Dyslexia – 8 Basic Abilities

Author
Ronald D. Davis © 1994. Excerpted from Chapter 1 of The Gift of Dyslexia. 
Antwerp Courthouse

Antwerp Courthouse, designed by dyslexic architect Richard Rogers.

Usually when people hear the word dyslexia they think only of reading, writing, spelling, and math problems a child is having in school. Some associate it only with word and letter reversals, some only with slow learners. Almost everyone considers it some form of a learning disability, but the learning disability is only one face of dyslexia.

Once as a guest on a television show, I was asked about the “positive” side of dyslexia. As part of my answer, I listed a dozen or so famous dyslexics. The hostess of the show then commented, “Isn’t it amazing that all those people could be geniuses in spite of having dyslexia.”

She missed the point. Their genius didn’t occur in spite of their dyslexia, but because of it!

Having dyslexia won’t make every dyslexic a genius, but it is good for the self-esteem of all dyslexics to know their minds work in exactly the same way as the minds of great geniuses. It is also important for them to know that having a problem with reading, writing, spelling, or math doesn’t mean they are dumb or stupid. The same mental function that produces a genius can also produce those problems.

 sculpture by dyslexic artist Rebecca Kamen

“Illumination”, sculpture by dyslexic artist Rebecca Kamen

The mental function that causes dyslexia is a gift in the truest sense of the word: a natural ability, a talent. It is something special that enhances the individual.

Dyslexics don’t all develop the same gifts, but they do have certain mental functions in common. Here are the basic abilities all dyslexics share:

  1. They can utilize the brain’s ability to alter and create perceptions (the primary ability).
  2. They are highly aware of the environment.
  3. They are more curious than average.
  4. They think mainly in pictures instead of words.
  5. They are highly intuitive and insightful.
  6. They think and perceive multi-dimensionally (using all the senses).
  7. They can experience thought as reality.
  8. They have vivid imaginations.

These eight basic abilities, if not suppressed, invalidated or destroyed by parents or the educational process, will result in two characteristics: higher than normal intelligence, and extraordinary creative abilities. From these the true gift of dyslexia can emerge — the gift of mastery.

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4 comments

  • Heidi S

    One of my special gifts that I attribute to my dyslexia is the ability to see discrepancies. Typos, misspellings, hidden pictures/words, puzzles, etc. jump out at me without even trying. I can glance at a series of symbols or pictures and notice the one that is missing or different. I have always had an unfair advantage at word puzzles and Where’s Waldo. LOL!

  • The King

    I have been diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age. Practice your abilitys you will unlock the real potential of this gift!! Never doubt your power. A business manager pulled me aside and said you natural abilitys you cannot Teach. I didnt realize his true message until recently.

  • Allison B (age 13)

    I have Dyslexia. I mostly try to think about the positive side of it and not the negative side. I have a special ability besides these 8 abilities. I have a minds eye. I have read The Gift of Dyslexia before… And I was glued to it! I have always wanted to basically see in the back of my head. So it’s kind of like a dream come true! I have had some treatment and I can process and think things way more clearly than before. It also encourages me to know that famous people have dyslexia! Thank you thank you thank you for the God-sent help!!!

  • Thanks for the wonderful work you do, and for including an image of my sculpture (http://www.dyslexia.com/about-dyslexia/dyslexic-talents/dyslexia-8-basic-abilities/)

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