As children, many successful dyslexics often found a subject they were passionate about. They read everything they could find on their topic. They saw the words about their favorite subject used over and over. Repetition stored these words as scripts in their brains, and they became sight words. With time and hard work, the kids became fluent readers in their areas of interest.
“Because science was an interest and a passion, I started reading about the subject. I was reading about it in school and I was reading about it at home. Suddenly my marks kept going up and up and up and I was at the top of the class.”— Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Space Scientist, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE)
When you explore what you love, you become a better reader. That makes you more successful elsewhere. Best of all, when you find a passion, you aren’t learning about it because you have to, you are learning about it because you love it! There is no deadline, and no test at the end. It’s no big deal if you make mistakes while you’re learning. Your interest carries you through mastering your subject.
“Since I was the stupidest kid in my class, it never occurred to me to try and be perfect, so I’ve always been happy as a writer to just entertain myself. That’s an easier place to start.”— Stephen J. Cannell, Actor and Emmy Award-winning TV producer, writer and novelist.
“But,” you say, “I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. I don’t know what interests me.”
Don’t worry if it takes a little while to find your passion. Most people are only just beginning to figure out what they like or dislike by the time they hit 7th Grade. So you’ve got time to explore, well, everything.
You can start by simply noticing what you like to think about when your mind wanders. If you could do anything in the world, what would you do? What do you care about?
Do you remember the story Green Eggs and Ham? The poor guy in the book refuses to try Green Eggs and Ham, because he just knows he won’t like them. Sam-I-Am pesters him until he gives in, and finally tries Green Eggs and Ham. Guess what? He likes them!
You can only like something you’ve tried, so try everything! Be patient — you often have to try something a couple of times in several different ways to discover what you really love.
After trying different activities for a while, your lifelong passion may creep up on you. You might be dabbling in something and suddenly realize how it all fits together. A lot of people can remember the moment they saw how cool a subject was.
“I fell in love with drama at school, where I struggled with other lessons because of my dyslexia.”— Orlando Bloom, star of Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Blackhawk Down
What Dyslexics are Often Good At
Dyslexics use big picture theories and ideas as a framework. Your 3-D skills are often better than most people’s. You rotate images and information in your brain.
Those skills allow you to put ideas together in ways never seen before. You thrive at seeing patterns and connections between things and ideas that others often miss, leading to brilliant insights. All this allows you to find new ways of doing things. These traits make dyslexics very successful in fields like:
- Art, architecture and inventing — seeing the world differently is creativity
- Acting and comedy – getting the gist of a character and showing them in ways that relate to other people. Or “thinking outside the box” to see new relationships between everyday ideas, some of which are absurdly funny
- Business entrepreneurship, high finance, or money management — forecasting trends and seeing patterns in large amounts of data, or having insights on new areas of business growth
- Engineering, building, electronics, and computer technology — analysis, pattern recognition, and seeing the big picture
- Science — inferences, pattern detection and analysis. Science is all about asking good questions, then figuring out how the data fits together. The most exciting science is when the data fits together in unexpected ways.
And if you like something not on this list, great! Don’t let this list limit you.
“During [medical] residency, I recognized that I had dyslexia. And then I realized I had this gift for imaging… Radiology is where I belonged. I live in a world of patterns and images and I see things that no one else sees. Anomalies jump out at me like a neon sign.”— Beryl Benacerraf, M.D.
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