Dyslexia is a neurological learning disorder, characterized by difficulty reading and parsing linguistic information. Over 40 million Americans suffer from dyslexia, making it an extraordinarily widespread disorder. Life as a dyslexic can be extremely frustrating, especially before dyslexia is diagnosed, because people often mistake the symptoms of dyslexia as indicators of a less than average intelligence. In fact, most dyslexics are of above average intelligence and merely have difficulty with written communications.
There appears to be a genetic link that causes dyslexia, although dyslexic parents need not worry that they will necessarily have dyslexic children. Many families with a history of learning disabilities may have a history of dyslexia as well, however. In addition, it has been suggested that childhood hearing problems may lead to dyslexia, as being able to hear and communicate through spoken language is an important building block to successful written communication later in life.
Some dyslexics also suffer from dysgraphia, a condition in which the sufferer has extreme difficulty writing. Most, however, merely have difficulty spelling, discriminating between words of similar appearance, and comprehending written language. Because dyslexics often have difficulty reading, their writing may be stilted as well. Dyslexia can come in forms of varying severity, and it is rarely crippling as long as it is addressed by teachers and medical professionals.
If the condition is caught early enough, teachers can use specialized education techniques to help individuals with dyslexia. These include multisensory teaching programs with a strong emphasis on phonetic learning. Young dyslexics can be taught to parse information in the same way as people with conventional brain patterns, and even older students are capable of learning to read and write effectively. Most dyslexia can be alleviated with focused care and attention, and dyslexics can go on to succeed in college with additional help, such as more time to take tests and dictation software.
Like many learning disorders, dyslexia is not always negative. Dyslexia is often accompanied by a high level of creativity and unconventional thinking. In addition, dyslexic children have been shown to have more empathy and better cooperation abilities, perhaps brought on by their understanding of the difficulties other people might face in daily life. Many famous personalities, including Pablo Picasso, Thomas Edison, and Leonardo Da Vinci, were dyslexic. Because the dyslexic mind works differently from the conventional mind, dyslexics often have interesting insights into learning and society, and many have made valuable cultural contributions.