Under the Hood

Debunking The Notion That Dyslexic People Are Dumb

Dyslexia is a learning disability that commonly affects language skills, particularly reading. As people with the condition struggle to spell, write or pronounce words, there has been a misunderstanding that being dyslexic leads to poor learning capability.

Researchers from Yale University recently found that there is no direct link between dyslexia and intelligence. In fact, many people with the condition tend to be gifted in different areas, such as art, design, drama, electronics, math, music and sports, according to the International Dyslexia Association

Researchers Sally Shaywitz and her husband Bennett Shaywitz started to study the effects of dyslexia in 1983. The couple gathered data from more than 400 kindergartners and analyzed their reading skills. 

The study continued through 2019 to track how the participants developed their skills from early childhood. The researchers found that dyslexia affects one in every five kids in the study but the condition did not appear affecting their intelligence, CBS News reported

"One doesn't influence the other," Bennett said. "In typical readers, certain areas in the left side of the brain are typically activated. In dyslexic readers, there's an inefficient functioning of those systems that we now know are for skilled reading."

Such a problem with the brain region for reading then causes “printed page” of indecipherable shapes appearing when a dyslexic tries to read words and numbers. 

How Dyslexic Learns How To Read

Cathy Drennan shares one of the success stories of people who learned how to live with dyslexia. She described herself as a "nerdy little kid" when she started studying. 

However, as she entered the first grade, Drennan was diagnosed with severe dyslexia. She said words and numbers appear like “Chinese characters for people who don't read Chinese characters.”

But Drennan proved that dyslexic can read. She started learning how to read in the sixth grade in a unique way.

"I recognize the shape of words, and I see the shape, and I say, 'Oh, that's that word.' And then I memorize what that word sounds like," she said.

Drennan now works as professor of chemistry and biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dyslexia Dyslexia is a learning disability that commonly affects language skills, particularly reading, and causes problems with spelling, writing or pronouncing words. Pixabay

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