According to Austin Learning Solutions, it’s estimated that one in every ten people in the United States has dyslexia. That makes for around 40 million people in the country with this disability, but despite the sheer magnitude of that number, a lot of us just don’t know much about or understand this condition.
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If you’re not dyslexic, it can be quite difficult to understand what it’s like. It’s all too easy to fall into the “work it off” trap—thinking if a dyslexic person just did more and applied themselves, they could simply get past the condition. That, however, is not the case at all.
People with dyslexia can’t just turn it off or magically get past the condition. Their minds are brilliant, but they’re also hard to focus. It’s a gift and a curse at the same time: they can see things from many different perspectives, but it’s hard to make sense of all of those different points of view.
As a result, people with dyslexia aren’t always the easiest to understand or live with, because their brains just don’t work like ours. Even if you love a person who has dyslexia, living with it every day can wear on your nerves. They may forget things, believe they’ve done or said things that they haven’t, be less socially aware than people normally are and be disorganized and messy.
The best way to be more patient and less frustrated with someone in your life who has dyslexia is by gaining a deeper understanding of the condition, so here are 13 things to keep in mind if someone you love has dyslexia to help get you started.
1. There Are Daily Life Challenges
Dyslexia is more than just a person who has a hard time writing, reading and using numbers. They also see the world differently than you do, communicate in a different way and struggle with organization. This is something that impacts every area of their life; it’s not just a roadblock when they go to read directions or take a test. Keep this in mind the next time you see them struggling with what you would consider a simple task, as they are dealing with things you’ve probably never experienced.
2. They May Seem Different
Despite having normal or high intelligence, a person with this condition may not always make sense in conversation. This is largely because they are seeing so many different perspectives at the same time. They may say things that aren’t suitable for conversation or put forth some strange ideas, so learn not to take it personally, and don’t react in immediate anger.
3. Details Are A Lot Of Work
When you have dyslexia, your brain just isn’t as efficient as a non-dyslexic person’s when it comes to processing sounds and letters. This means they have to work much harder when it comes to things that involve centering on the details, like reading and using numbers.
4. Different Days Can Mean Different Levels Of Function
Sometimes, the person with dyslexia in your life may have a great day and seem to be getting better. But on other days, it can seem like it’s getting worse. There’s no pattern to this or reason behind it; that’s just how it is, so don’t try to find the magic “cure” in the days when they are doing better—just enjoy it!
5. They Are Quite Creative
As noted by Austin Learning Solutions, people with dyslexia are often very creative and excel in areas where thinking outside the box is an advantage, such as the arts, math, electronics and computer science. Learn to admire the creativity in the person with dyslexia in your life, as it can be a wonderful thing!
6. They’re Seeing Things You Don’t
The effects of dyslexia vary by person, but they can see things like letters flipping around, words moving around or words moving right off a page. It can be like trying to read an entire book that’s in captcha or being moved around by a small and excited child.
7. They’re Often Overwhelmed
Because they are seeing so many different possibilities at once, their thoughts may become distorted and all mixed up. It’s very hard to sort out a mass of information coming right at you at the same time and deduce what’s appropriate or necessary.
8. They May Have Attention Deficiency Disorder (ADD), Too
According to the Dyslexia Research Institute, people with dyslexia are more likely than people without it to have ADD. This adds a whole other layer of difficulties when it comes to just about all areas of daily life.
9. Their Thoughts May Become Reality
Sometimes, a person with dyslexia will insist something happened when it didn’t. This is not because they are being dishonest or difficult—they can actually perceive thoughts as reality. They also may express themselves in unusual ways and not realize that their message just didn’t come across in a coherent way.
If you’re becoming frustrated with the person in your life who has this condition because they are insisting something happened when it didn’t, take a deep breath and remember this particular fact.
10. They May Be Unaware They Have Dyslexia
The International Dyslexia Association says that many people with dyslexia go undiagnosed. This is why it’s not easy to determine how many people have dyslexia in the world today. People who are not diagnosed often falsely believe they are not intelligent, and it can lead to difficulties in their work and academic lives and low self-esteem.
11. They Will Never Be “Cured” Of Dyslexia
People with dyslexia can learn to spell and read, but the condition will never be cured. According to the Regents of the University of Michigan, intervention and help can make living with the condition easier and reduce the impact on their self-esteem.
12. They Use Their Brain In A Different Way
A person with dyslexia isn’t using their brain the way a person without dyslexia does. Their brain is not using the left hemisphere, which is the area needed for reading, to its full potential, and there is a difference in function in the corpus callosum, which is the tissue bridge between the sides of the brain. Basically, their brain isn’t always sending information to the right place for processing.
13. They Can Be Highly Successful
People with dyslexia can still be very successful in life. According to Understood.org, famous people with this condition include actress Whoopi Goldberg, director Steven Spielberg, NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, actor Henry Winkler, news anchor Anderson Cooper, the legendary entertainer Cher and professional chef Jamie Oliver.
Use your better understanding of dyslexia to be more sympathetic, kind and patient with the person who has this condition in your life. With your support and encouragement, they can reach new heights and handle whatever challenges their condition poses to them!