Discovering The Dyslexic Advantage at Age 25
I have Dyslexia. It is something that has given me some difficulties through the years. I know that I am not dumb, but dyslexia has given me difficulties in reading and writing, making me sort of dumb in those areas. On the way, I have learned tricks to help me through books, assignments, and degrees, like text-to-speech, writing programs, and taking more responsibility for how I learn best.
But I never explored what dyslexia was at a deeper level. While trying to find a better way to manage my master's and funding writing, I discovered The Dyslexic Advantage. This book explains what the actual brain difference between dyslexic and non-dyslexic are. It explains the nature of why we are worse at certain parts, but also why we excel in others.
I consider myself to be curious — about human nature, myself, and the difference between others. But I never thought dyslexia was anything more than a reading and writing impediment. I do not feel a need to have my ego nurtured, but hearing people like Einstein, da Vinci, Picasso, and Jobs having dyslexia was still a confidence boost. Especially when learning that they could accomplish what they did, not despite their dyslexia, but because of it.
But what is the actual difference? In short, people with dyslexia have a more dominant left side of the brain and a less dominant right side. The brain's right side is what is responsible for organizing, more sequence thinking, and details. The right side is what uses creativity and wider scope thinking. Dyslexic people have weaker short-term memory and stronger long-term memory. When organizing a document and spell-checking, you can see the dyslexic struggle. When it comes to connecting larger picture ideas, finding creative solutions, and even using cross-disciplinary concepts, dyslexics thrive. The advantages can be separated into four sections, forming the initials MIND. Following is an explanation for each of these letters.
M-strengths: Material or Mechanical Reasoning
M-strengths are described as an ability to reason about the 3-dimensional properties of the physical or material world — the shape, size, motion, position, spatial orientation, and interaction of physical object.
It is the ability to think and reason in 3D. People with these strengths are excellent at conceptualizing objects or systems and manipulating them in their minds. For example, the land developer who can envision a building with the potential landscaping around it— all in their mind. A mechanical engineer can conceptualize a design and evaluate potential week points.
I-strengths: Interconnected Reasoning
I-strengths are described as an ability to spot important connections between various kinds of information. It is the ability to see likeness and connects different fields of knowledge and big-picture connections that create a heightened ability to detect gist, context, and relevance.
The ability stems from many people with dyslexia have a brain that is biased towards longer, highly interconnected microcircuits that favor the top-down approach and recognize unusual relationships. One with dyslexia is able to better see it from different points of view. This skill provides advantages in creative occupations, as well as business.
N-strengths: Narrative reasoning
N-strengths are described as an ability to create stories by connecting a series of mental scenes from past personal experience, as well as the tendency to use stories to recall the past, understand the present, and imagine the future.
Many with dyslexia show a strong difference in their strong episodic (or personal) memories related to events and experiences and their weaker semantic (impersonal or abstract) and procedural memory. They have a “scene-based” format in which ideas and concepts are memorized as experiences or examples rather than abstract or non-contextual. The stored fragments of stories can be used not only to reconstruct to remember the past but also to imagine the future. This skill is often closely linked to creative writing and good storytelling but can also be used in many other areas, as wast amounts of facts can be remembered when using episodic memory.
D-strengths: Dynamic reasoning
D-strengths are described as having the ability to recombine elements of past experience and use this information to predict or mentally simulate future outcomes with great accuracy.
People with dynamic reasoning strengths have a great ability to project into the future and make predictions based on their previous experiences. They can see patterns in the real world, put them together into plausible experiences, and use them to envision the future. It also enables them to envision several future scenarios and compare them. This frame of imagination is especially valuable where all the relevant variables are incomplete, knowns, changing, or ambiguous.
Dynamic reasoning often employs insight-based processing. It is powerful but often slow, appears passive, and may result in difficulty explaining intervening steps. Its effectiveness is enhanced by a strong ability in pattern separation. By the high interconnection dyslectic of long-term memory, it enables the connection of more advanced patterns. Individuals with dyslexia that possess prominent dynamic reasoning often thrive in precisely the type of rapidly changing and ambiguous setting that others find the most difficult, confusing, and stressful.
Personal thoughts of implications
When reading this book, it sat to word on what I, in many ways, had been thinking was different from me and others without dyslexia. It made it apparent what I have elevated towards, and where my shortcomings are.
I started my education by taking a bachelor's in mechanical engineering, specializing in constructional design. I was among the best in class in physics and mechanics but found chemistry and material science more challenging. I disliked when you were supposed to remember something without having the context of its implications. What I did learn I could often manipulate in creative ways.
I liked many aspects of my bachelor's but realized that I did not want to specialize and work my whole life in this field. I really didn't see myself specializing in-depth within any field if it meant that I would lose the bigger picture and neglect many aspects of how I was and what I wanted to do. Then I discovered a master’s studies with a practical approach to entrepreneurship.
It took me an extra year to get in. At that time, I started a company with some new friends and have been working with the same companies through my master's degree. I have always been interested in business. Working in a tech startup meant I could use both my technical skills and interest, as well as business, people, and other aspects. Everything is a format that gave me freedom and did not box in the creativity and actions.
However, being a dyslectic having the business responsibility of the company leads to many challenges as well. There are a lot of formalities and applications, where I have to be the main contributor and responsible. This is both extra stressful, and the final result can lack good quality. The best way to adapt to these challenges is to have someone to work with that have complementary skills to mine. This includes both bottom-up approach and organizational. It also helps to make an outline and mindmaps. This way, all the ideas can be included without the fallout of my weaknesses.
I imagine myself being a father at some point. This child will most lightly have dyslexia. With what I have learned from this book, I see myself teaching the kid to take advantage of its stronger sides at an early stage. I will also work to adopting their reading, writing, and organizational learning to their skills attributes.