Dealing with Dyslexia

By William McDowell


Illustration by Aden Walsey

   Creative geniuses such as Walt Disney, Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Octavia Spencer, and Albert Einstein have all changed the world. They are also all dyslexic. 

   While dyslexia can make it harder for those affected by it to learn how to read, they can still go on to accomplish incredible things. Alexander Graham Bell, for example, was dyslexic and invented the telephone, a machine that shaped the modern world. However, they can only do this if they are able to get past the mental and emotional obstacles that come with dyslexia. My younger brother is one of those people. He went through many years of school frustrated, believing that he was not as smart as other students because the way he was taught did not work for him. When my parents would read with him before bed, he would struggle, but it would go unnoticed because he would memorize and recite story books rather than reading them. However, when he transferred to a school that specialized in teaching students with dyslexia, he started reading at grade level.

   This school taught reading and writing by focusing on phonics. They told students to break the word apart and sound it out rather than memorizing sight words and hoping they catch on. According to PBS, this way of teaching is the best method for learning readers. This was proven by a study done almost two decades ago that was ignored because schools did not want to change the curriculum. Despite ignorance of the issue, a groups of parents in Arkansas were able to change the teaching requirements and methods for how students learn to read. After the change, schools saw a large improvement in literacy skills in young children. The state has moved to teach all students this way since it benefits all students, not just the kids affected by dyslexia. In fact, more than 40 states have dyslexia programs or are currently working towards implementing them.

   Since one out of every five people is affected by dyslexia, modifying the reading curriculum by implementing more phonics into lessons would be massively beneficial. Dyslexic children, like my brother, could gain the confidence they need to read proficiently while learning the way that helps them most. With this extra confidence and help, dyslexic students will be more motivated and can go on to accomplish things like inventing the light bulb like Thomas Edison, the first manned aircraft like the Wright brothers, or the Ford Model T like Henry Ford.