What is Dyslexia? by a Protégé Artist

“If you couldn’t spell or couldn’t add up or remember the area of a circle is pie R squared, then the solution was simple, you were beaten till you could. I may have been dyslexic but I had no excuse. I just couldn’t get it right. When I gave the inevitable wrong answer it was either more lines or a beating. I grew almost to prefer the beatings since at least they were quick.” (Richard Branson – founder of Virgin enterprises)

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that mainly affects reading and spelling. Dyslexia is characterised by difficulties in processing word-sounds and by weakness in short-term verbal memory; its effects may be seen in spoken language as well as written language. The current evidence suggests that these difficulties arise from inefficiencies in language-processing areas in the left hemisphere of the brain, which, in turn, appear to be linked to genetic differences.

Many Dyslexics overcome early problems with literacy and go on to earn advanced degrees and pursue successful careers; a high level of motivation coupled with strong encouragement and mentorship have been identified as factors leading to their success.

Evolutionary Hypothesis

This theory states that reading is an unnatural act, carried out by humans for an exceedingly brief period in our evolutionary history. It has been less than a hundred years that most western societies promoted reading by the mass population and therefore the forces that shape our behaviour have been weak.

There is no evidence that our pathology underlies dyslexia but much evidence for cerebral variation or differences. It is these essential differences that are taxed with the artificial task of reading. Because spoken language is naturally learnt in the first few years of development, similarly, written language is best learnt at the same early age. It suggests that many forms of dyslexia are a result of introducing reading too late in neurodevelopment.

Phonological Hypothesis

States that dyslexics have a specific impairment in the representation, storage and retrieval of speech sounds.

It explains dyslexics’ reading impairment on the basis that learning to read an alphabetic system requires learning the correspondence between letters and constituent sounds of speech. If these sounds are poorly represented, stored or retrieved, the foundation of reading by phonic methods for alphabetic systems, will be affected accordingly.

Famous Dyslexics

  • Richard Branson – Entrepreneur, founder of Virgin enterprises
  • Orlando Bloom – Actor
  • George W Bush – 43rd President of USA
  • Cher – Singer
  • Tom Cruise – Actor
  • Carl Gustaf XVI – King of Sweden
  • Joseph Fiennes – Actor
  • Noel Gallagher – Musician
  • Whoopi Goldberg – Actress
  • Anthony Hopkins – Actor
  • Keira Knightley – Actress

Are you Dyslexic?

There is a long-standing theory that people diagnosed with dyslexia have advanced skills in creativity, physical co-ordination and empathy with others. Teachers working with dyslexic children and teens see examples of their creative and imaginative drawings in school, and their skills in visual thinking, sports, games and other activities, which require physical co-ordination that many non-dyslexic children find hard.