Did you know that Dyslexia is not related to IQ? Einstein was dyslexic, and he had an estimated IQ of 160. According to the Mayo Clinic, dyslexia is described as a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding). Also called a reading disability, dyslexia can affect areas of the brain that process language.
However, not all reading and writing is lost. Take a look at the four authors below. What do you think they have in common?
- John Irving, National Book Award Winner and author of The World According to Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany and other extraordinary works of fiction that have enjoyed both critical and commercial success
- The bestselling author of the Captain Underpants and Dog Man series, books that have made legions of kids laugh (even the most reluctant of readers), Dav Pilkey.
- Phillip Schultz, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
- Newberry Medalist and master of timeless historical fiction, including The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Gold Rush Girl, and Crispin: Cross of Lead, Avi.
It might be hard to believe, but all four of these acclaimed authors struggled to learn how to read. All have their own unique combinations of gifts and deficits characteristic of those with dyslexia. This pervasive and often misunderstood learning difference affects an estimated 17-20% of the population and accounts for nearly 80% of all children receiving special education services in public schools today.
Also, the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity states, "dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in learning to read. Dyslexia takes away an individual’s ability to read quickly and automatically, and to retrieve spoken words easily, but it does not dampen their creativity and ingenuity.”
Creativity and Ingenuity are Key Factors
It is precisely that creativity and ingenuity that makes teaching a student with dyslexia to write so exciting and rewarding. These unpredictable students will almost certainly struggle with spelling, punctuation, and the organization of their ideas, but they’ll also surprise you with unexpected insights and thoroughly unique perspectives. As the four authors noted above have demonstrated, people with dyslexia can be excellent writers.
Developing Unique Skills
But how do they develop and hone their skills? After all, there is no one writing program with a compelling, authoritative research basis for use with students with dyslexia today. There are, however, many reading programs — such as Barton, Wilson, and Orton Gillingham — that are backed by strong, scientific research.
The Empowering Writers’ curriculum incorporates many of the research-based components of these programs and translates them into dyslexia-friendly writing instruction.
In the next blog post from this series about dyslexia, stay tuned for some free activities and learn how Empowering Writers can help your school or district implement these critical reading strategies.