Tag: learning to read

A Beautiful Mind (c) Marika Reinke 2015

A Beautiful Mind

I dislike the word “disabled” and the word “disorder” is just as bad.  These words focus on the many ways someone is not <some “normal” trait> which can be fairly translated as not mediocre. Words like “disabled” and “disorder” reveal weepingly dysfunctional thinking. Sadly, they are hurtful. Yet they are institutional terms we pretend are stripped of emotional impact.

Why focus on “not”? Why not reveal the strengths and nuance? Why not celebrate not mediocre?

So it is with dyslexia which at root means having difficulty reading. Many of you likely believe that it means someone who has difficulty keeping words still on the page.

What is not well known is that this common assumption is not always true and more interesting is this difficulty keeping a word still on page is a symptom of a fascinating, beautiful, amazing talent.

Research has emerged that dyslexics are particularly advantaged in a bouquet of abilities and one of them is three dimensional spatial reasoning.  A high percentage of architects, engineers, artists are dyslexic (Leonardo DiVinci was all three and dyslexic).  They are genius visual thinkers.

The problem: a word on a page is two-dimensional and highly symbolic.  A dyslexic intuitively seeks to understand the word by picking it up with his/her mind, turning it around, understanding it on a contextual three-dimensional level.  This strategy works in almost any other context but symbols on paper.  And this strength, that will help a dyslexic excel in construction, sculpture, problem solving, visual reasoning, creativity, management, advanced mathematical concepts and even planning will only send them down the path of failure at a traditional school.

Disabled is not the word I would use to describe a dyslexic.  Perhaps it suits the education system better. It is certainly not a just system.

Those strengths are not assessed in school but in the real world, watch out.  A dyslexic will score 30% higher on a creativity test than a “normal” person.  35% of entrepreneurs are dyslexic.  Some of the most creative thinkers and leaders are dyslexic; Einstein, Henry Ford, Charles Schwab, Winston Churchill, Ann Rice and John Irving. A blind sample of the population, regardless of gender or culture reveals that up to 20% of the population is dyslexic. (See Reading List below.)

My son is dyslexic.

This also means he is a right-brain visual thinker with weak neural circuitry to his left brain language processing center.  He is six and in kindergarten. It is a research-bound fact that if he is taught with a functional multi-sensory explicit phonics-based teaching approach now, he has a high chance to learn to read just as well if not better than his peers.  Currently, schools tend to eschew this method because the assumption is it isn’t fun, familiar or popular though more children can learn to read and become better spellers with this method.

So, if your learning style isn’t fun, you are out of luck? And the “disorder” award goes to…?

Most importantly, a dyslexic mind is a Beautiful Mind. 

A Beautiful Mind (c) Marika Reinke 2015
A Beautiful Mind (c) Marika Reinke 2015
Three 10″ x 7″ Watercolors (c) Marika Reinke

Achingly so.

It is a world of exploding visual imagery.  It is a space of diffuse connections, creative problem solving, intuition, enhanced awareness and rapid analysis.  But it is a wordless, though not silent, world.  A dyslexic does not reason verbally. Words come later on, after the unfolding imagery has revealed sometimes astounding insight.

A Trapped Word

A Trapped Word (c) Marika Reinke 2015
A Trapped Word (c) Marika Reinke 2015

It is difficult for a dyslexic to access the right word while speaking.  The clutter of visual imagery, the diffuse connections stall the verbal processing and the neural connection just isn’t as tight as the images, sounds, emotions, patterns that are dancing in their thoughts.  A word is trapped.  It can not come loose. But don’t mistake this for a still mind, this mind is dancing in the jittery shadows, clutching its fluid jail bars and searching for a pattern to un-rip and let loose the word.

A Word Unraveling

A Word Unraveling (c) Marika Reinke 2015
A Word Unraveling (c) Marika Reinke 2015

This brain will always process words differently.  Because a dyslexic’s strength is diffuse connections, every word is layered with an explosion of meaning.  Not just synonyms, but pictures, experiences, sounds, patterns, physical feelings and emotions. The word unravels into an explosion of possibility and meanings.  A mind capable of turning over so many possibilities means a deeper understanding of a single word.  The trade off for a deeper understanding is speed, reading will often be slower, but comprehension is so much richer.

An Intuitive Leap

An Intuitive Leap (c) Marika Reinke 2015
An Intuitive Leap (c) Marika Reinke 2015

Because the gift of dyslexia includes a rich internal visual reasoning capacity, a dyslexic will often come to amazing intuitive conclusions that reveal a rich and complete understanding as well as astounding creativity. These insight can appear like flukes, because to us this mind can’t seem to properly verbalize or read a simple word like “it”.  But they are not flukes.  They are the result of complex and rapid processing undefinable by words. They are the result of a thinking system unrestrained by the limits of symbolic and analytical language.

My Son and I
My Son and I

My son continues to inspire me. I’m so thankful to have identified this early. More importantly, I’m grateful for what he teaches me about the brain, creativity, intuition, problem solving and teaching.  And Love.

These lessons are gifts as beautiful as his mind.


Buy A Beautiful Mind here.

The Original A Beautiful Mind is available for sale as a triptych (all three): $350
Prints of All Three: $75
A Single Print of one of the three: $35
5″ x 7″ Cards are available to order.  Pack of 10: $35.  Please specify if you want the triptych or a single image.


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REading List

Following is a list of books I’ve read and that provided the much of the background, research and facts expressed in this post.

Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level by Sally Shaywitz

The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain by Eide, Brokck & Ferentte

The Gift of Dyslexia: Why Some of the Smartest People Can’t Read… and How they Can Learn by Ronald D Davis