Dys­lexia

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of these ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

Dys­lexia is a “spe­cific learn­ing dif­fi­culty”. In­tel­li­gence isn't af­fected. Dys­lexia is a life­long prob­lem that can present chal­lenges on a daily ba­sis in ar­eas such as read­ing and writ­ing. Up to one in ev­ery 15 peo­ple may suf­fer from some de­gree of dys­lexia.

A per­son suf­fer­ing from dys­lexia may read and write very slowly, con­fuse the or­der of letters in words, put letters the wrong way round such as writ­ing "b" in­stead of “d”, have poor or in­con­sis­tent spell­ing, un­der­stand in­for­ma­tion when told ver­bally but have dif­fi­culty with in­for­ma­tion that's writ­ten down, find it hard to carry out a se­quence of di­rec­tions, and strug­gle with plan­ning and or­gan­i­sa­tion. Peo­ple with dys­lexia, how­ever, of­ten have good skills in cre­ative think­ing and prob­lem solv­ing.

Dyslex­ics find it dif­fi­cult to rec­og­nize the dif­fer­ent sounds that make up words and re­late these to letters, but dys­lexia isn't re­lated to a per­son's gen­eral level of in­tel­li­gence. Chil­dren and adults of all in­tel­lec­tual abil­i­ties can be af­fected by dys­lexia. The ex­act cause of dys­lexia is un­known, but it of­ten ap­pears to run in fam­i­lies. In peo­ple with dys­lexia, it's thought that cer­tain genes in­her­ited from their par­ents may act to­gether in a way that af­fects how some parts of the brain de­velop dur­ing early life. Many fa­mous peo­ple have en­joyed im­mense suc­cess de­spite their dys­lexia, their learn­ing dif­fi­culty.

Muhammed Ali, one of the great­est pro­fes­sional box­ers of all time, suf­fered from dys­lexia as does iconic fash­ion de­signer Tommy Hil­figer. When peo­ple think of suc­cess­ful film­mak­ers in Hollywood, Steven Spiel­berg is typ­i­cally at or near the top of the list. Few of us would have guessed that the fa­mous direc­tor has strug­gled with dys­lexia through­out his en­tire life. What is even more amaz­ing is the fact that his learn­ing dis­or­der went un­di­ag­nosed for years. Jay Leno, whose face is uni­ver­sally rec­og­nized, and whose con­tro­ver­sial pri­vate life is con­stantly ap­pear­ing in su­per­mar­ket tabloids and on en­ter­tain­ment news, has un­be­known by most strug­gled with the learn­ing dis­or­der, dys­lexia, since child­hood.

Way back in time Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen, who was a Danish au­thor best known for his chil­dren's sto­ries such as “The Lit­tle Mer­maid”, “Thum­be­lina”, and “The Ugly Duck­ling”, was also a suf­ferer, as was Lud­wig van Beethoven, a Ger­man pi­anist and com­poser and one of the most in­flu­en­tial com­posers of all time. Beethoven con­tin­ued to com­pose, per­form, and con­duct even af­ter be­com­ing com­pletely deaf. In mod­ern times, Richard Bran­son, one of the most well known en­trepreneurs of our time, and the founder of the Vir­gin Group, has ex­celled in the mu­sic, trans­porta­tion and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­tries, even though he suf­fers from dys­lexia. He has also set a goal to break as many world records as pos­si­ble.

Thomas Edi­son was a dyslexic Amer­i­can in­ven­tor and sci­en­tist who cre­ated in­no­va­tions that have rev­o­lu­tion­ized the way things are done to­day. He in­vented the light bulb, phono­graph, mo­tion pic­ture cam­era, and is cred­ited with the cre­ation of the first in­dus­trial re­search lab­o­ra­tory. Charles “Pete” Con­rad, Jr, was a naval of­fi­cer for the Amer­i­can Navy, an en­gi­neer, an as­tro­naut, and the third per­son to walk on the moon. He was the 20th per­son and the 10th Amer­i­can to fly in space and flew on the Gemini 5, Gemini 11, Apollo 12, and Sky­lab 2 space mis­sions for NASA. He too was dyslexic.

The king of Swe­den, for­mally known as “His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Swe­den” is also dyslexic, as was, it is be­lieved, Leonardo da Vinci, an Ital­ian in­ven­tor, and one of the orig­i­nal Re­nais­sance men who is best known for his art work. He is the cre­ator of such mas­ter­pieces as “The Mona Lisa”, “The Last Sup­per”, and his draw­ing of the “Vitru­vian Man”. He is also known for his tech­no­log­i­cal con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion of the heli­copter, the tank and the cal­cu­la­tor.

Cher, the Amer­i­can singer, ac­tress, direc­tor, and record pro­ducer, is a dyslexic, as are An­der­son Cooper of CNN, the actor Tom Cruise, Whoopi Gold­berg, the late Steve Jobs of Ap­ple, the ge­nius Al­bert Ein­stein, and Ing­var Kam­prad the Swedish founder of IKEA.

In my ex­pe­ri­ence, per­haps five or so pupils in ev­ery class in the country might have sim­i­lar read­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. So why can't prom­i­nent Saint Lu­cians come out of their dyslexic clos­ets to show their fel­low cit­i­zens that there is no shame in be­ing dyslexic? In­deed they should take pride in their achieve­ments de­spite their spe­cific learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, and be shin­ing ex­am­ples to oth­ers in or­der to en­cour­age them to strive for ex­cel­lence and over­come their prob­lems.

In this case, si­lence is def­i­nitely not golden.

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