I overheard a conversation the other day that made me both angry and upset. The mother was explaining how her son was recently diagnosed with dyslexia. She was very upset about this. She was convinced it was a death sentence for him and his future. I don’t blame her. Just like thousands of others, she has been told, in many ways by a society that having dyslexia is negative.
Somewhere along the line society started telling us that different was bad. Maybe that was referring to weight. Maybe that was talking about the hairstyle. Or maybe that was about what is ladylike and what isn’t. Or what is masculine and what isn’t… the list goes on and on. And somehow dyslexia and other learning conditions like it got sucked into this mess.
It took me well into my twenties to be comfortable telling people I had dyslexia, but when I started doing so, I always got the same reaction. People immediately felt sorry for me. They acted as if I was having my right leg amputated or my mother had just died. I don’t blame these people. How could I? I was one of them for years. I felt sorry for myself because I had been sucked into believing that because of my dyslexia I was less important than everybody else.
The problem is this couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with thinking differently and having a brain that operates differently. In fact, it’s a beautiful thing. If everyone looked at the world the same way, the world would be a boring place. The fact that we don’t all love carrots, aren’t all obsessed with Harry Potter, and aren’t all looking to be the first person on Mars is a healthy thing!
I’m on a mission to reframe dyslexia. There’s so much negativity around it and there’s really no place for that. And not only that, but it overshadows the beauty of dyslexia. It’s not chance that many thriving dyslexics credit their success largely to their dyslexia.
Last week I did a Facebook live video in which I asked people what they saw in a scribble that I drew. Holding it one way I saw a hand holding a loaf of bread. Holding it the sideways I saw a person in the fetal position cradling their knees. Someone else saw two beach balls and another saw a constipated person. None of us are incorrect. There is no right or wrong here. This speaks to my point about dyslexia. Just because I see things differently just because my brain does not work like an ‘average’ brain doesn’t make me wrong or less than anyone else.
We need to stand up against this terrible and just wrong idea that differences are negative and that they give you a disadvantage. They give you a unique lens to view the world through and that needs to be celebrated not looked down upon.