Today is World Dyslexia Awareness Day. For those of you that don’t know what dyslexia is, it’s a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling.
There is a common misconception that if you have dyslexia, you aren’t as intelligent as those without. In my opinion, Dyslexia is the most misunderstood learning disability. Growing up through school, I myself wrongly believed that if you had dyslexia, then you weren’t as intelligent as those without. I was wrong.
Dyslexia is considered a ‘specific learning difficulty’, this means that whilst it causes problems with certain abilities used for learning, such as reading or writing, unlike a learning disability, intelligence isn’t affected.
One of the reasons why I believe this week is so important is because we need to raise awareness of dyslexia, and changing the perception of ‘normal’. Everyone wants to succeed in their careers or lives, and part of doing that is ensuring that you’re overcoming your challenges and if you do have dyslexia, embracing it.
Take Richard Branson for example, the well known billionaire and founder and chairman of Virgin Group acknowledges that he has dyslexia and certainly didn't have the easiest time at school. He had extremely poor scores on standardised tests, pointing at a bleak future, however his gifted interpersonal and business talents drove him to succeed and in 2015, attributed the Virgin brand’s success to his dyslexia:
“There are still many dyslexics out there, especially young people, who feel held back by their condition. I used my dyslexia to my advantage and learned to delegate those tasks I wasn’t so good it. This freed me up to look at the bigger picture, and is one of the main reasons I have been able to expand the Virgin brand into so many different areas.”
It’s hard to believe that one of the worlds most recognised actors, Tom Cruise also struggled to read and write for years. He openly admits that he too struggled through school, admitting that he loved learning and wanted to learn, but knew that he had failed in the system. But like many, he found a way through it. He eventually learnt how to read and has lived a successful life as an actor, a role that requires both reading and remembering lines.
Richard Branson and Tom Cruise are definitely not the only people who have succeeded with dyslexia, Bill Gates, Picasso, Henry Winkler and Steven Spielberg are just a few of the many examples that dyslexia is something that can be embraced and used to your advantage.
So don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t let dyslexia stop you achieving your dream. There is support out there. Just remember, just because someone is dyslexic, they are most certainly not stupid. Dyslexia is something that has been misunderstood for too long.
'The reason why I think people who are dyslexic seem to do well in life, having struggled at school, is that we tend to simplify things'