Because dyslexics use your creative right brains more, that side gets very strong. This strength may let you soak up patterns of things that you see, and processes that you imagine.  Dyslexics link ideas together in different ways — instead of following a “logical” step-by-step sequence, you might see a pattern or similarities and likenesses.

            Learning foreign languages is usually hard for dyslexics. But Richard Engel picked up four different dialects of Arabic, as well as Spanish and Italian, as he worked as an international television journalist. He did it by finding patterns in the languages.

“If you can stand to listen to the chaos long enough you can start picking out the notes and soon you have a symphony.”

Richard Engel, Author and Television Journalist

Pattern recognition

What do these words have in common: Madam, civic, eye, level?
To find the answer, read each one backwards.

When my dyslexic husband was getting a new phone number for us, the phone company offered him three different numbers to choose from. My husband immediately said “We want 418-0936”. When I asked him why, he said “Because it’ll be easy to remember. With the exception of the first number, all the pairs of numbers add up to 9.” Maybe easy for him to remember — I had to just memorize it.

(Note: I’ve changed the actual phone number. You’ll have to go through all the possible combinations of 9 to call me.)

Patterns show up in numbers, too: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13… What comes next in this pattern of numbers?

Answer: 21.

The pattern is made by adding the first two numbers together to get the next: 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 3+ 2=5…

This sequence of numbers is very common in nature and architecture. It even has a name — the Fibonacci sequence.


“10 Riddles That Play on Words.” n.d. Kidspot. Accessed November 9, 2017.

Eide, Brock, and Fernette Eide. 2011. The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain. New York: Hudson Street Press.

Grandin, Temple, and Catherine Johnson. 2005. Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior. New York: Scribner.

Wallace, Jane. “Richard Engel, Chief Foreign Correspondent for NBC News.” Yale Dyslexia. Accessed October 8, 2020.

Wolf, Maryanne. 2007. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. 1st ed. New York, N.Y.: Harper.

Published by Amy Law

Amy Law is a science geek. She feels about science the way some people feel about music, or art, or sports – a total and complete emotional connection. She thinks in science. For Amy, there’s nothing better than helping people see the beauty of science as she does. She loves to untangle a complicated subject into its parts, explaining it so that anybody can understand what’s happening. Let her show you her world...


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