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Dyslexia and Intelligence

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Dyslexia related image Photo: Getty Images

Finally we may be entering an age in which having a learning disability does not automatically make others think of someone with low intelligence. The fact is, many people with learning disabilities have higher than average intelligence and are not unable to learn, they are simply people who learn differently than others.

Not long ago in our educational system, children with dyslexia were labeled stupid, mentally retarded or even altogether unteachable. Many of these children had average or even higher than average capabilities and were simply shut down by their parents and teachers, who didn't seem to have the slightest idea about how to reach and teach them.

While we have come a long way, it's still crucial that parents advocate for their children. Knowing the law about what you and your family are entitled to when it comes to public education can only serve to assist you when the principal, teacher or staff member of your child's school calls to have a meeting and let you know something may be awry.

For many students and caregivers, the entire experience of education is fraught with meetings and Individualized Education Programs, hashing out detail after detail of what services are needed, which services are affordable by the school district, and what, truly, is in the best interest of the student.

Encouraging your child with dyslexia to learn in new and different ways will strengthen their self confidence. One issue with children with learning disabilities is that they often suffer very low self esteem as a result of doing poorly, or being perceived as doing poorly in comparison with their peers. By continuing to believe in your child and allow room for all of their talents to develop and blossom, you are giving your child a gift.

For people with dyslexia, the natural fluidity and flow of letters and words coming together can be laborious. Each time a letter is encountered it is as if it's the first time. The natural quality of reading is a struggle.

Sally E. Shaywitz, M.D., is a professor in Learning Development at Yale School of Medicine's Department of Pediatrics, and co-director of the newly formed Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. She estimates that one in five people are dyslexic. Through her research, writing and speaking, she hopes to reduce the stigma associated with dyslexia, using prominent and accomplished individuals as prime examples of people of high intelligence overcoming this obstacle in their lives.


The New York Times Sunday Review
Words Failed, Then Saved Me
Published: September 3, 2011

Science Daily
Science News
Dyslexia: Some Very Smart Accomplished People Cannot Read Well
ScienceDaily (Dec. 19, 2009)

The New York Times
Nudging Schools to Help Students With Learning Disabilities
Published: February 26, 2010

Aimee Boyle is a regular contributor to EmpowHER.

Reviewed September 7, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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