Gift or Disability
If dyslexia is a gift, why do we still call it a disability?
Dyslexia reflects a different way of thinking and learning, and not a mental defect. When provided with the proper tools for learning, dyslexic people can succeed in school and at the workplace, and they should not be stigmatized or discriminated against because of their dyslexic characteristics.
However, even though dyslexics have many gifts and talents, the problems associated with dyslexia can be a very real disability to adults and children alike if they are unresolved, or if the individual encounters discrimination in education or employment because of them.
Some skills, like basic literacy, are essential to get along in today’s world. Other skills are not as important, but can be a barrier to dyslexic people because of societal and cultural expectations. We should not deny the reality of the problems that dyslexics face: they can not become better readers or spellers merely by ‘working harder’ or ‘applying themselves’ or ‘paying attention’.
We can help if we:
- Relieve dyslexic people from expectations of performance that are not all that important in today’s world. (Example: Does it matter if a person has messy handwriting and poor spelling if they are proficient with a word processor?)
- Provide appropriate tools in schools and the workplace, especially now that computer-based technology (such as voice-to-text dictation software) is readily available and inexpensive.
- Provide dyslexic people of all ages with appropriate educational tools and resources, geared to their learning style, for areas such as basic literacy where it is important for them to succeed.
(Answer by Abigail Marshall)