It is coming to the end of Dyslexia Awareness Week, and I wanted to mark it in some way.
I don’t have dyslexia but I know a few people who do. By and large, they’re the most creative people I know, and the main outward manifestation of their dyslexia is that it takes them longer to read stuff than it takes me.
Talking to them about it, one of the most striking things that comes through is that whilst dyslexia is generally perceived as a learning difficulty, it’s actually a totally different way of seeing the world. I think this is only a difficulty because traditionally the world says that whilst you’re in school you need to learn in a very text based environment – but hopefully as education evolves we’re starting to see that books are not the only way to learn stuff.
A couple of years ago an old school friend of mine linked me to the following video which tries to visualise how someone with dyslexia might see text, which I found quite useful:
From watching that, it seems pretty clear dyslexia has little to do with how bright you are – I’m pretty sure my spelling would suffer too if words spent all their time winking suggestively at me or moving around the page. Equally it might help me think a little more creatively. For instance, according to a list I found on the internet, the following famous people have or had dyslexia:
- Agatha Christie (best selling novelist of all time)
- Albert Einstein (most influential physicist of the 20th century)
- Ann Bancroft (first woman at both the North and South Poles)
- Hans Christian Andersen (whose stories have been translated into more than 150 languages)
- Whoopi Goldberg (changed the way we look at nuns forever)
- Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple and Pixar)
- Cath Kidston (say what you like about her twee designs, but they’re freakin’ everywhere, and if Wikipedia is to be believed her company is worth £75 million)
- Roald Dahl (really, where do I even start)
- Liv Tyler (changed the way we look at elves forever)
- Leonardo da Vinci (painter, sculptor, architect, scientist… etc etc)
As random samples of society go, it’s pretty impressive. Also, note the number of people who have to read or write a load of stuff as part of their chosen professions. It’s most of them, innit. Small wonder there’s a campaign to rebrand dyslexia as a gift, rather than as a disability. I hope that campaign works out.