What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia literally means 'trouble with words'. It is the term used to describe difficulties with spelling, writing and reading. The challenges can come in many different forms and are not limited to reversals of letters and words, a common misconception.

The Gift

Ronald D. Davis, author of 'The Gift of Dyslexia' discovered that dyslexics have a natural ability, a gift, to see mental images as if they are real, and to perceive these images from many different perspectives. Many dyslexics have achieved fame because of this gift, not in spite of it - as the list below shows.

Famous Dyslexics

  • Albert Einstein
  • Leonardo DaVinci
  • Winston Churchill
  • Walt Disney
  • Cher
  • Thomas Edison
  • Tom Cruise
  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Charles Schwab
  • Richard Branson
  • William B. Yeats
  • Henry Ford

  • The talents and accompanying challenges vary enormously, but dyslexics often share these common traits - they have vivid imaginations, are intuitive and insightful, very curious and are highly aware of their environment.

    This perceptual talent works very well in the three dimensional world...

    But leads to confusion and challenges in the two dimensional world of symbols and print...

    The Challenge

    The symbols used in reading and writing, such as the letters of the alphabet, punctuation marks, and numerals, have to be seen from one perspective only for accurate recognition. For the dyslexic this is not always the case and their struggle with language is further compounded by the way they think.

    There are three parts to every word:

    The word looks like knight
    The word sounds like "nite"
    The word means
    (picture meaning)

    There are two main thought processes:

    • thinking with words
    • self talk in mind
    • speed of conversation
    • thinking with pictures
    • mental or sensory imagery
    • faster than consciously aware

    Most people can think in both modes. Dyslexics prefer to think in multi-dimensional images. As they read, they form pictures for the meanings of words.

    But many common words in our language do not have picture meanings, such, as, the, was, it, and, so, on.

    The cat sat on the mat

    Each time the picture thinking process is interrupted by a blank, understanding is lost, and the resulting confusion often leads to mistakes. There are 217 words (sight words) that do not have picture meanings, which make up half of all reading material, no matter what grade level. These common words are the hardest words for the dyslexic to read because of the lack of picture meaning and resulting confusion!

    Typically dyslexics have a low threshold for confusion, a point at which they can no longer remain focused or mentally present. This threshold is affected by a variety of factors such as:

  • Sight words
  • Print fonts and sizes
  • Sounds
  • Noise
  • Fear
  • Poor lighting
  • Punctuation
  • Medication
  • Change
  • Stressful situations
  • Time pressure
  • Not enough rest/tired