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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 104

Date:- 21 June 2003

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Dyslexia - the answers..?¿
Report by Natasha Piscitelli

IF YOU or any of your family and friends have been diagnosed as having dyslexia, don't worry, practical help and support is waiting for you. Natasha Piscitelli reports…

Around 4% of the British population are severely dyslexic and a further 6% have mild to moderate problems. The word 'dyslexia' comes from the Greek language and means 'difficulty with words'. It is caused by a difference in the brain area that deals with language and affects the underlying skills needed for learning to read, write and spell.

Dyslexia occurs in people from all backgrounds and of all abilities. Dyslexics tend to read hesitantly and have difficulty putting sentences together, for example getting dates in order. They also tend to have difficulty organising thought clearly and have erratic spelling. Experts also believe that they think in pictures rather than words.

If you or any of your friends and family have been diagnosed as having the condition, do not worry help is at hand. Some Local Dyslexia Associations (LDA) specialise in giving help and advice to dyslexics and their families and many hold regular meetings. Help can also be sought at your local Job Centre, at adult basic education centres, at the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), at your council neighbourhood office, your trade union and through your local disability information service.

British Telecom also offers a free telephone directory service available by dialling 195 and email discussions and self-help groups are on hand at www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/dyslexia.html. Financial help is available to students in higher education as they can apply to their Local Education Authority (LEA) for a Disability Students Allowance (DSA), while the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Employment) prohibits discrimination against disabled people in employment. 

Tim Sampson, a Journalism student at Bournemouth University was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was twelve years old. He has received help to study for his course through his Local Education Authority.

He said:- "I applied for equipment to help me with my degree and was extremely pleased with what I got. As I'm doing journalism I needed a lot of technical

things, in the end I got an Apple  Mac computer with lots of different computer packages, including one which scans words and reads them back to me. I also got a recordable minidisk player with a microphone and money for books. The only criticism I've got is that it took lots of paperwork and a long time for me to sort it all out."
 
A positive aspect of having dyslexia is that the subject has a collection of capabilities, which are advantageous in the right context. These include being perceptive and highly aware of their environment, curious, greatly intuitive and insightful. They think and perceive multi-dimensionally and have a lively imagination and experience thought as reality.

Experts believe that dyslexics are creative, can adopt easily to change and see patterns, connections and similarities easily. Advantages include being ambitious, driven and persistent, superior at reasoning and capable of seeing things differently than others. They love complexity, do not follow the crowd and can think visually, spatially and laterally.

There are many famous dyslexics who haven't allowed the condition to affect their lives and have in fact used it to their advantage. Albert Einstein is the world's most famous dyslexic and remarked:- "When I examine myself and my methods of thought I come close to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge." Had Einstein not been dyslexic, he probably would not have been able devise the scientific laws of relativity that he did.

The list of famous dyslexics is vast and includes some of the greatest people of all time. Richard Branson, Winston Churchill, John Lennon, Walt Disney and Anthony Hopkins are examples of famous dyslexics who prove that it can be an advantage not a hindrance. Dyslexia is not something to be afraid of, it's the making of who you are and what you feel.
 
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