Warning: deliberate emotional rant ahead. Its about the ‘dyslexic’s don’t exist’ article. Admittedly there is probably some spin going on to sell papers, so I am not going to make a comment about the particular article. You can read it yourself if you wish at the address below. My rant really is to put a view of someone on the other end…one who ‘suffers’ (I use the term loosely) with dyslexia, so as to help people who don’t have it understand a little bit more.

There’s no real way of being able to respond on large scales to articles like the one below because the newspapers don’t listen to small people. However, if you find what i write here useful, then feel free to share it and add your comments to the discussion at the end of this post.

Read the article that this rant refers to here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2570977/PETER-HITCHENS-Dyslexia-not-disease-It-excuse-bad-teachers.html

 Right, so there is a lot of debate. Lets start from a place of experience, mine.

1) I struggle with dyslexia. But not words: numbers (dyscalculia) is what I struggle with. Words are generally fine unless there are some very complex things going on. I struggle with words when i have to read them out loud, though, too much processing going on. You’ll notice it most when i am reading the bible in church out loud, or reading liturgy. You’ll spot stumbles all over the place. If you ask me what I just read if I read it out loud I couldn’t tell you…I have to reread it!

 2) I have come across both children and adults who have a hard time with dyslexia. they are labelled stupid, slow, foolish…distracted, lazy. These are very very painful comments to make, because it implies with a little bit of effort we ‘can get over it’. 

 But what if it is to do with how brain processes information because of how it has developed?

 I have had nervous exhaustion and been sick off work years ago for making many errors while working in an accounts department for British Gas. The other side of the story while there though is that I solved a problem that the software department of the british gas head office couldn’t solve, even though I had had no training in it. I just worked it out.

Why do I make such a grandiose boast? Well its because I am proud of how God made me! (therefore my pride is in God, not in myself…I can boast about that!) 

This is why: what isn’t often told is our (dyslexics) ability to connect ideas that other people don’t. Our creativity. In one sense, i agree that dyslexia doesn’t exist! Dyslexia means we just don’t process information the same way that other people generally do. We are the artisans. Go back to ancient Greece and we would be level with the scholars. We bring the beauty where they bring the logic. Logic and art create philosophy. Logic and art help us to understand God. Logic and art help us to make sense of the world around us as the artist risks examining questions of beauty and meaning…it helps us to understand ourselves and each other.

The Greeks wouldn’t have seen us as sick, or diseased. They recognized the need for both.

But in theses ‘enlightened’ days, artists are poor until they are dead. The world belongs to those who are the scientists and the number crunchers. 

Having spoken to experts and from my own experience, whatever those two terms might mean, I am convinced that dyslexia and many other related issues that this article talks about, are due at least in part to lack of development in the brain of the ability to filter out information to enable focus. 

From what I can understand, as our awareness of the world begins to increase at around the ages of 3-4 years old, normally we start to be able to filter out that which we want to pay attention to. There is a vague idea in my head it could have something to do with hunter/gatherer development. A hunter is able to cut out all distractions to focus on killing the prey (which is why men are so good at zoning out women…sorry!). A gatherer is able to wander through a forest, having an awareness of their surroundings so as to be able to spot a likely snack. Its an intuitive thing. But what if that brain development becomes confused? 

The task of looking for data and information is more related to hunter mentality that gatherer. Perhaps this is this is why dyslexia is also higher in men? And why it is hereditary? Our brains are confused, are we hunters, or gatherers? I’ve not really sat down and thought through or researched that one though, so please be gentle with this hypothesis!

Back to the point though. It seems something to do with a lack of development in the area of being able to focus on one thing and filter out information that is irrelevant. 

Put simply, its the difference between a straw and a water fall. You would suck water through a straw. I would stand under a waterfall holding a glass and hope some went it. The problem is, the force of the water just sploshes it out the glass again!

So memory difficulties are a result of not being able to focus on one thing at a time so as to promote non-disruptive memory formation. We over come that by creating creative memory techniques BTW. 

Reading problems…we are distracted by the patterns that occur in the whites between the words, making it harder to decode those black squiggles. Even though it is at a subconscious level, it is enough that our memory patterns are disrupted. Short term memory is a key part of the process of understanding sentences, and then to be able to understand the wider concepts the text is trying to explain.

Verbal processing is a problem because we have a million thoughts connected to your words where as most people have just one.

And they all arrive at once. That means we are thinking lots of things all the time, and trying to work out which ones we should use. That’s not stupidity, or laziness, that’s some complex brain power going on there that is!

“stop being distracted and concentrate” people scream at us. That’s like telling someone with one leg shorter than the other that they must walk proplerly. We’re not distracted, we just are taking in EVERYTHING and that takes a lot of thinking about. We are gathering…and its the gathering and being able to absorb massive amounts of information and play with it that makes us the artists and the creatives and the problem solvers. We just need to learn how to use our preferences for how we see the world and understand it, and our internal language, to put that information to good use.

In some recent research I have been doing into personality for college papers, I am starting to wonder about the impact of preferences, connected with our personalities. I am a strong intuitive/feeling person. I don’t deal with sensing the world or the world of logic so well, i am someone who sees potential, harmony, rhythm. But has that heightened sense been as a result of being dyslexic, or is dyslexic the result of that natural personality? If it is connected to who we are, then there can only be one conclusion: 

We aren’t sick. Dyslexia isn’t a disease, or an illness. It is a gift, it’s the way we are made. The world just needs to accept that we don’t all see it in the same way…its not just numbers and words. There is much much more to it than that.

We are the problem solvers, the creatives, the communicators. Give us space to breath, to live, to develop our gifts that don’t look like yours. Just because we can’t add up straight, or work out what that complex sentence means, or lose track in a film, or forget what you have told us as soon as you have said something, doesn’t make us wrong. It makes us different.

When it doesn’t look like dyslexia is a problem its because we have found other ways to solve it (its part of our creative problem solving gift!). I doodle when i am listening, because it seems to help my conscious brain do something so that the subconscious can get on with the remembering. Just because my doodles actually look like something doesn’t mean its any more than a doodle (see http://www.facebook.com/doodleopus for such things!). Some people stroke their hands…some fiddle with things. Some are really noisy, or talk to themselves. These are all just ways of lowering the volume/intensity of the information coming in so that we can make sense of what is important.

But please, instead of making fun of us, let us bless you. 

And a huge thanks to all those who do believe us, are patient with us, and allow us to thrive even when all we want to do is hide because its so hard. Which is why I want to thank my Missus, Anne-marie, without whom this dyslexic would have given up long ago, and who has to share a house with three dyslexics.

At least life is never boring.

Contributor: Rev Andrew Gray, Fresh Expressions Minister, England.


3 thoughts on “Dyslexia – Myth or Reality debate

Add yours

  1. To say dyslexia doesn’t exist is quite ignorant really. I wonder if there is such a thing as verbal dyslexia, I know for me though I tend to be ok writing, I find when it comes to speaking particularly on radio or any public speaking, if I don’t have notes I find my words and thoughts get mixed up, it’s like my brain is exploding with word confusion. I’ve worked with many students struggling with dyslexia, it’s real, and I’m so glad there is help out there for those who struggle!


  2. I honistly dont know where to start with this arical.

    As a disleix woman I find this HILIGHY insulting and makes no cents. you say that disylexic peoeple think diferently and there brains are underdevleoped but we shoudl not be called stupid and should be alowed to be difrent.. but that it dose not exsist…Make youre mind up and DO REASERCH!

    You are mistaking yourslef and your own persnality/dilexic experance/symtoms and are asuming they same for everyone.

    For exanple in youre artical you say you are not good at sients,logical and good at articalting youself oraly etc. You also alude to gender and the inequality of the dignises rates.( Do not get me started on your sexis huner gather BS!!)

    Let me start by saying almost ALL of the Genii/inventors and sientists of the 21st century hade ether dislexia or ADD or most commanly BOTH. Now I am no sientist but I like to think I’m logical. This list of sients (sutch as einstine and thomis eddison) should prove dilexic peole CAN be logical and good at sients. Now as to ADD and dilexia being realated there are so many studies there on gender gidnoses ratios and reason for being harder to catch in girls, and inteligents, peronalitys etc. In short manby of the things you mention. Please go read them.

    You say we are not good at articaulting ouselves yet I scored one of the highet in my highschool at english, my vocabulaty was always exeptinal and I can still recyt all my english quoets and poetry to the extent 6 years after graduating I can still recyt it. I was asked to teach my englosh class by my teacher once.

    my problems lie in actully spelling (Obviously!) and reading. And it took me YEARS of hard work to get better at reading and I don’t think my spelling will ever inprove. (Many profesinals gave up on me.)

    There are so many factors that you need to take into acount but the most inportant that you have sort of aluded to in our creative ablity to think outside the box etc is our COMPENSATION SKILLS.

    Mine as I have already mentiond is my ablity to oraly articulate myself.I have met many a dislexic person that has made it to the final year of school withoguth being able to read or write because they are smart know how to ask questions and speek. And many of you other dislexic people reading this, i’m sure have your own exanple as to where youre own compensation skills lie!!!

    While it is true we can be crative and good at other things it as dangerous to asume we are all alike and not take into acount that every one is difrent! Yes there are some univeral things we have in commen. ( Im assuming we all have a problem with reading and puting thoughts on paper/writing and somtimes reading out loud like you have also mentiond.) But that should not incure the other sumptions and lables you have so caualy thrown in there, and frankly the asumtions and gerlaistains you made are both ludicrus and worrying.

    youre ignrance in claiming dilsexia dose not exist is harmfull as it was my dignosess that got my the sport and help I needed to overcome these obsticals and hurdals in the persuit of my education. As im sure many other dilexics can testify to.

    In short Not all dislexic peole are bad at what you say or asume we all are, and we should be carfull when putting labels on things! Please seek out pforesioal dignoses on your typ /strenths and weekensess!

    Yes dislexia can be a hinderance in some aeryas of our life and work but it can also be a blessing. We need to genarete more awarness of this and seek out help, rights and soport form government/educational/work institutions for those strugeling. But also get others to see and embrace the skills and srenths we have also been gifted with.

    Yes dilseica exitst! There are many medical and phsycological journals on it! Go read them! Althoght this dose mean our brains may be wired a little difrently it dose NOT mean we are not inteligent or valuble (Please go look at that list of genii! go reaserch it on line now! I garintee you feel better!)

    Lastly, we need to change the way we think about inteigents,and our education system. Often our so called ‘education system’ dose not actully mesure inteligents. And we limate many of the typs of intelignats, and in doing so, marginlaise numorus difrent peole, while loosing out on so much! We need to seek out more soport and awareness for this (And many other learning diablities etc.)

    Finaly I agree with some of the things you have said HOWEVER! Next time you write an artical PLEASE do not genrilase, insult, be sexists, and NOT do reaserch as this gives a very limeted view into dislexia as a whole and can confuse those NOT aware of our condition/ and or way of thinking etc.


    1. The article above is just a view from an, individual from an upsetting article that appeared in the Daily Mail and is a response to it – the article on this website does NOT call anyone stupid – it’s also just a comment and in no way is supposed to be an exhaustive research. Thanks for your comment though, and you’re right the world is way to quick to generalise which is never good. – your response should be directed to the daily mail article which the post on this website is IN NO WAY DEFENDING!


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