www.beingdyslexic.com is, as the name implies, a forum for people to discuss issues relating to their dyslexia. I have been a daily visitor to the website since I came across it some months ago. It has been refreshing to learn about the experiences of dyslexics directly from dyslexics instead of from reading the conclusions of research projects. Why? Because the issues raised are the ones that concern the dyslexics themselves.
Instead of fixating on reading and writing, the discussions range from talking about time management to empathy, from creativity to relationships. From this dyslexic-centred discussion several surprises emerge.
I have for some years wondered if there could be a connection between dyslexia and the degree of ability to recall emotions and to sense the emotions of others. My suspicions emerged from a chance remark by a dyslexic actor who said she relied on her strong “emotional memory” to help her get into role. This chimed with my own experience. As a writer I use the ability to recall and relive emotions when I am creating characters and working out what they must be feeling and how they will act as a result.
But when I asked dyslexic professionals I was told that there was no such relationship. I searched the internet and found no references to research on the subject. If such a connection did exist it would be a dyslexic strength. It would be something that dyslexics could use to give them an advantage.
Then someone posted a question on the ‘Being Dyslexic” forum. If you had a superpower connected to your dyslexia, the questioner asked, what would it be?
A stream of answers came through over the following days saying that the superpower they already had was the ability to read other people’s emotions – to know what they were thinking or feeling. It was such a strong effect for some of these people that it felt uncannily like ESP.
There is no doubt that in a predominantly non-dyslexic world, dyslexia presents itself as a disability. But in my opinion, the anomalous strengths of dyslexics are systematically under researched and under reported.
Which brings me to one of the other surprises from the being dyslexic forums – the spread of attitudes people have to their own dyslexia. Some hate it and wish it would go away, feeling it is blighting their lives. Others see it as a source of strength and part of who they are. The variation is huge. Now THAT is an area which could do with some research. It might not help anyone spell better, so educationalists might not regard it as a priority. But I’d rather be happy than get my spelling right every time.
Perhaps my priorities are skewed.