Labeled as a Person with Dyslexia

I recently read an interesting article called “A rose is a rose is a flower” (http://www.thehindu.com/arts/magazine/article881892.ece). The article discusses the pros and cons of being labeled as a dyslexic.

The “pros” – in many cases the diagnosis of being dyslexic, provides the reasoning of why an intelligent adult or child is under-performing in school or in work. Suddenly behavior, that seemed inexplicable to an employer or parent not familiar with dyslexia, is explained. Not only that, once diagnosed correctly the appropriate instruction and assistive technology may be implemented to assist the person with dyslexia.

The “cons” – the dyslexia label brings the disability into focus, also at times when it is not necessary to highlight the disability. As quoted from the article “a person with a label has to be extremely mindful of ‘minor failings’ as all his behavior is perceived through the lens of his disability.” Giving people one-dimensional labels may result in disregarding personal differences and strengths. “While we readily accept that ‘normal’ kids can be quite different in terms of their personalities, preferences and proclivities, we tend to assume that all children with a particular clinical tag (e.g. dyslexia) are alike.”

Do the pros overcome cons in dyslexic labeling?

Well, in my opinion, it depends on the situation. In a supportive school environment, where the main objective is to improve the learning abilities of a dyslexic, it should be beneficial to be classified as dyslexic. In such an environment, the school, together with the support of the parents, will work out the best program and learning environment offered by the school to the dyslexic student.

However, in a work environment, where the main objective is to optimize the productivity of the employee, being classified as a dyslexic may be harmful. The main objective of a modern workplace is not to optimize the work environment of a dyslexic person, but rather to ensure that the person filing a given position is providing maximum value. In such environments, being categorized as dyslexic may not benefit the person with dyslexia; rather this categorization may result in unnecessary discrimination against the person with dyslexia.

Bottom line

I think that at the bottom line it is up to the dyslexic/ dyslexic parent to assess if it is advantageous or disadvantageous to be categorized as a dyslexic. If it is advantageous, then sure, let the word out, and try to maximize the benefits of being labeled with dyslexia. However, if it is not, and you feel that being categorized as dyslexic may be used against you, then withholding the fact that you are dyslexic should be the right way to go.

Does High Education Pay Off for People with Dyslexia?

Studies show that education pays off in terms of employment and earnings.

Here is a study produced by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics that clearly demonstrates that a higher education, on average, pays off:

The graph above demonstrates that there is a strong positive correlation between education and income; and a strong negative correlation between education and unemployment. In order words, a person with a higher education, on average, will have higher earnings, and less probability to be unemployed then a person with a lower education. The statistics displayed above are true, on average, for the entire population.

However, do these same statistics apply for people with dyslexia?
I believe not…

I remember reading in the past a UK study that claimed that the gap of unemployment between a person with dyslexia and without dyslexia rises with increased education (sorry – could not find the link of the study – if anyone can help let me know). In many ways these findings make sense. Dyslexics receive support from their families and teachers and government aid during their school years, to ensure their academic success. But, once they leave the school gates, they are usually left alone with their reading and writing disability.

In many countries there is already a high awareness to learning disabilities and dyslexia, with government aid being offered (e.g. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)). These government intervention projects provide proactive aid to dyslexic students to graduate from high schools and universities. However, there is minimal or no official support offered to graduating dyslexics, promoting those same people who were aided in schools, to obtain and maintain a job.

This information presents a real challenge for educators and decision makers. In order to help people with dyslexia to succeed in life, on one hand education assistance is required. But on the other hand proactive aid should be offered assisting a dyslexic to obtain and maintain a job.

Only then can education really pay off for dyslexics too.

Would love to get your inputs…

Dyslexia, Charlie Brown and Dilbert

For many years I have been a big fan of both Charlie Brown and Dilbert. That of course is not surprising. Charlie Brown and Dilbert are two extremely popular comics’ heroes. However, when I read somewhere that both the creators of Charlie Brown (creator Charles M. Schulz) and Dilbert (creator Scott Adams) where dyslexic I started wondering if perhaps there was a connection. Perhaps it was not accidental that the two characters that I adored, their creators where dyslexic, exactly like me.

Charlie Brown is presented as a boy that nothing ever goes right for him. But Charlie Brown refuses to give up and possesses an endless amount of determination and hope. I love Charlie Brown’s motto “NEVER EVER GIVE UP”. As you can see, I have adopted the picture with this motto as the graphical icon of this blog…

Dilbert on the other had is a grownup working in a work environment where employees’ skills and efforts are not rewarded and where the most ineffective and least-competent workers are the ones that are promoted to management positions.

When I started thinking about it I realized that as a person with dyslexia it is quite easy for me to identify with these two characters.

As a child, my struggle with learning, reading and writing was a continuous one. I have many negative memories from school and remember it mainly as a place that promoted my insecurities due to my learning differences. However, these experiences drove me to “NEVER EVER GIVE UP”, no matter the difficulties, insecurities and failures. And in this point I truly relate with good old Charlie…

When I grew up and joined the workforce, I felt sometimes that I was working in a Dilbert-like workplace. This too may be related to my dyslexia. Being a dyslexic, my written communications and presentations where not as well “packaged” as those of my co-workers. Sometimes I felt that I was being judged not by my actual contribution, but rather by this external “package” that I carried.

Well here’s to you Charlie Brown – thanks for providing me with multiple scenes where even though your luck seemed to be running out – you never lost your good-heartiness and hope…

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjFE9uy3N38&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]

And here’s to you Dilbert – thanks for demonstrating in a comical, cynical light the ridiculous aspects a workplace may have…

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f35bQPAYhIE&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]