Brain Scans Show Dyslexics Read Better with Alternative Strategies

Abigail Marshall © 2003 DDAI. (Updated 2015, 2017)

Scientists studying the brain have found that dyslexic adults who become capable readers use different neural pathways than nondyslexics. This research shows that there are at least two independent systems for reading: one that is typical for the majority of readers, and another that is more effective for the dyslexic thinker

NIMH Study of Dyslexic Adults

Brain Image from NIMH Study
Ordinary readers use left-brain systems, but dyslexic readers rely more on right brain areas.

Researchers Judith Rumsey and Barry Horwitz at the National Institute of Mental Health used positron emission tomography (PET) to compare regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) among dyslexic and nondyslexic men. The dyslexic subjects had childhood histories of dyslexia and continued to show some symptoms related to reading, but their overall reading ability varied. For some word recognition and comprehension tasks, the dyslexic men scored as well as or better than controls.

Research correlating brain activity with reading ability showed an intriguing inverse relationship between reading ability and cerebral blood flow patterns. For nondyslexic controls, stronger activation of left hemispheric reading systems, including the left angular gyrus, corresponded to better reading skill. For dyslexic subjects, the opposite was true: the stronger the left-hemispheric pattern, the poorer the reader. In contrast, increased reading skill for dyslexics was correlated with greater reliance on the right hemispheric systems.

The researchers explained:

“The rCBF–reading test correlations identified a region in/near the left angular gyrus as significantly related to level of reading skill within both groups. These correlations were uniformly positive for the control group and uniformly negative for the dyslexic group, indicating diametrically opposed relationships in the two groups….within the control group higher rCBF was associated with better reading skill and that within the dyslexic group higher rCBF was associated with worse reading skill, or more severe dyslexia.”

Dyslexic men show opposite patterns from controls, with reduced reading ability as left brain use increases.

The researchers observed a similar pattern in the right hemisphere, in an area near the right angular gyrus. In the right brain area, the dyslexic men had higher activation levels than controls during the word reading tasks, which correlated positively to improved reading ability. For the nondyslexic control group, such activation pattern was negatively correlated to reading ability.

Comparison of Reading Outcomes among children followed since kindergarten

A team of researchers led by Sally Shaywitz at Yale University confirmed that dyslexic individuals who become good readers have a different pattern of brain use than either nondyslexic readers, or dyslexics who still read poorly. The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to evaluate brain activity among 20-year-old dyslexic men and women selected from a group that had been followed since kindergarten. All the dyslexic subjects had a history of severe reading impairment in early childhood. However, while some of the students continued to struggle with reading throughout their school years (“persistently poor readers”), others improved by their high school years, becoming accurate readers with strong comprehension skills (“accuracy improved readers”).

Dyslexic subjects from both groups as well as non-dyslexic control subjects were asked to perform reading tasks involving phonological processing (non-word rhyming test) and ascertaining meaning (semantic category test).

Differences with Phonetic Processing

During the non-word rhyming test (“Do leat and jete rhyme?), both dyslexic groups showed less activation of the left posterior and temporal areas of the brain as compared to the control group. However, the dyslexics who were improved readers also had greater activation of right temporal areas and both right and left frontal areas.

Ordinary readers use the left temporal area for sounding out words.
Poor readers do not use the left temporal area to find the sounds of words.
Capable dyslexic readers show greater reliance on right brain areas.

Differences on Meaning-Based Tasks

For the semantic category test (“Are corn and rice in the same category?”) the persistently poor readers showed brain activity very similar to the nondyslexic control group, despite the fact that their reading performance was significantly impaired. Like the control group, the persistently poor readers activate left posterior and temporal systems. In contrast, the improved dyslexic readers bypassed this area entirely.

Ordinary readers also use the left temporal area when reading for meaning.
Persistently poor readers show brain activity like non-dyslexic readers.
Dyslexics who are capable readers  do not activate the left temporal region.

Impact of Findings for Education

These brain imaging studies show that teaching methods that may work well for a large majority of schoolchildren may be counterproductive when used with dyslexic children. Teaching methods based on intensive or systematic drill in phonemic awareness or phonetic decoding strategies may actually be harmful to dyslexic children. Such teaching might simply emphasize reliance on mental strategies that are as likely to diminish reading ability for dyslexic children as they are to improve it, increasing both the frustration and impairment level of dyslexic students.

Davis Theory and Methods

Davis Learning Strategies® and Davis Dyslexia Correction® emphasize a creative, meaning-based strategy for acquisition of basic reading skills. Children (and adults) use clay to model the concepts that are associated with word meanings at the same time as modeling the letters of each word in clay. At the primary level, these methods provide a route to learning to read that seems easier for students with dyslexic tendencies than traditional instruction. Among older dyslexic children and adults, these methods routinely lead to very rapid progress in reading ability.

Modeling words in clay may help build the mental pathways that brain scan evidence shows to be crucial for reading development among dyslexic students.

Update: Different Brain Pathways

DTI Brain Scan

This image combines a DTI (diffusion tensor image)  image showing white matter pathways in the brain of a dyslexic man (in blue) overlaid on an image of the brain pathways of a person with more typical brain architecture (in gold).

The image shows that while the dyslexic man has somewhat less well-developed left brain connections, his right brain connections ae far more extensive than his non-dyslexic counterpart.

(From Leonard & Ekhert, Assymetry and Dyslexia)

See References

References cited:

  1. Horwitz B, Rumsey JM, Donahue BC (1998), Functional connectivity of the angular gyrus and dyslexia. Neurobiology: 95: 8939-8944. [Abstract]
  2. Rumsey, JM, Horwitz, B, et al (1999): A functional lesion in developmental dyslexia: left angular gyral blood flow predicts severity. Brain and Language, 70: 187-204. [Abstract]
  3. Shaywitz SE, Shaywitz BA, Fulbright R, et al (2003). Neural Systems for Compensation and Persistence: Young Adult Outcome of Childhood Reading Disability. Biological Psychiatry 54:25-33. [Abstract]
  4. Leonard CM, Eckert MA (2008). Assymetry and Dyslexia. Dev Neuropsychol, 33(6): 663-681, doi: 10.1080/87565640802418597. [Abstract]

Updates from Recent Research

  1. Hoeft F, McCandliss BD, Black JM, et al (2010). Neural systems predicting long-term outcome in dyslexia. PNAS, vol 108 no. 1: 361-366 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1008950108. [Abstract]
  2. Welcome SE, Leonard CM, Chiarello C (2010). Alternate reading strategies and variable asymmetry of the planum temporale in adult resilient readers. Brain and Language, 113: 73-83. [Abstract]
  3. Welcome SE, Chiarello C, Thompson PM, Sowell ER (2011).Reading Skill is Related to Individual Differences in Brain Structure in College Students. Human Brain Mapping 32 8):1194–1205. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21101. [Abstract]
  4. Waldie KE, Wilson AJ, Roberts R, Moreau D (2017). Reading network in dyslexia: Similar, yet different. Brain and Language, 174: 29-41. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2017.07.004. [Abstract]
  5. Cavalli E, Duncan LG, Elbro C, et al. (2017) Phonemic-Morphemic dissociation in university students with dyslexia: an index of reading compensation? Annals of Dyslexia, 67(1):63-84. doi: 10.1007/s11881-016-0138-y [Abstract]
  6. Cavalli E, Colé P, et al. (2017). Spatiotemporal reorganization of the reading network in adult dyslexia. Cortex, 92:204-221. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2017.04.01. [Abstract]
Citation Information

Marshall, Abigail. (2015). “Brain Scans Show Dyslexics Read Better with Alternative Strategies.” Davis Dyslexia Association International,

Research Updates from our Blog

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  • Mary

    Fascinating Research. Thank you for sharing it. I am a dyslexic who has learned to read fluently and it makes so much sense that our brains have adapted to process the information. However, as a person who cannot visualize, I have trouble imagining (no pun intended) how using clay would be helpful. I could see this as being useful for the subset of dyslexics who are hypervisualizers, but for those of us on the other side of the spectrum who rely on deep conceptual meaning and interrelationships to understand the world, how is this method helpful?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      The value of the clay modeling is in the creative process, in order for a person to gain an understanding of abstract concepts that cannot be pictured in any events, and to tie the meaning-based understanding to the letters. Non-dyslexic readers have an efficient pathway in their brain that connects the letters in words to sounds — but dyslexic brains seem to function more efficiently connecting the meanings to the printed word. One reason that clay is used is precisely because some people have difficulty creating or holding onto a mental image — this is likely because their thought process is so fast, so they are not consciously aware of mental images. Whether they are aware of mental imagery or not, they know what a box is and what a ball is. But when reading, they will tend to skip over or make errors with small abstract words (for example, “in” — because what is an “in” — it holds no meaning, so their mind doesn’t build the automatic recognition and connection of the letters i-n to the word.)

      A person using the Davis approach to model the word “in” with clay would have to explore the dictionary definition, think of ways the word can be used in a sentence, and then use the clay as a way of demonstrating the meaning of the word by way of example. Perhaps as a very simple model, the person chooses to model a ball in a box, along with an arrow to show that the ball is “in” the box. The actual meaning is still invisible — they might remember their model, but “in” is not a ball or a box or an arrow — it is a concept about the position of an object relative to another object. But in the course of making the model, the person has used their own brain to figure out exactly what the meaning is, in a way that can also be communicated to someone else (like a teacher or tutor) — which is an important step to allow the other person to help clarify any remaining confusion. (For example, if a child placed the ball in the model on top of rather than inside the box, they would have modeled “on” and not “in” — and that would signal to their support person that the concept was still unclear).

      Over time, the process of modeling is going to strengthen and reinforce those meaning-based connections — so not only will they reach the point where recognition of all the words they have modeled is automatic and instantaneous, but the strengthened neural pathways will also make it easier for them to increase their reading vocabulary over time; in other words, through practice they are building the word-learning skill in their brain.

      If you now read fluently with good comprehension but it took you longer to gain that skill, due to your dyslexia, you might want to think back about the process that you followed to cross the bridge from struggling reader to reading fluency.

  • Leah O

    Are there any studies into the act of writing if you are dyslexic? I have always been an avid reader. Likely because I didn’t know I was dyslexic until I was 23. I know my reading is slower and my ability to articulate comprehension – not the feeling of understanding. But I have noticed that my most pronounced area of struggle is writing. Reading, speaking are not as bad. But writing, no matter how much knowledge I can have about the systems and tactics used to write, it’s like delving into a different world.
    I can understand punctuation, use of words in meme’s and books, but when I attempt to write- there is no correlation between anything I know- and this alien wasteland that is writing. If it’s emotional, that’s easier. As soon as I am attempting to articulate something complex, or an essay, an official document – anything that follows a specific system- I struggle so much.

    I can know what I mean. Right down to my core. But articulating it- is literally hell.

    Have there been any MRI studies based on writing, for dyslexia studies? I would love to know if others experience similar? Like I’m a bit better at reading, but terrible at writing.

    Thanks in advance

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      That is a terrific question! And yes, it has been studied — here is a link to one study I found with full text online, which provides a very deep dive into the working of the brains of dyslexic and dysgraphic. The study is called “Contrasting brain patterns of writing-related DTI parameters, fMRI connectivity, and DTI–fMRI connectivity correlations in children with and without dysgraphia or dyslexia”.

      This study is far too complex for me to summarize here, but one part I found very interesting is that they found that dyslexic students (children in grades 4-9) had MORE brain connections and activity during resting states. They reported that the dyslexic group had “stronger functional connectivity than the control group during resting state (mind wandering)”. This resonated a lot with me because I get my best ideas for writing when I am lying in bed or taking a shower, but then have a really hard time remembering everything I thought of or writing it down later on. The researchers essentially seem to be saying that there is a lot more going on in the brains of their dyslexic subjects, but that makes their brains less efficient at retrieving all the information in order to actually write it down.

      Thanks for asking this question — I plan to add this study to our research database on this site (at /research/research-database).

  • Julian B.

    I’m a dyslexic myself researching into how dyslexics think for an adult learning college looking to improve their teaching and awareness, are there any more studies like this one that show/prove the differences in how dyslexics think compared to more neuro-typical people?

  • Don D

    Back in the middle 1990’s, I attended an educational seminar wherein a vendor was promoting a digital reading program based on brain scan “abnormalities,” which was a fairly recent endeavor back then. Just how “scientific” are the results of commercial reading programs that a student follows on a computer?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      The important science is the data tied to results of the program. Brain scans have established that dyslexics process both oral and written language differently, but simply identifying differences isn’t enough to design an intervention program. The Davis program described on this site was developed in a clinical setting long before brain imaging technology was available. So we know it works simply from experience with the program. But the brain evidence featured in the article on this page gives us some insight as to why it works so well to use strategies geared to dyslexic strengths.

  • Peter

    At the same time, we all know that, based on Masha Bell’s research on 7000 common words, an extrapolated 1/2 of the lexicon (tens of thousands of English words) have at least one irregularity. This is highly unusual. May languages have more regulr systems and have lower rates of dyslexia. There are 200+ ways of spelling 44 or so English sounds (phonemes). Regular spelling systems have similar #s. It is the English spelling system that is stupid! When is that going to be fixed? These research are done in English. Non-words tests force the users to use phonemic awareness, a method that des not work often since words or their letters are so poorly guiding the readers. In the article “ea” and “e-e” words have many outcomes (read, bear,… / here, there,…). Readers who were not read to when little did not acquire a passive vocabulary which will allow betteer guessing when confronted with irregular words. Raw memorization of words is often acquired that way (logographic memorization). Fix the bad system, not kids. The system is so bad that dyslexic “words” are okay (peopLE or centRE). IF a tool works erratically, a user will work erratically.

  • Peter J

    I’m dyslexic and I want to describe it from my perspective so people without can better understand it

    Forgive me, this is going to be a little all over the place

    I’ll start with a little back ground.
    They say dyslexia isn’t genetic but I don’t agree
    My dad is also dyslexic and his half brother on his dad’s side. My dad also has other half brothers not with the same dad who doesn’t have dyslexia. the females in my family sisters, mum and aunties don’t have it so I’m guessing in my case it’s passed down by the male gene in my family from father to son.

    I was taught to read at a later age than normal around the age of 5. I know some words but I don’t know others no matter how hard i try to remember them and that always baffled me why that is it’s like my hard drive is full up and can’t fit any more info on it like a memory stick once you’ve saved the maximum you can’t save any more so I have a what if I started earlier when my brain was developing before that window of opportunity closed when i had space on my brain drive, would I be a better reader now. (As they say you learn the most in your first 3 years of life)

    People may think its down to me not trying not working hard enough to learn to read but trust me I debunked that fairy I tried hard throughout my 36 years on this planet

    I would do reading with my mum every night rigorously and have signs of getting better but then bam my brain will suddenly reset and forget it all like a corrupted memory stick when you’re loading something on a computer and you see that bar going up then before it’s fully loaded it starts all over again thats how it was for me no matter how much I tried and god knows I tried every which way, sight reading, phonics i done it all I even read the oxford dictionary severely times to try to get words to stick but not much success. One second I would know the word and the next I don’t. I alway felt when I see words that I know the word but just can’t activate the room it’s stored in like i had a faulty key card at a hotel some times it works and some time it doesn’t

    Don’t get me wrong all the methods of learning definitely helped me get better especially phonic but still not on a level to hold down a office job.

    I think the only hope for that would be a anti dyslexic drug.

    • Amy

      I highly recommend the book The Gift of Dyslexia. The biggest difference about it is that people with dyslexia think on pictures instead of words. They also visualize things in 3D much better than average. This is just how the brain is wired, so there are never going to be drugs to change it. Our one friend has a very successful landscaping business, and he says all his layout is done in pictures instead of words. There are som real assets to this type of brain. I read somewhere that 1/2 of the NASA scientists have dyslexia, because they are often brilliant and ‘out of the box’ thinkers. The book I’m talking about is written by a man who had severe dyslexia and has learned to overcome it, and if is written in an easy way to read. All the best!

  • Justine K

    I am trying to understand all this information, but being dyslexic myself, I am having difficulty trying to comprehend. Which I am sad to admit that I am embarrassed about not being able to understand.

    I want to be there for my son and walk him through this school process with this information in my mind knowing that I share the same struggles. But it is difficult trying to help him when I had to cope and learn it all on my own, I am not sure the “right way” to be effective. I always bring up this to my son’s teachers (3rd grade) and it’s like none of them take me seriously. He is a good kid and gets his homework done, but still struggles on all his tests. This was almost exactly my tract record. However my dad and mom didn’t want me to be “labeled” so they just took me to so many tutors and after school things, that I was too exhausted to do anything else. I don’t want that for my son. I want to get him the right help now, so he can start using his right side of the brain and move forward with the rest of his life.

    Maybe I will go back through the article and listen to it read to me a couple of times and I can understand it better that way.

    I am also in the process of writing a book and a big part of it is the struggle i’ve had with this learning disability, I am so glad that I stumbled upon your website.

    Thank you!

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Think of it this way: Because of differences in dyslexic brains, it is much harder for dyslexics to read using strategies that come naturally to others (such as sounding out words through phonics). But there are different mental strengths that can be used for reading, that are much easier for dyslexics. So when dyslexics are able to learn how to use those natural abilities to read — reading becomes much easier. The brain scans show that dyslexics who have become good readers are using their brains differently than typical readers.

  • Helen

    Hi Abigail
    Thank you for your very informative research articles. I am a UK teacher (re-trained in 2011 as Dyslexia specialist, now ALMOST a Davis Facilitator). Also married to a dyslexic and have two dyslexic children.
    A question I have as a result of reading latest research on Right brain/Left brain scans:
    Has anyone done scans of what happens in the non-dyslexic brain when using Davis approach? ie. will all children benefit equally from it or does it really only suit right-brained people?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      The Davis tools can be used by anyone, whether dyslexic or not — as long as they are given a form of orientation consistent with their learning style. For example, an non-dyslexic person would probably be more comfortable with Davis Alignment rather than the minds-eye Orientation approach. In schools where Davis Learning Strategies has been implemented at the primary level, all children have done well and all are able to effectively use and integrate Davis tools.

      The main difference is simply that for an older nondyslexic child who has already learned to read well, there would be no particular benefit in introducing a different approach for reading. Their brains have already adapted to read efficiently. Ideally each person should be able to acquire reading skills relying on the mental pathways that are the most comfortable for their own thinking style.

  • Sandy R

    Collin K

    I have two children with learning difficulties. One Dyslexia and one ADD/ADHD and dyspraxia..I also think Dyslexia. I agree with all of your statements about the genius behind these conditions. However as a parent I am looking for support for my children’s self esteem. One is ok and the other is losing his confidence, displaying anxiety and in some stages depression. Right now anything that will support him through the current education system will be of benefit to him…get him through it alive…If I can do that then I know he will fly. My heart is breaking for my children as I see and know their awesomeness but feel as mum right now I don’t count.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Sandy, I think that self esteem goes up when the child understands and can use the strengths that are part of the dyslexic mind. That’s why the Davis program is built around giving tools for mental control and using strategies based on dyslexic strengths (like creativity) to address problems with reading. Bottom line, the child needs to experience success and have that success be connected to to their abilities.

  • Neill O

    I am currently working as a Writing tutor at a community college and have been called upon to tutor many different subjects such as Phonics. I feel out of my realm of expertise. Please help!

  • Kelly

    Very, VERY well said Daniel!

  • Daniel H

    This suggests that given the same input / problem to solve, the left brained non-dyslexic person is likely to come up with an anticipated outcome. Where as the right brain person with so-called dyslexia is going to deal with the problem very differently and will most likely produce a very different outcome.
    So long as we examine and expect a particular mind set as being correct (conventionally that of a left brained thinker, also regarded as normal) then we will loose all those people that have the ability to comprehend the world differently. There are many examples (such as Einstein) who would have been sifted out by our education system as a dyslexic and failed all our current examinations! This is obviously not to say that all dyslexics are geniuses but almost certainly most are worthy of very much more than our current system is recognising and could be part of the solution to the ‘out of the box’ thinking that is so often needed.

    • Janet

      Very much in agreement.

    • Colin K

      Hi Daniel and Janet,

      May I add some input into your excellent comments. This year I retired, so my education took place BC, ( before computers and calculators). but AD ( after the dinosoars).

      My dyslexia was not noticed at school or Uni. Like Mr Davis I was excellent at science and engineering, but terrible at English language (reading) , history, French especially with the small words without visualisation.
      Ten years ago, I did a part time degree in Occupational Therapy, ( 3 out of a 4 year course) at a Uni in London. It seemed that a very large percentage of our class, and the year below, had been diagnosed as Dyslexic. The Uni was offering a free diagnostic test for those who passed the assessment. So I was intrigued…..
      I blagged my way onto the test as I was interested in Cognitive Assessment, having just done a secondment in Stroke rehabilitation as part of my course. Well I was diagnosed with a ‘mild ‘form of Dyslexia’ despite having spent most of my adult years studying different subjects.
      Back in around 1984 , whilst working as a Scientist in the Chemical Industry, I attended a weeks career assessment course run by an Independent company. I did brilliantly in the problem solving test, getting scores that beat the top directors of our Multi National French Company, but terrible in other tests. The computer character assessment, at the end of the week, was that I was a highly creative megalomaniac. I wanted to take over the world in an artistic way. My dyslexia hadn’t n been diagnosed then, but the assessment was correct.
      The company refused to believe it was correct. claiming that I had blatently fooled the computer as I wasn’t ‘normal’. Strangely, Hitler was very artistic and a vegetarian, Winston Churchill was also very artistic. Draw your own conclusions.

      I have this tentative theory that perhaps half the population is ‘Dyslexic’ , but is never diagnosed as such. it’s never a ‘learning diasbility’ but as Mr Davis says It’s clearly a gift. To be ‘cured’ would destroy who I am.

      Anyway, fast forward, I am now retired, living in China. and recently head hunted into teaching young Chinese children to speak English. This seems to be the latest fad amongst those who have some cash to spare. However, it seems the custom to allow parents to sit in to the lessons. The parents insist that I spend the whole time repeating the same words Parrot Fashion., until their children submit. I refuse for obvious reasons, (see the comments on this site regarding repetitive learning ) and I am removed from the class.
      It is interesting because there is no logic in learning the sound of Chinese characters, its purely memorising things without logic. But this does not work with English, which is not entirely logical. I suspect Parrot Fashion is probably ok in Chinese.

      I am slowly trying to introduce the concept of Dyslexia here, especially as we have one young boy who is brilliant at English but show signs of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity and antisocial behaviour. All of which I recognise from my youth, I am slowly trying to adopt a multi dimensional approach to English teaching to include, pictures, music and fun. (as I enjoy all three).
      I have been asked to teach 5-6 year olds, and 7-8 year olds, all in Parrot Fashion. All lessons have thankfully been a disaster, and I have thankfully been replaced So far I have been teaching 4x 11-12 year olds, for 2 months, despite one mother constantly complaining about lack of “Parrots’, I am still in business.
      Good luck to you all. Thanks for such an intelligent website. By the way I discovered it via borrowing the ‘Gift Of Dyslexia ” book from our library in UK shortly after my diagnosis. A Brilliant Book for everyone to read- and that is from someone who has problems reading books.
      Best wishes from China

      • Professor

        I also am an educator, but interpreted this very differently. I don’t think they’re saying we should change the kids, they’re saying we need to change how we teach in order to reach the people who learn differently.

        • Monica R

          You are exactly right. Individuals with dyslexia need a multi-sensory approach to learning. It needs to be taught explicitly, systematically, and include visual, auditory, tactile and kinestitic strategies. Most importantly, it needs to be reviewed and practiced. Thanks

          • Red A

            U no. All my life i thought i had a problem. Simple things like knowing who sang certain songs was easy for my friends. But it was very hard for me. Growing up i loved to read. But i could read the same book over and over and enjoy it every time. Over the years i had to teach myself in my way.
            When i was young. I taught myself how to wire and install heating n cooling systems in a house the proper way within 2 years. I even argued that the calculation for sizing these systems was wrong. So i sized them my way. I was told by so called experts that they were to big. But i never had 1 homeowner compaint. Most houses have major air leaks And these so called energy eff windows failed within a couple of years I was the only one who could deliver a good cool system in the middle of Aug.
            I never understood why something that i thought was so simple. Educated people didnt get. Lol. Now i no. It only took 54 years to figure out why i am like i am. Sad that it took so long.

      • Michelle C.

        Dyslexia and disability are two words that do not belong together. However, people with dyslexia are disadvantaged when taught in a way that doesn’t respect and take advantage of their unique talents.

        Teaching dyslexic people to use their left brain when reading is a detriment to them. Teaching a dyslexic this way is worse than ineffective. It is negative.

        A dyslexic person should be allowed, encouraged, and taught to use their right brain when reading. They should be taught to use their brain in the most effective use of their equally intelligent brain—not shackled to use their beautiful brain the way everybody else needs to.

        I’m stumped trying to write an analogy that highlights the benefits of having dyslexia but demonstrating how negative it is to only provide one teaching format. It’s on the tip of my little dyslexic tongue though.

        Here’s what I got so far. What if I told you the easiest way to walk from the kitchen to the front door was to follow these instructions exactly?
        1. After pushing the button in and down, open the dog gate
        2. Walk through the den to the door
        3. Open the den door and the foyer will be on the other side of the door

        Would I be right? Are the instructions the “easiest way” for all people?

        What if someone discovered (for them, personally) that opening the dog gate every time was one extra, time consuming, and unnecessary step? What if this person instead used these instructions?
        1. Step over the dog gate
        2. Walk through the den to the door
        3. Open the den door and the foyer will be on the other side

        Who is the dyslexic in my analogy? It doesn’t matter. The point is telling someone there is one, and only one, best way to do something is inaccurate.

        Dyslexia is not a disability. It is a strength. Just like not being dyslexic is a not a weakness.

        And if people would get out of our way, we were stubborn enough to find our own path, and science can continue to explain…

        Well, by the time you and I have grandchildren, maybe being dyslexic will mean nothing more than a declaration of a preferred learning style. Because that is all dyslexia is—having a preferred learning style than is different than someone without dyslexia.

        From one mom to another, I applaud you. Your willingness to dig through a well written article but packed full of fascinating information might seem more difficult to you than you think it is for other people. But dollars to doughnuts, while you were reading, your beautiful dyslexic brain was probably, and simultaneously, analyzing the information.

        Your brain was probably doing more than one thing at the same time: reading and immediately applying the information.

        I think some of us stop in mid sentence to digest information. By digesting information I mean we take what we’ve read, analyze it, apply it to previous data, and estimate the validity all in that short mid sentence break.

        Then we go back and re-read the sentence or paragraph. We may even go back and start from the beginning of the article. Conventional wisdom would describe this activity as “being a slow reader.” I say no.

        I think some people apply information immediately while constantly evaluating it’s worth. And other people read faster and then apply and evaluate.

        Who gets to the finish line sooner? It doesn’t matter. I think it is a tie.

        But what if it is the dyslexic mind that crosses the finish line first by either 1) deciding not to continue reading an unworthy article or 2) having already evaluated the information by the time they finish reading (whereas some people read and then begin the evaluation process)?

        The second reason I applaud you is because you asked a question when you had a question. You strike me as a caring mom that doesn’t weigh being potentially embarrassed as being more important to avoid than weighing your child’s happiness. If only every kiddo had a mom with values like yours. And you asked a thought provoking question I enjoyed considering and responding to.

      • Michelle C.

        Collin, you may find this article interesting:

        Dyslexia is a difficulty learning to read right? But what if being able to read in a different language requires different skills than required in the English language.

        The Chinese Language is specifically addressed in this short article.

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