Dyslexia

6 minute read, unless you’re dyslexic, then it’s 9
19% of us have it, and so do 55% of prisoners and many celebrities. Dyslexia has many forms, and many levels, and we may not even realize we have it. What’s saddening is the correlation between dyslexia, school dropouts, and prison.
Conversely, many famous actors, CEO’s, and entrepreneurs are dyslexic, implying there could be a correlation between dyslexia and success. Less obvious are the 20% of our friends, family, and coworkers who may not realize they have dyslexia and aren’t realizing their potential.
This article summarizes who has dyslexia, the benefits from thinking like someone who’s dyslexic, and what we can do to help anyone communicate more effectively.
Background
People with dyslexia often have difficulty manipulating sounds, poor spelling, delayed visual-verbal responding, or a combination of these traits. We’re not sure why, but it could be related to differences in eye structures for people with dyslexia, or different ways the brain can work. Dyslexic people typically have average to above-average intelligence despite reading more slowly; this may be because everyone’s brain has different regions of strengths.
This image is a simplification of brain functions to illustrate a concept. Note that the dyslexic brain has a larger “Broca’s area,” indicating stronger analysis when speaking.
Dyslexia can be passed genetically. A child can exhibit traits of dyslexia without either parent being aware.

This image is a simplified example of genetic traits not exactly related to dyslexia; it emphasizes that traits such as dyslexia can skip generations and that people can have varying degrees of traits passed through genes.
Kids ability to adapt to dyslexia depends environmental factors such as family behaviors and whether or not an education system recognizes and adapts to diverse learners.

Reading together while pointing to images helps form connections. Even better would be to have real-world situations correlating with the images and words, such as reading about a cat with pictures of a cat while playing with a cat.
Famous people
Many successful people have dyslexia including scientists, actors, politicians, and writers. Many of them

emphasizing their creativity and ability to make complex connections that written words may have hindered.

Who succeeds, and who doesn’t
Most successful people with dyslexia express gratitude that their families, teachers, or peers who allowed them to experience self-esteem during school and build upon their strengths.
Many people don’t have this opportunity at home and suffer in schools that don’t have resources to support diverse learners. The result is a high dropout rate of kids with dyslexia, often leading to prison where the majority of inmates exhibit learning disorders.
My experiences
When I read, my eyes dart across the page and I focus on context rather than individual words. This is common for dyslexia; researchers use cameras to track eye movementsthat may identify reading disorders.
When I focus on reading, it’s difficult for me to combine letters phonetically. I mispronounce words that are new to me, but develop long-term associations if I practice saying them because other areas of my brain are used for verbal processing.

If you’re dyslexic, try saying words as quickly as you see or hear them to create associations in your brain.
If I don’t practice saying the word out loud, I still retain concepts described by the word and form connections with other concepts. In other words, I don’t need to know a word to understand the concept. This has been useful to me throughout my career, allowing me to read faster, ironically, and quickly apply concepts in inventions, programs, and guiding teams. It’s also helped me empathize with people who may not realize they’re dyslexic.
I was a Court Appointed Advocate for two young adults in the foster system who were diagnosed with dyslexia after 10 years of being placed in “slow-learning” classes. They pursued their strengths outside of school, where they felt accepted, and dismissed academic pursuits, where they didn’t feel accepted. Both have been incarcerated several times, which could have been avoided if they had different learning environments at younger ages; we can help all of society by learning communication best-practices for schools and workplaces.
What to do?
Communicate differently.
Methods for helping people with dyslexia learn and communicate are also best practices for effective communication across all of society.
Use audio-visual presentations; when possible include real-world objects or contextProved frequent opportunities for others to reply verbally and confirm understanding, leading to long-term retentionIf possible, allow others to create audio-visual responses in your classroom or meeting. An audio-visual response can be as simple as a piece of paper with visual representations of concepts as they discuss their interpretations.

This image isn’t verified, but shows the concept that most people understand new concepts and retain information longer if they can create mental connections and present their understanding with immediate feedback.
If you think you may have dyslexia, try discussing new concepts without judging your ability to understand them at first. Discussing new concepts without judgement can form permanent connections in regions of your brain that associate words with concepts and allow long-term retention.
Be patient with anyone who hesitates when reading or explaining new concepts.
What to do at school
In the past, classrooms were places where students listened to teachers and did homework on their own to hopefully make connections. Progressive classrooms incorporate project-based learning, where all students learn-by-doing with frequent feedback from diverse audiences to ensure that new concepts are understood correctly and can be communicated with others.

Dyslexia advocate Dean Bragonier leads a hands-on class that puts concepts into context.
Progressive classrooms with sufficient resources encourage students to explore modern communication methods in addition to writing, such as video, animation, art, and physical projects that can convey concepts more effectively than words.
What to do at work
In the past, workplaces had long meetings, people were given written handouts, someone talked a lot, and most people used acronyms that were difficult for everyone to process quickly. Modern workplaces… well, most are still boring and ineffective.
Progressive professionals create audio-visual presentations, minimizing acronyms and jargon. They allow participants to express understanding. They fun with it because most people learn more in a fun and interactive environment.
Resources
If you have children, learn about the symptoms of dyslexia. Consider finding local schools with inclusive learning philosophy. Many will be project-based, catering to a range of learning styles, and may be free, public charter schools within close distance to your existing school.
National, online resources include:
Summary
Dyslexia:

is a difference in audio-visual processing affecting up to 19% of the populationis not an indication of intelligence or characterdisproportionately impacts low-income and minorities due to a combination of genetics and environmental factors
If your child may be dyslexic,

seek professional assessmentsat home, put context behind words and encourage diverse ways of communicatingseek schools that are inclusive of diverse learning styles and incorporate project-based learning
If you may be dyslexic,

zoxRrvW Nosres (just kidding :)Accept limitations and embrace strengths; learn by speaking and doing
If you’re in a work environment,

prepare for meetings with audio-visual presentations using minimal words, acronyms, and jargontake breaks every 10 minutes to have participants re-phrase concepts; be patientencourage team members to do the same

Remember:

I think this image is hilarious! It’s from Pinterest. But, there’s no evidence that people with dyslexia “reverse” letters. Learn symptoms of dyslexia from the Mayo Clinic.
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