The term 'dyslexia' was first coined over a hundred and twenty years ago to describe students who had no deficit in intelligence but were nevertheless having difficulty acquiring literacy. It seemed a logical name. Dys-lexia. A problem with words.
Since that time, studies of dyslexia have naturally focused on helping dyslexic children lean to read and write. No surprise there. Get 100 dyslexics together and you will indeed have a crowd of people who have experienced difficulty with aspects of literacy. But look more closely and other quirky characteristics are revealed.
For example, many of the 100 dyslexics will have difficulty naming their left and right sides. Some may have problems reading the time from an analogue clock. Tracking the flow of time, short term memory and remembering names could also be an issue. Over the years researchers have been able to identify a cluster of such non-literacy-related problems.
But if you do get that group of dyslexics together and give them time to talk and compare notes, other commonalities start to emerge. For example, dyslexics are often very creative. They are lateral thinkers and problem solvers. Given a complex set of interrelationships, they easily see the whole picture and get to the root of issues. Many are able to read other people's emotions with stunning clarity.
No surprise then that so many successful people from the world of creative arts and the world of entrepreneurial business turn out to be dyslexic. Enhanced ability to think in three dimensions is another common attribute. Thus the ranks of top architects are also rich in dyslexics.
If we were to ask our group of 100 dyslexics whether they would like to be 'cured' of dyslexia - having the problems AND the advantages simultaneously removed by swallowing a pill - what would they say? What would you say? For me it would be an emphatic NO.
Not so much a learning disability, then. More a learning difference that manifests as disability in some situations (particularly in school) and manifests as a prodigious ability in others.