By Jeanne Ongiyo
Dyslexia is a disorder whose name is derived from the Greek words ‘dys’ which means inadequate plus ‘lexis’ meaning words or language. We can therefore ascertain that dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects one’s ability to read, spell or even write as stated by a medical doctor in Medicine.Net. Unknown to many, dyslexia is a common disorder in Kenya that affects 1 out of every 5 people. Though it has not been given much attention, the Dyslexia Organization of Kenya has over recent years tried to raise awareness of the disorder by organizing annual walks to raise funds and support those with dyslexia in getting the therapy they need as dyslexia is a life- long condition with no cure.
Most medics state that dyslexia affects children but recent studies and emergent cases have shown that dyslexia is common even in full grown adults. It affects school-going children as well as the high and mighty with the most coveted jobs in the world. The likes of Albert Einstein, Whoopi Goldberg, Leornado da Vinci and Muhammad Ali are among the most influential talents who have been linked with dyslexia. Some may think that it comes as a result of neurological damage but in real sense dyslexia is a product of neurological development that occurs when then brain acquires more intellectual knowledge. The effects of this disorder vary from mild to severe but in all cases; dyslexia does not exhibit an overall effect on language but rather a weakness in the phonological module of the brain responsible for the formation of sounds in a language. Research has also shown that dyslexia not only affects sounds processed in the brain but also brings about a difficulty in processing mathematical functions. So if your knowledge in mathematics stretches as far as counting loose change or planning shopping guide expenditure like myself, you just might have dyslexia.
Persons with dyslexia are identified by the following symptoms which vary across all ages. In toddlers it may be trouble learning nursery rhymes or late talking. Among school going children the most notable symptoms are difficulty comprehending rapid instructions, reading below the expectation of one’s age and difficulty seeing or hearing the similarities and differences between letters and words. It is interesting in adults as the characteristic symptoms include difficulty in time management and shockingly, the inability to understand jokes that have a meaning not easily understood from common idiomatic expressions. Most persons who do not understand such deep-rooted jokes are often termed as slow or lacking a sense of humour but in real sense dyslexia may be the real reason behind their rather unfortunate nature.
Dyslexia is however a disorder that robs the affected person of an ability but comes bearing a number of gifts to the person’s advantage. According to Erika Huff, an author for Reading Horizons states that dyslexics have excellent comprehension of the stories read and told to them as well as exhibit excellent thinking skills in conceptualization, reasoning and imagination. Since the disorder undermines their reading capacity, dyslexics show great ability in areas that are not dependant on reading and because they automatically develop a special mode of thought that is totally independent of reading, dyslexics have a great gift of mastery which spearheaded the popular belief that they are able to read and write backwards. This is however a misconception that was brought about by the fact that most have been proven to see things three dimensionally which in turn affects how dyslexics look at words in a given text.
Dyslexics therefore have difficulty naming and writing letters in chronological or successive order which is commonly associated with children who are learning to read and write whether they are dyslexics or not.
Dyslexics also tend to be more creative, inquisitive and curious to understand things because they need to supplement what they lose through their inadequate reading capability. Dyslexics have a strong ability to view issues and situations from a wider perspective which gives much reason to why the list of the most influential personalities with dyslexia are either celebrated designers like Tommy Hilfiger, inventors like Alexander Graham Bell who brought the telephone into existence and award winning performers like Jim Carrey who despite the fact that most dyslexics are perceived not to understand deep-rooted jokes has been able to crack our ribs in the hilarious movies he has starred in over the years.