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Dyslexia - It's all Turtles

Updated on June 24, 2015

Dyslexia and intelligence

In the first of three articles written for the site . I address a common fallacy concerning dyslexia .

Dyslexia from the root dys - difficulty and lexia relating to language has it's fair share of demagogues - a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.

In a 2010 poll 80% believed dyslexia to be form of mental retardation. Dyslexics can't read . Learning to read is as easy as learning to ride a bike therefore dyslexia is a form of mental retardation , so goes the logic

  • Of course not everyone learns to ride a bike. You would not suggest riding a bike has anything to do with intelligence and neither research tells us has reading.

  • In the end the vast majority including dyslexics do learn to read, terms like functionally illiterate are thrown around but nobody really knows what that means .

As the author of a course on productivity and learning , nonsense like this reminds me of a conversation William James is supposed to have had with an elderly lady.who told him the Earth rested on the back of a huge turtle.

“But, my dear lady”, James asked, “what holds up the turtle?” “Ah”, she said, “that’s easy. He is standing on the back of another turtle.” “But would you be so good as to tell me what holds up the second turtle?” “It’s no use, Professor”, said the lady with a snort of derision, “It’s turtles, turtles, turtles, all the way down.

Learning to read, it turns out is not really the problem , good teaching given time will get the job done .

So what is the problem ?.

  • Reading to learn [autodidactism] ,

  • Internalising , organising structuring thoughts

  • Writing

  • Formal presentations .

The answer is not clear cut , sometimes it is just one issue , sometimes it is all of them . Let us go back to the definition , difficulty with language in one or many of its forms. Just like some people are naturally good at football golf or tennis , some just gravitate towards the spoken and written word. What sets dyslexics apart is the apparent disconnect between expected and actual performance, the imbalance the under achievement. The islands of excellence and the islands of ineptitude .

I am are going to leave you with the thoughts of the excellent

Brock Eide

In short, dyslexia has a boatload of possible symptoms that makes it difficult to spot. And one of the biggest symptoms is one that educators rarely correlate: giftedness. Underneath all of the spelling mistakes and the trouble focusing, the backwards handwriting and the processing problems, dyslexics have a high tendency to be extremely smart. In fact, studies have shown that the average IQ of a child with dyslexia is routinely higher than that of the regular population."They stretch the boundaries, from a young age" Brock Eide continues. "When they read, they can't just automatically match sounds and letters, so they use contextual cues and problem solving and no one may realize there's a problem." Dyslexics grow so good at problem solving, at finding alternative ways to compensate for the fact that they struggle with the written word, that they become expert brain stormers. Dyslexic children often become some of society's greatest adult thinkers ", Brock Eide says


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