Laughter is infectious. Sometimes I don’t even know what a person is laughing at, yet it makes me burst out sniggering or into a rather loud cackle. It is common knowledge that gentle light-hearted humour can be used as a great coping strategy when discussing difficult, sensitive and even obscure topics. It is very much a British convention and custom to sit yourself down with a steaming hot mug of tea or coffee with a complementary biscuit or slice of cake to have a good chat, laugh and put the world to rights.
‘Healthy humour’, which is not derogatory or offensive, can be used in unlimited real-life and everyday situations to help manage stress, tension and anxiety (Plester, 2009), such as prior to an exam or complicated meeting. From a scientific perspective, smiling and laughter are highly beneficial to one’s psychological and emotional wellbeing. The rush of endorphins that are released during laughter can be immensely effective at boosting a person’s mood and generating a real ‘feel good factor’.
Vitally, this does not mean that negative events, situations or emotions should be ignored or viewed as unimportant. Instead, humour can be used manage and lessen the impacts of these stressful occasions.
Within popular literature, it is widely documented that laughter and humour can act as a stimulus to building bonds, common grounding and camaraderie with like-minded others (Moran, 2003 & Plester, 2009). Psychologically it is human nature to seek out others who are similar to ourselves. In this way, individuals may form close relationships and ties with those that we share characteristics and identity elements with. In seeking out ‘similar others’ individuals can freely exchange triumphs, disappointments, coping strategies and life hacks.
As laughter and humour can be vastly deployed in daily stressful and challenging situations, I began to pounder how humour and comedy can be used to help the dyslexic community effectively live their lives. Personally, I am very passionate and serious about promoting societal awareness, understanding and supports for dyslexics. Yet, I do often use humour and elements of comedy when describing and explaining the impacts my dyslexia can have on my day to day existence. My dreadful handwriting often finds itself as the butt of many jokes. I often exclaim that it resembles many squished spiders across a page and that I’m actually not writing in English, or any other human language for that matter! Amongst dyslexics a common humorous expression often surrounds spelling; including how ironically difficult the word ‘dyslexia’ is to spell.
The presence of humour amongst and within dyslexics can really help promote group togetherness, mutual understanding and empathy for fellow members of the dyslexic, and by extension, neurodiverse community. In addition, scholars have also theorised that comedic jokes can used to make others feel more at ease and comfortable discussing dyslexia; particularly if an individual is unfamiliar with the ins and outs of its effects and impacts (Moran, 2003). Vitally, in this way, humour and comedic elements can help individuals feel more relaxed, less pressured and potentially less embarrassed when discussing a sensitive topic like their dyslexic traits. This is of particular importance as it is widely researched and noted that dyslexia can have a large detrimental impact on the wellbeing, self-esteem and anxiety level in dyslexics.
Nonetheless on a serious note, it is crucial to stress that this use of humour should always be appropriate and never be demeaning or insulting to the neurodiverse population. Instead, humour and comedy ought to be used socially as a catalyst for promoting strong mutually understanding relationships and healthy psychological wellbeing.
Overall, it has been explored how crucial humour can be throughout daily human life. Humour, laughter and light-hearted jokes are an awesome way to boost one’s emotional health during difficult times. Not only can this help alleviate stress and tension, it can also assist in building bonds and bridges with those similar to ourselves. Therefore, appropriate humour may be used within the dyslexic community to both help express the impacts and effects of dyslexia and assist individuals in living a fulfilling positive life.