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The Blessings of Being Dyslexic

Updated on April 4, 2018
Nadine May profile image

Nadine is from Cape Town and is both a visionary fiction author, an art therapist and a graphic designer. Loves gardening, reading & writing


What is Dyslexia?

The term "dyslexia" was introduced in 1884 by the German ophthalmologist, R. Berlin.He spoke of "word-blindness". Dyslexia is not a disease so there is no cure. You are born with it.

This morning in our office my partner Robin suddenly started laughing. I wondered why and looked over his shoulder at his computer screen. The image on Facebook made me smile.

Sometimes I forget how to spell a word so I change the whole sentence to avoid using it.

That was so like me. I’ve done that so often as wrote my first novel. I especially laughed as well after I read all the comments. Apparently I’m not alone.

Grammar & Spelling

Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher, scientist and artist, stressed repeatedly that grammar should not be taught in an abstract way but should be developed in a living way from language itself. He explained how to teach verbally the written words like; past, future and the present Instead of a blank screen what image can one put to these words?

Here is a lovely, pictorial explanation by Leonardo da Vinci which leads to an ‘Aha’ experience for dyslexics.

"If you put your hand in a flowing river, you have just touched the last thing which is the past and the first thing that is about to come.The present moment is the same."

This made the words visible for me.

Well known dyslexics
Well known dyslexics | Source

Famous People with Dyslexia

Famous people in the world, like Albert Einstein and Walt Disney were also dyslexic and employed secretaries to do their correspondence. I was already married with kids when I discovered that many famous people were, like me, dyslexic.

I wish I had known about these well known people when I was still in school! I hope that teachers today tell their students that being diagnosed with dyslexia is not the end of their lives.

All the years of learning to write, first in Dutch and the much later in English took a great deal of effort. To be told (several times over the years) that I will never be able to write only triggered me to prove them wrong. It must be the same for when people are told they will never walk.

When people tell me that my English is full of grammatical errors, especially while typing in a forum or on a cell phone, little do they know how that can still trigger me emotionally. Texting in communication devices correctly is still a challenge for me, because I cannot edit spontaneous replies or questions. People can be so arrogant and unkind when they interpret these errors as the person being uneducated, and then to be told to only focus on other skills instead. That is EGO-mode advice. Our Ego's will reluctantly venture into learning a skill they are not good at, only our Higher-self, our Soul will push us to overcome debilitating obstacles.

The Different levels of Dyslexia

I have always had trouble with p, q, d and b. and like some famous people my problem was spelling! At school I always read at my appropriate reading level, but when asked to read aloud in class I was terrible and would be laughed at. My self esteem was low, especially when I was kept back one class and I ended up in my younger sister’s class. I would often play a game with my sister, to write a word down so you could only read it in the mirror, since I was good at it.
Today I still make many mistakes while typing! Auto correct helps but I do not always catch my mistakes. My partner is my editor!


Can Dyslexia be a Blessing?

All I can reply to that question is that it made me work a lot harder to excel in other things instead of writing. The reasons were in order to hide the fact that I could not spell for toffee, but it also kept me from being prideful. Today I feel that obstacles, like rejections, do not scare me as much anymore. Compared to others who experience obstacles and therefore give up far too easily, my blessing is that I keep at it until I reach my goals.

Today I can laugh at it. I learned skills that I never would have mastered if I were not dyslexic. Seeing pictures in my mind of the object I need to describe by using words is what so confused me as a child. I hated school with a passion! I found it hard to concentrate for long, compared to other children.

I had no problem with math at school, but I could never show the teacher how I got to my answer on paper. The result was that she accused me of stealing the correct answer. All I remember was that I was often frustrated, angered, or very annoyed.

It was years later that I discovered that I had unusual abilities in design and creativity, and I was very good at spatial visualization tasks.


Hiding Having a Learning Disorder

Over the years I found ways to hide my disability by avoiding writing. If I had to write a note to the school teacher because one of my children were to be absent due to a cold, or for any other reason, I often asked my clever daughter to write it down so I could copy what she wrote.

Before the use of computers I used to write some words, like the number eight, inside my hand just in case I had to write out a check that had the number eight in it. Somehow I could never remember how ‘eight’ was spelled when I needed to write it down. Thank goodness that I never have to do that anymore. Handing over a bank card is a lot less stressful.

What also worked for me was mentally seeing a large sale sign in a supermarket. I would add the word that stood for a product, or the name of a product to this sign to see if I could come up with the correct spelling.

Is Dyslexia Inherited?

Scientists aren’t really sure what causes dyslexia. What inspired me to become a nurse was so I might find out what the cause was. Both my children have not inherited it from me, and my parents were not dyslexic. Perhaps the crossed wiring where the right side of the brain has to take on the job in language usually handled by the left side might be true because I think in pictures. I’ve read that it is a linguistic processing problem that affects the ability to process phonologic and graphic symbols, which is what reading, writing is all about, but I’m not so sure about numbers. I never was all that dyslexic when it came to numbers. I was determined to read, because I wanted to find out what people learned from reading. Today reading is almost an addiction. I read fast probably due to me skipping over the words that have no imagery.

More Tips for writers with Dyslexia

A lot more people with some form of dyslexia are now coming ‘out of the closet’ so to speak. When I meet them I give them all kinds of tips that I learned over the years.

As publishers and distributors in South Africa we have read and distributed this great book about Dyslexia. This particular book gives a more neutral description of picture-thinker characteristics. How children and school teachers can learn a great deal about how a picture-thinker's brain works.

The book explains why some children seem to be fine when the paper they write on is of a different color, like green or yellow. It is a valuable resource for parents or teachers.

Tips for dyslexics

When a word has a red line under it I go completely blank, but when I type my version of a word into Google, it often picks up the correct spelling! If that does not work I cut and paste my whole sentence into Google and that works most of the time. Google will suggest the correct sentence, like “Do you mean....?”

Then in my case English being a second language, I also need a Grammar Checker.

Today this learning disorder is being diagnosed and understood a lot earlier in schools than in my day, during the fifties. I never had the opportunity to have special tuition, but with the use of electronic technology many people that would never have had the opportunity to write have now, like me, been given the opportunity to type down experiences and stories that are screening past our minds like movies. We can paint our images with words.

Thank you for reading and I will end this post with a visualization video that is meant to stimulate mental creativity like seeing visions.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I will be putting this dalzizng insight to good use in no time.

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      4 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for reading my hub Cari. Yes today I do see my own 'handicap' as a blessing. I keep thinking in images and that helps with creative writing.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image


      4 years ago

      Some of my favorite people have dyslexia including my husband and daughter. I do look at it as a gift because my husband, who truly sees 'outside the box' and exceeds in his profession. I really enjoyed reading your page. Thank you.

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      4 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for your comment Elsie. I know of nobody who was dyslectic in my family, but then my parents were already in their forties when I was born, so I never knew any grandparents.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      4 years ago from New Zealand

      Very interesting hub. Dyslexic is inherited I think because I have several in my family. One of my grand daughter when she started school used to write from right to left on a page and you had to hold it up to the mirror to read it. Thanks for sharing with us your story.

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      4 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for visiting my page on Dyslexia Daniel.

    • ologsinquito profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      One of my nieces has dyslexia, and it has been a struggle. Fortunately, she'll still do well in life because her outgoing personality will compensate.

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      I'm so glad that you found my hub helpful. Thanks for sharing your own obstacles. Yes communication through imagery is often more powerful than just words, but together they represent the yin and the yang in an article.

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 

      5 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      That explains a lot. I've never been able to articulate my having to "see" things to learn, before I can. Without pictures I wouldn't have learned anything. Spelling bees I mastered easily, spelling tests, AUGH. I will never forget the word "knowledge" when it came up on my test in junior high. I KNEW, I knew it, I had aced the verbal spelling like usual. I spent the whole test time writing it every which way I could think of and yep, got it wrong. I often "forget" that I am not alone in this special gift of being able to see things in such detail, mirrored back to me, thank goodness. I am happy for all the information about it now. Super hub!

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you Ann. Yes it takes just as much time replying to the comments as it takes to writing a new hub! But I have learned so much already by just doing that.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      I think you just have to set your own pace; I do and it seems to work. If I've spent some time away then I don't always read all hubs notified but I try to read as many as possible. It takes a while to get into the routine. Hope you do keep it up as you're doing so well! Ann

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Ha H a thanks Ann I only now spotted the /my/hub/comments page. Sorry about responding so late. Keeping up with hubpages takes more and more of my time. I hope I can keep it up.

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you Roger. I only now spotted the /my/hub/comments page. Sorry about responding so late, or did I see your comment? Its hard to keep up sometimes.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      First of all, I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get round to reading this.

      I love your last line; 'We can paint our imageries with words.' Many dyslexics I've spoken to are strong visually but no one has put it quite as beautifully as that.

      You've obviously worked hard to cope with your dyslexia and you have a wonderfully positive approach. I like your way of using Google - I'll remember that one to pass on.

      Great hub, Nadine! Up, useful and interesting. Ann

    • Roger Nichols profile image

      Roger Nichols 

      5 years ago from Mandurah, Western Australia

      Thanks Nadine for a very interesting subject and for allowing us to become more aware of it and its ramifications.So often one reads about such difficulties but it is only when the person who experiences the problem writes about it that it becomes more real and gives one the opportunity to get a better understanding through that personal perspective

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you for that compliment. I'm not what you would call a natural writer, but I'm always working to improve myself.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I learned so much from reading your article. Thank you and you are a great writer!

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks to you both kidscrafts. and bravewarrior for your comments. I'm glad that I wrote it if it has given more of an insight into how we manage.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      Very interesting. I've know dyslexic people but they never explained how they see or what they do to compensate for it. Thanx for the insight, Nadine.

    • kidscrafts profile image


      5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Great hub, Nadine! I had some students who were dyslexic... it's not an easy world for them!

      I love your picture at the top because even if I am not dyslexic, I have to use the same tactic sometimes when I write in English because I can turn the sentence the way I wanted :-)

      Enjoy your day!

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you DDE for your comments.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Nadine you have shared such interesting information and well informed about you had a great challenge and still more ahead of you. a truly unbelievable way to overcome the health issue. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for reading my hub. You might want to share it with your friend?

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you Johah. You never truly overcome it, but today there are many ways to include our written language as a skill. Your daughter will do the same.

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thank you Flourish. I learned over the years that our ego's only want to pursue what we are good at instead of following one's dream

    • Nadine May profile imageAUTHOR

      Nadine May 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for your comments Eric. Yes I must always remember not to think of my dyslexia as an obstacle.

    • word55 profile image

      Al Wordlaw 

      5 years ago from Chicago

      Very interesting! I know of someone with Dyslexia. Thank you for your article Nadine.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      5 years ago from Queensland Australia

      You should be proud of how you have overcome dyslexia to be such an accomplished writer Nadine. Even with the help of computers and the new technology it would still be a challenge. My daughter has dyslexia but despite struggling at school, has managed to cope very well. She learns by watching and doing. She only needs to be shown something once or watch how it's done and can master it almost immediately, but she has trouble reading instructions. She is an accomplished artist, photographer, and amazing at crafts and woodwork. Voted up.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      What you have conveyed is a strong testament to your perseverene and creativity. It's remarkable that you have found creative ways to overcome the challenge that you face and to become an author. The examples you provide of famous people who have flourised with dyslexia should inspire others. Well done indeed.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      My elder children and I use the term handicapable. I know it is probably wrong but along with wishing I was a black American woman I would like to have dyslexia also. Strange and weird I know. But I just have never met one I did not immediately like. I am glad it is not a "disease" to be cured but a gift of looking at things differently than me and my buddies. That is just how we rock n roll around the house of Dierker.

      Dyslexia never held a woman back by itself. It only made her different and that is damned beautiful to me.


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