• Zaida Jenkins

Dyslexia: A hidden strength

What do Pablo Picasso, Steven Spielberg, Magic Johnson, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison have in common? Each one of them reached tremendous levels of success while experiencing the challenges of dyslexia, a condition that can create slow or inaccurate reading, spelling difficulties and confusion between similar words.

One in five people in the United States have the condition. It’s common within the district, so the Olentangy Dyslexia Network was founded in order to provide dyslexic students the proper assistance that they need. The group works to help students recognize the signs of dyslexia, inform parents and help implement alternative teaching methods.

“Unfortunately, dyslexia is often misdiagnosed or simply not caught so it is not unusual for students to go through school and not realize they have it. That said, it should never happen as schools are required by law to test for it. But, it does,” Olentangy Dyslexia Network’s Carole Dorn-Bell said.

Many students fly under the radar for so long because they are caught up in the misconceptions surrounding dyslexia. It does not always cause one to read backwards, or perceive a text as scrambled, but creates confusion when trying to connect the sound that the letter makes to the symbol that represents it.

“The hardest thing for me was to overcome knowing that other students were reading at a higher level than me, so I didn’t feel as smart as them. I realized that it didn’t matter what other kids thought, and that I wasn’t any different,” freshman Caroline Dayhuff said.

Most people are unaware of the advantages of the way the dyslexic mind thinks. Researchers have discovered the concept referred to as “MIND-Strengths”, or heightened areas of ability. These skill sets are categorized by material, interconnected, narrative and dynamic types of reasoning.

According to Dyslexic Advantage, an organization to inform and empower people with dyslexia, “The first pattern was the set of challenges with reading, spelling and other skills that have always been seen as the core features of dyslexia. But , the second pattern was a common set of strengths. It was through the process of trying to understand and characterize these strengths that the MINDStrengths concept was born.”

Spatial thinking abilities, pattern detection, storytelling, memory and goal-oriented mindsets are a few of the many areas of strength that someone with dyslexia may discover. These skills can lead to success in an infinite number of careers, including architecture, software design, engineering and entrepreneurship.

“It is by understanding, building and using these natural strengths of the dyslexic mind that people have the greatest chance of flourishing in school and the workplace. It’s by understanding how to strengthen what we do best that all of us flourish, and these strengths are ‘hot zones’ of success for dyslexic individuals,” according to Dyslexic Advantage.

The more that the community learns about its dyslexic population, the more that they will thrive together. Through open conversations and adequate teaching techniques, people with dyslexia will continue to grow in their academic pursuits and discover the benefits of their unique minds.

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