The Brilliance of Dyslexia

My neighbor, let’s call him Jim, was out gardening, so I popped over to say hello. Always jovial, Jim has a way of lifting my spirits. He asked how my business was going (he has seen parents pull into our court every afternoon for nine years now) and I told him about my dream of writing books and training teachers about dyslexia.

Jim said (for the first time to me…) “I think I have dyslexia. I said, “That means you have a higher IQ than most people.” He laughed hysterically, which made me ponder. “Jim, that's my main platform, why do you think it's funny?”

He said, “Heidi, I never felt bright in school, can you call my teachers and tell them I'm brilliant?”

This snapshot captures the dilemma of many of my students face. Their self-concept is that something must be wrong with them, they are deficient, and certainly not bright.

In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth!

My students are often really surprised to find out all of the benefits of being dyslexic. Benefits include seeing things in a different way, creativity, imagination, thinking capabilities of an inventor, higher IQ, and the quality of persistence.

I could write a novel on each of these topics, but today, let’s look at persistence. I hear you say, “Persistence? Who cares?”

It turns out, persistence is a big requirement, in people who want to become successful. There are countless stories of people who have benefitted from never giving up. It is a skillset, a quality people gain over the course of their life.

Famous musicians may have natural talent, but their persistence with practicing is what gave them the edge they needed to become exceptional. Inventors often take incredible amounts of time, making prototypes, experimenting in the lab, and discussing different concepts with other inventors. Quantum physicists spend hours reviewing mathematical formulas persistently.

Often, one of these people may have seemingly overnight success. However, overnight success stories rarely actually happen overnight. Behind the scenes, these people are persistent in following their goals. Instead of going out on Friday and Saturday nights, a novel writer may spend that time writing.

Now, let's think of two students. Quana learns easily, gets great grades, and fairly easily maintains a straight-A average. Joe is dyslexic and has had to be persistent about his work in order to get a C average.

At first glance, we may think Quana, the straight-A student, will receive more success in life. But when we dig deeper, it's usually Joe who accomplishes more, simply because of the concept of persistence. When there are struggles in life, humans grow more resilient, and as a consequence, we learn how to be successful even with adversity.

Time and time again, I've heard people with dyslexia tell me they are grateful they had the challenge early on. They see the beauty that is created.

So, when I congratulated my neighbor Jim, he laughed, and said, “You made my day Heidi!”

That’s why, when people find out their child is dyslexic, congratulations are in order. Dyslexia is a wonderful addition to any life, and when people really understand the vast brilliance in someone with dyslexia, everyone will wish they were dyslexic.

With Love,

Heidi Nord