While only about 5 percent of children are formally diagnosed with dyslexia, it is thought that as many as one in five Americans have some degree of the disorder. While dyslexia can’t be cured, there are many ways that people with dyslexia can overcome their symptoms to lead highly successful lives. Some think that people with dyslexia have lower-than-average intelligence and are labeled as “dumb” or “retarded.” However, those labels could not be further from the truth. Many high profile people have discovered ways to work around their symptoms and become dyslexia success stories.
Tom Cruise, Ansel Adams, George Patton, Nolan Ryan, Henry Ford, and Whoopi Goldberg are just a few famous people who have lived with dyslexia. Dyslexia success stories can be found in every walk of life, among men and women, children and adults, and in every profession. Although each person listed above has had difficulty reading, they have been able to work with their symptoms to find great success. Dyslexia research has shown that their success is due in large part to the way their brains think – dyslexics tend to be highly creative, divergent thinkers that allow them to complete reading-related tasks in a unique way.
For example, rather than relying solely on reading to acquire information, people with dyslexia can make use of audio books and computer programs that turn written text into audible speech. Memorization is also a common tactic used by those who have overcome their dyslexia symptoms. Actors, for example, have their lines read aloud to them, allowing them to memorize their parts. Business leaders have their subordinates report to them in person or via videochat rather than relying on email or text-based reports. Making these slight adjustments improves daily functioning by minimizing the necessity to read a lot.
Recent research shows that dyslexia is likely caused by a malfunction in the way the brain processes language tasks. Typically, three areas of the left hemisphere are involved in reading: the parieto-temporal region, the inferior frontal gyrus, and the occipital-temporal area. The parieto-temporal region and the inferior frontal gyrus are thought to be involved in the methodical analysis of words. The occipital-temporal area, meanwhile, is thought to be responsible for instant recognition of whole words, as well as storage of a word’s spelling, pronunciation and meaning. Brain scans show that the best readers have a lot of activity in this area of the brain. Conversely, dyslexics do not.
Dyslexia success stories can be found among people from all walks of life, but one thing they have in common is a set of strategies to help them improve their functioning in spite of the different way their brains are wired. Developing these strategies and providing treatment in childhood is highly important. In school, dyslexic children should have accommodations that help them be successful, such as more time to take tests and alternate methods of presenting written work. At home, parents and siblings can act as a scribe while a dyslexic child dictates their thoughts. Treatment regimens, such as the vestibular training offered by the Learning Breakthrough Program, have also been shown to help children minimize or overcome their symptoms in order to maximize functioning. For additional information about dyslexia and dyslexia treatments, visit the Learning Breakthrough Program’s dyslexia page.