For many kids starting out in their first year of school, one in five will have learning difficulties. It’s not because they are ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid.’ They just may be dyslexic.
According to studies, dyslexia affects 20 percent of the population. The most obvious signs are difficulty in reading and writing. Switching letters and numbers that look similar. For instance ‘p’ and ‘q’ or ‘9’ and ‘6.’
Dyslexic people don’t function well in structured environments. For many, the conventional classroom with teachers who don’t understand dyslexia is not a very kind place for them.
Mathematics can be extremely difficult. Reading out aloud can also be hard as the brain tends to read the word before then the word after. It takes intense concentration to write sets of numbers or to memorize a series.
I discovered much later that I did have something that ‘looked like dyslexia.’ I displayed nearly all the obvious symptoms and I had difficulty learning, even though my teachers said I was ‘smart.’ It was a struggle.
One of the first challenge was when the teacher told us to write on three lines instead of four, in an exercise book. I wrote on four because I counted the space in between the lines. Those were, technically, lines as well.
It didn’t stop there.
In high school, mathematical concepts were almost impossible. I stumbled through algebra, fractions and physics while at the same time trying to keep my dream of becoming a PNGDF pilot (which of course, needed mathematics.) It pained me to know that everyone else had no trouble learning.
Studying, for a dyslexic mind, can also be a major challenge. Concentration was indeed a rare commodity. Memorizing through repetition as many kids did was like climbing an impossible incline.
I won’t go into the science of it all. But put simply, the dyslexic brain processes information very differently.
For dyslexic people who survived school, they will attest to the fact that they had to devise their own methods of learning.
For me, learning meant breaking theoretical concepts into mentally visualized building blocks. Visualization and imagination happens constantly in the brain. It is a nonstop activity that is, in some instances, ‘educated’ out of them in school.
I found that music and beat patterns are vital if dyslexics are to survive the rigors of the unfriendly education system. For example, you rap the periodic table to memorize the elements. Spelling without a beat or without breaking a word into patterns (or ‘building blocks’) was and still is difficult. Each word has to be pictured and spelled or read. Numbers are remembers for the patterns and the beats they ‘produce.’
Colors are interesting by the way. A lot of dyslexic people don’t remember colors. They remember the emotions associated with the colors they recall.
The advantage for me is in languages. I don’t memorize words or phrases. Like everything else, languages contain building blocks. And like add-ons in Mozilla, they form the basis of wonderful imaginative tapestries that can be created.
Monotony is painful. Structures are obstacles.
Our minds are constantly at work to discover patterns or formulas that can be used to ‘hack a system.’ The universe belongs to the dyslexic mind because everything has a beat, a pattern and a formula. It just needs to be found.
Over the years, I found that you can condense journalism, camera and editing training into a formula that can be used to teach people who have no prior knowledge of the media.
Everything is disassembled into ‘building blocks, patterns formulas and beats. The important thing is it has to be done in order to understand it.
The dyslexic mind also thinks in terms of strategies. Those strategies do not exist on one level. That strategy is visual and broad no matter how small the tangible evidence is to others. The images in the mind are in multiple dimensions and exist on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
Action is instinctive and largely misunderstood because the strategy is a jumbled mess that cannot be easily deciphered.
Much later, I found so many others on the internet who are also dyslexic.
Steve Jobs, Apple
Bill Gates, Microsoft
Henry Ford, Ford
Ted Turner, CNN
Bill Hewlitt, Hewlitt and Packard
Richard Branson, Virgin
That is the complexity of thought and emotion that a dyslexic child is trying to express but can’t. I do hope it helps parents who struggle with their children’s dyslexia.
I can tell you, it is not a curse, it is a huge gift that needs to be appreciated an nurtured by parents a teachers.