with dyslexia being the most common of these disorders” (“The Problem”). This highlights another misconception: that dyslexia is more common amongst boys than girls. This is incorrect. Dyslexia affects both genders equally in schools. Boys might attract more attention from teachers because they tend to be more vocal about their challenges than their female peers.
Another myth about dyslexia is that it’s a vision problem and that dyslexics can only read or see things backwards. The fact is, dyslexics often struggle to easily identify and break down words. One of the symptoms for identifying dyslexia may include misplaced letters, but flipping letters around doesn’t necessarily indicate dyslexia.
In fact, research has shown that the majority of young children, not diagnosed with dyslexia, occasionally reverse letters too. Reversing letters is not the only sign of dyslexia either. Dyslexics usually have trouble with numerous skills such as writing, speaking, and socializing. Most children and adults with dyslexia are able to read, albeit at a basic level, and spelling issues often act as classic red flags signaling potential academic difficulties for dyslexics (Frost 5).
Another critical misconception of dyslexia is that people with dyslexia have low IQ levels and that dyslexia is a sign of low intelligence. This is simply untrue. There is absolutely no correlation between low IQ and dyslexia. Suzanne Adlof and Tiffany Hogan assert that since learning to read requires time and formal instruction, comparing people’s IQ levels by testing their reading achievements doesn’t provide accurate results. It often leads to missing an opportunity for early intervention (“Understanding Dyslexia,” 762).
Dyslexia can occur in individuals of all intelligence levels, varied cultural backgrounds, and upbringings. As a matter of fact, dyslexics can have high, middle, or low IQs, just like the rest of the population. It is worth mentioning that, with the right kind of support, dyslexic children can grow to be successful adults with prosperous academic careers. Some children can even have high IQs even when they are diagnosed with dyslexia, due to having a brain that works differently than others. Take, for example, some of the successful names who have shown exceptional skills particularly in science and art-related fields, including Tom Cruise, Steve Jobs, and Anthony Hopkins.
Another misconception is that dyslexia can be cured. However, dyslexia is not a disease. People diagnosed with dyslexia simply have “different brains” that find certain tasks, like reading and writing, difficult, just as some of us find it hard to play soccer or run 5 miles. Many dyslexics have great visual and spatial skills that can prove beneficial to their prospective employers in their careers. It is often believed that dyslexia can be outgrown later in life, but this does not hold true. Unless people get an intervention in the early stages of their disability, they will always continue to encounter struggles and problems in their daily lives. It is possible, however, to help these individuals ease their problems with the right kind of support system.
It is important to be aware of dyslexia because dyslexic brains have different processing styles, and they develop in different ways. “Dyslexic brains are organized in a way that maximizes strength in making big-picture connections,” according to learning disability expert Fernette Eide, “dyslexia is simply an alternative way that our brains can be wired” (Venton 11). Another learning disability specialist, Dr. Stefani Hines, states “Dyslexics tend to have strengths in other areas, such as creativity and imagination. They also think outside the box” (Fisher 4). We should be more conscious about dyslexics because they are naturally highly creative and have exceptional reasoning skills.
It is essential to understand the myths and facts about dyslexia. Otherwise, dyslexics may repeatedly face struggles in their daily lives as they would be using their potential in negative ways. Since there is high potential due to different functioning levels of a dyslexic brain, unique skills should be discovered. Knowing precisely what dyslexia is and what being dyslexic entails, with its benefits and struggles, and distinguishing between myths and facts about this learning disability will help us raise awareness about people diagnosed with dyslexia.
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