Being Out About Dyslexia

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Not long ago I saw a wonderful new documentary about dyslexia, called “The Big Picture.” It was made by Jamie Redford and features his son, Dylan, as well as a number of other students who have struggled with this learning disability. I was moved by how candid and forthright these young people were in discussing their experiences; I highly recommend watching  the film, which is being shown on HBO (click here for more information about it).

Now Dylan’s mother, Kyle Redford, has written about parenting a child with dyslexia. Being “out” about being dyslexic was actually part of overcoming the disability, she writes:

“My son will say that one of the most important decisions he made as a dyslexic student was to embrace the diagnosis. I remember when he first heard the name. He actually loved the label. He felt it contained the condition. He reveled in the realization that dyslexia didn’t make him stupid. It was a specific learning glitch, but it didn’t impact his entire brain. His new intellectual confidence was also boosted as everyone he knew rushed him with stories of successful inventors, entrepreneurs, writers, filmmakers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, scientists, etc., who were members of his new club. Naming dyslexia de-shamed and demystified the condition for him.”

Kyle adds:

“Tragically, with all we know about dyslexia today, too many educators still whisper the word, too few students get identified early, and many don’t get identified at all. One in five students has dyslexia. Why isn’t there more urgency about the issue?” (Read more here.)

Kyle is right—we need to bring dyslexia out of the shadows and talk about it openly, as a common condition that causes many difficulties but can also confer exceptional abilities (see my New York Times article, “The Upside of Dyslexia,” here).

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One Response to “Being Out About Dyslexia”

  1. Joanne McNally says:

    I pride myself in the fact that as soon as I was told I was Dyslexic (aged 34) I embraced it and told everyone with confidence and no shame. I wanted people to know that it’s not shameful to be dyslexic. People know I’m smart, studied and an EL tutor and therefore being dyslexic can’t mean I’m stupid. It boosted my son’s confidence too, as, up until that point, he thought being dyslexic meant being stupid therefore he must be stupid. He too is more open and confident when telling people he is dyslexic. It is, though, such a pity that we must treat it like a dirty little secret when it comes to applying for jobs because some are still in the dark about the condition and prefer not to risk employing someone with a specific learning disability. Time they realised it can be an asset!

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