As a mother of a dyslexic ten-year-old, I must confess that I have not always thought of dyslexia as being a positive thing. I have been focussing on the barriers to my son’s learning, instead of thinking of the positives. Recently, when I saw that entrepreneur Richard Branson had launched a charity ‘Made by Dyslexia’ at https://madebydyslexia.org/ , to raise the profile of those who are dyslexic, I realised how negative my thinking had been. The charity’s aim is to change people’s perceptions about dyslexia amongst other things. In a public survey this year, commissioned by the charity through YouGov, findings showed that ‘only 3% of respondents believed dyslexia is a positive trait’ (madebydyslexia.com, 2017). Public perception of dyslexia causing difficulty in reading and spelling were the only two areas that concurred with the responses of dyslexic people. Positive traits such as being good at problem solving, lateral thinking, creativity and artistic talent scored under 20% in terms of how the public view dyslexics, contrasting sharply with the results of dyslexic respondents, which were between 77 to 84%. Instead of seeing the disadvantages by gauging how he performs at school, compared to his peers, I started to think about my son’s talents. For example, he loves playing games on his computer and has in the past said he wants to design games. I discovered an online project called ‘An hour of code’ at https://hourofcode.com/uk/learn . My son has recently been enjoying learning how to create themed games such as Minecraft and Star Wars using code blocks. I know those with dyslexic brains are often creative and able to think in 3D and therefore can be excellent computer software designers. He is also good at presenting information and public speaking. Next year, he will be a house captain at school because he spoke to, and presented himself well, to the school. Before, I felt despondent about what career or future my son might have. Now I feel positive, that his dyslexia can be used to his advantage. He may not be rich and famous like Richard Branson, but he can be happy in his working life and find a rewarding career with the right support and encouragement.
Lorna Murray – guest blogger