So often when reading about dyslexia one reads and hears only the negative impacts, the struggles and difficulties dyslexic individuals can face. Ranging from reading and writing worries, to visual stress, processing and memory difficulties and associated stress or anxiety, being dyslexic can be a real rocky and turbulent existence. Over the past few years I have found myself dwelling only upon these negative impacts and neglecting any positives. However, more recently my perception has begun to change.
Errors, mistakes, and misjudgements can be really upsetting and disappointing. But, on occasions, no matter how much we plan and prepare we cannot avoid them; particularly when outcomes are unknown or go beyond our control. Humans by their very nature are fallible, regardless of whether one is neurodivergent or not. But, what is of high importance is how we learn and grow from these potential errors and weaknesses.
Throughout our lives, we never stop learning and absorbing new information. This can be a really fulfilling process that can allow us to expand our knowledge and understanding of the world around us. In this way, it is perfectly ok to make a mistake or not do something flawlessly. Very much from a philosophical standpoint, in order to understand what is good, moral, and ‘right’ in life sometimes negative consequences and errors may need to occur.
As exemplars, I reflected upon notable errors I have made and dyslexic-related weaknesses I have. Missing meetings, birthdays, and deadlines, misspelling important and crucial words, poor auditory memory, slower processing speed, and very notably my horrendous handwriting. Although listing these was personally upsetting and deflating it really helped me consider what coping strategies I have used to improve these weaker attributes and where my individual strengths are. Setting reminders, making lists, using calendars, and finding new crazy and wacky ways to spell words are now used daily to improve, develop and enhance these ‘weaker areas’. Interestingly, sometimes these lesser areas of strength are only perceived to be weaker by an individual, and not to an onlooker. In addition, the human brain can be very good at amplifying and skewing the perception of a negative trait or skillset. In this way, a characteristic may be conceived as far weaker than it truly is.
Although it is important to strive and aim to develop and improve upon areas in life we find difficult, it is arguably more important, especially for a dyslexic individual, to emphasise and focus upon ones strengths. This can be the case as many dyslexics can become disappointed or self-conscious of their difficulties (or perceived difficulties), fear new and challenging tasks, and can present with lower self-esteem and higher anxiety levels. Renowned author in the field of dyslexia, Ronald Davis strongly highlighted the importance of dyslexic’s personal strengths within his book The Gift of Dyslexia. 1 Markedly, Davis stresses that all dyslexics possess differing strengths, skillsets and ‘unique gifts’; even if the dyslexic individual does not recognise these themselves. Furthermore, dyslexics can also possess the ability of ‘mastery’. Within this process, a dyslexic can have a very strong natural aptitude for a subject or topic and learn and absorb information easily and almost unconsciously. Most notably it is widely recognised that dyslexics can excel and flourish in some of these following areas: creativity, imagination, ‘outside the box thought’, attention to detail, high emotional intelligence, resilience, and diligence. Vitally, all of these skills and traits can be excellent platforms for success in numerous areas of life.
Concentrating and homing in on ones strengths and not overly dwelling on weaknesses or mistakes is highly important in the dyslexic world. This is imperative to promoting psychological wellbeing and resilience amongst dyslexics, as often they can feel self-conscious and dampened by tasks/skills they find challenging. As has been explored, contrary to popular belief dyslexia can bring a multitude of strengths, benefits and success to one’s life. Although it may take time to recognise these positives, all dyslexics do hold their own unique gifts and tremendous skillsets.
- Davis, R, D. (2010). (3rd ed). The Gift of Dyslexia: Why some of the Brightest People can’t read and how they can learn. London: Souvenir Press Ltd.