“From an early age I had a talent for pattern recognition…(but) it wasn’t until I took the armed forces aptitude tests at age 18 that I started to understand my dyslexia induced gift for spatial recognition. The recruiter was more than a little surprised that a student with a 2.0 grade average maxed out the military’s general, mechanical, and electronics exams. The perplexed onlookers continued in college as the kid who flunked basic algebra in high school got top grades in physics and geometry. After completing a decade in the military assembling, dissembling, testing, and maintaining nuclear weapons I went on to another decade as a Special Agent where I excelled in solving investigative counterintelligence and counterespionage riddles and reading people.
The point is that dyslexia, like many other “handicaps” is not a handicap at all; properly understood, it’s a rare gift that can open the doors to great insight and achievement. In a recent interview with the British Sunday Times, a representative of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ – Britain’s NSA) noted that the GCHQ employs over 120 dyslexic and dyspraxic individuals specifically for their talents and abilities to process and analyze complex data. Like the dyslexic code breaker Alan Turing (widely considered as the father of modern theoretical computer science), these dyslexic and dyspraxic employees lend their special gifts to the investigation of cybercriminals, foreign spies, and terrorists.” – Cybersecurity expert David Lang on his Dyslexia
Thanks David for a great post.
In our clinic, we’ve noticed an impressively high number of dyslexic adults working in technology and more specifically in the field of internet security. Dyslexic strengths in analysis, problem solving, pattern recognition, negative space thinking (what haven’t we thought of) and D strength forecasting all come into such a job.
At our last conference, we had the pleasure of Barrett Lyon being interviewed by venture capitalist Dave Hornik (see below). Barrett’s been called a hero for some of his work stopping Denial of Service attacks. The name of his first company was Prolexic Technologies, in an early nod to the positive side of dyslexia. For more about the early days, check out this New Yorker article.
photo Harland Quarrington