There are many misconceptions about dyslexia. Unless you live with, or have a loved one who is dyslexic, it’s a mystery to most. We have been asked if our son could take medication for it. Will he outgrow it? The most common comment is that he must see everything backwards. Below are typical characteristics of dyslexics:
- They are highly aware of their environment.
- They are extremely curious.
- They tend to think in pictures not language.
- They are highly intuitive and insightful.
- They think and perceive multi-dimensionally.
- They possess vivid imaginations.
These six abilities, if not suppressed by parents or by a traditional school system, can emerge into two characteristics; higher than normal intelligence and extraordinary creative abilities. Walt Disney, Richard Branson and Charles Schwab are all examples.
It is necessary to address the paradigm of dyslexia because these tremendous gifts often come with challenges. Commonly dyslexics suffer with great difficulty in four critical areas during their life:
That covers just about the whole school day, wouldn’t you agree? All four areas are essential for academic success.
Dyslexia is an Important Issue for Society as a Whole.
Imagine a child who is sent to school, full of wonder and joy sporting a new back pack and lunch box. He’s been told he was perfect from the moment he emerged from the womb. Now that same child, two months into Kindergarten is gradually becoming aware that he is not grasping reading and writing the way his peers are. There is the humiliation of being called on to read out loud and anxiety when asked to exchange spelling quizzes with classmates for correction. Schoolwork displayed on the wall next to his peer’s is embarrassing and he will eventually be teased. All this anxiety leaves most students exhausted and discouraged at the end of the school day.
Why would that child want to go to school? By second grade he may start detaching from school work. The frustration builds and by 5th grade he becomes a behavior problem. Drugs and alcohol may soon come into the picture as he he is unable to fit in with his more successful peers. As a child he felt great about himself and by 7th grade he’s pretty beaten down and his self- esteem is nonexistent.
If this sounds dramatic please consider the following. A full 20% percent of our society is dyslexic in varying degrees. If you do the math that’s 1 in 5. Now consider a scientific study done by the University of Texas in conjunction with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The study showed that within their prison population, 48% were dyslexic. The cost to support one inmate annually is over $35,000!
The greatest tragedy of all is the lost potential of so many intelligent people who, had they received early intervention and support, both at school and at home, would be productive members of society.
The lack of understanding and early intervention is so greatly needed in our country that President Barack Obama signed the R.E.A.D. Act into law on Feb. 18, 2016. The law requires the National Science Foundation to fund research into “the early identification of children and students with dyslexia, curricula and educational tools needed for such students and well a professional development for teachers and administrators”. He devoted $5,000,000.00 for this worthy cause.
While this is a huge step in the right direction, the research began this year (2017) and will continue until 2021. In short, it will be years before all students will receive the help they desperately need. As a society, we are moving at a snail’s pace to address the needs and talents of dyslexic children in our communities.