Ian Smythe has very kindly given us permission to reproduce the following article that appears in The Dyslexia Handbook 2000 (published by the BDA and edited by Ian). The handbook is available from the BDA - (see our links page).
The road to literacy is the road to creativity!
In an attempt to update his analogy of dyslexia, Ian Smythe revisits "the
road" and asks if there could be something more than just an analogy!
If we think of the road to literacy as a journey from the town of Langwich
to the town of Reading, then dyslexic people have to use back roads whilst
others may use the motorway. Maybe it is not that the road is blocked, but
that nobody has shown them the way. So instead they go off in another
The dyslexic person in getting to the destination, finds a different route,
explores new worlds, new areas, may boldly go where others fear to tread.
He or she can still get to their destination, but they have to take a
longer route. It is the role of the teacher to realise that these children
can be shown the way, but that they need help to develop strategies to put
them on the right track and keep them there.
But now think of all those experiences they may have had along the way.
Alas, they are all usually cast aside in the hunt for academic achievement.
But is this description, that of finding an alternative route to the
destination, just another way of describing creativity? The only
difference in this case is that the creativity is not harnessed, but
Dyslexic individuals can reach their destination if we assist by providing
the maps, the knowledge of how to use them, and offer assistance along the
way. But let us also harness other ways of seeing.
by Ian Smythe
A bit more about dyslexia
What does the word 'dyslexia' mean?
dys - means difficulty
lexia - means words
So it is a difficulty with words. That only begins to say what it is though. Some people think that it is just a problem with reading. That is not true. Some people with dyslexia can read well. Dyslexia is also known as a 'specific learning difficulty'. It doesn't matter what you call it really but the effect it has on people's lives will vary from person to person. Everyone is different and every dyslexic is different. They will all have strengths and weaknesses.
Dyslexia is not a disease or an illness.
Dyslexia is something you are born with. It is part of who you are. A bit like your eye colour or your being left or right handed.
Dyslexia is about thinking in a different, special way. Everyone has things they are good at and things they are not so good at. Look at some of the famous sports stars or actors. Just because you are good at one thing doesn't mean you will be good at everything.
Dyslexics tend to be good at sport, drama, music, art and creative things. Others are great at talking and expressing their ideas. They probably won't be good at all these things though, just like they may not be weak at all the areas below.
Dyslexics tend to have problems with reading, spelling and writing. Some may also find maths difficult. They may also find it difficult to remember things and copy work from a blackboard.
Dyslexics are not stupid.
Dyslexia is not linked to how clever you are. It can affect people of all levels of intelligence Some though are very, very clever. Look at our page on famous people to see how dyslexics have contributed to so many areas of our lives.
It is thought that more boys than girls are dyslexic (for every 4 dyslexic boys only 1 girl will be dyslexic) . Some people have said that this may not be true; that because people expect more boys to have dyslexia, then more boys than girls are put forward to be assessed. I will try and find out more about this.
Dyslexia is far more common than people realise. The BDA estimate that 10% of children have some form of dyslexia. That means that in a class of 30 children there could be 3 children with some degree of dyslexia.
This page is a tempory page as I have run out of time. It will be updated as soon as I have gathered all the information. It will also include a more 'child-friendly' section.