Rote memory of non-meaningful facts

Memorizing non-meaningful facts (facts that are not personally interesting and personally relevant) is extremely difficult for most dyslexic children and adults. In school, this leads to difficulty learning:

  • Multiplication tables
  • Days of the week or months of the year in order
  • Science facts: water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, etc.
  • History facts: dates, names, and places. Dyslexic students do well in history classes that emphasize why some event happened, and the consequences of that event, rather than rote memorization of dates and names.

Telling time on a clock with hands

People with dyslexia have extreme difficulty telling time on a clock with hands:

  • When asked what time it, they may say something ridiculous, such as, "It's ten past quarter to."
  • They may be able to tell whole hours and half hours (5:00, 5:30, etc.) but not smaller chunks, such as 5:12.
  • Concepts such as before and after on a clock are confusing.
  • Therefore, time arithmetic is impossible.
  • Getting them a digital clock only helps a little bit.
  • Now they can tell what time it is at the moment, but if you tell them to be home in 15 minutes, they can't figure out when that would be.

Extremely messy bedrooms

People with dyslexia have an extremely difficult time organizing their belongings. They tend to pile things rather than to organize them and put them away. It is almost as though if they can't see the item (if it is behind a door or in a drawer), they will forget where it is. So they have extremely messy bedrooms, lockers, desks, backpacks, purses, offices, and garages.

Math Difficulties

People with dyslexia are often gifted in math. Their three-dimensional visualization skills help them "see" math concepts more quickly and clearly than non-dyslexic people. Unfortunately, difficulties in directionality, rote memorization, reading, and sequencing can make the following math tasks so difficult that their math gifts are never discovered.

  • Memorizing addition and subtraction facts
  • Memorizing multiplication tables
  • Remembering the sequence of steps in long division
  • Reading word problems
  • Copying an answer from one spot to a different spot
  • Starting a math problem on the wrong side
  • Showing their work
  • They often "see" math in their head, so showing their work is almost impossible.
  • Doing math rapidly
  • They often excel at higher levels of math, such as algebra, geometry, and calculus—if they have a teacher who works around the math problems caused by their dyslexia.

Co-existing Conditions

Attention Deficit Disorder (with or without Hyperactivity) Attention Deficit Disorder is a completely separate condition than dyslexia. However, research has shown that at least 40% of people with dyslexia also have AD/HD.

Light Sensitivity (Scotopic Sensitivity)

A small percentage (3% to 8%) of people with dyslexia also have light sensitivity (sometimes called scotopic sensitivity). These people have a hard time seeing small black print on white paper. The print seems to shimmer or move; some see the rivers of white more strongly than the black words. These people tend to dislike florescent lighting, and often "shade" the page with their hand or head when they read.
Colored plastic overlays and/or colored lenses can eliminate the harsh black print against white paper contrast, and may make letters stand still for the first time in someone's life. However, the plastic overlays or colored lenses will not "cure" dyslexia, nor will they teach a dyslexic person how to read.

Sequencing steps in a task

Learning any task that has a series of steps which must be completed in a specific order can be difficult. That's because you must memorize the sequence of steps, and often, there is no logic in the sequence.

These tasks are usually challenging for people with dyslexia:

  • Tying shoelaces: this task not only has a series of steps, but many steps have directionality as part of them. Many children do not master this task until they're teenagers.
  • Printing letters: the reason they form letters with such unusual beginning and ending points is that they can't remember the sequence of pencil strokes necessary to form that letter. So they start somewhere and then keep going until the letter looks approximately right.
  • Doing long division: to successfully complete a long division problem, you must do a series of five steps, in exactly the right sequence, over and over again. They will often know how to do every step in the sequence, but if they get the steps out of sequence, they'll end up with the wrong answer.
  • Touch typing: learning to touch type is an essential skill for people with dysgraphia. But it is usually more difficult (and requires much more effort) for a dyslexic child to learn to type. Not only are the keys on the keyboard laid out in a random order (which requires rote memorization).

Significant Strengths of people with dyslexia

Although their unique brain architecture and "unusual wiring" make reading, writing, and spelling difficult, most people with dyslexia have gifts in areas controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain. The right side controls:

  • artistic skill
  • athletic ability
  • musical ability
  • mechanical ability
  • people skills
  • 3-D visual-spatial skills
  • vivid imagination
  • intuition
  • creative, global thinking
  • curiosity

Good careers for people with dyslexia

You'll find people with dyslexia in every field. However, many excel and become "super stars" in the following fields:

  • architecture
  • interior or exterior design
  • athletics
  • music
  • scientific research
  • performing arts
  • engineering
  • computers
  • electronics
  • mechanics
  • graphic arts
  • photography
  • psychology
  • teaching
  • marketing and sales
  • culinary arts
  • woodworking
  • carpentry
  • performing arts