Want to know one of the first things that made us question whether dyslexia was really “just a disorder”? It was when we realized we could often spot a dyslexic person based on something they did really well, not just from their problems. We’d see an invention, or a building, or a movie, or a business, and it would have a certain kind of “flair” or “flavor”—a “wow” factor—that suggested it could only come from a mind that worked in really different and wonderful ways.
A mind that made connections most of us couldn’t see. We found that the more unique and innovative it was—the bigger the leap from what had come before—the greater the odds it came from a dyslexic mind.Check out and vote on our list Coolest Buildings By a Dyslexic Architect and see this “wow” factor works from the world of architecture. You can see it in other fields, as well. Think about product design. The Apple products of the last two decades that are thework of lead designer Jony Ive. James Dyson’s innovative vacuums or hand dryers or air purifiers. Dean Kamen’s Segway or stair-climbing wheelchair. These products share the “extreme creativity” that seems to come so often from dyslexic minds. We’ll close with one of our favorite examples of “reverse diagnosis”. When we were writing our book, The Dyslexic Advantage, we were looking for a perfect example of someoneity and design, and felt certain from theway his mind worked that he must be dyslexic. One person who came immediately to mind was David Kelley, a legend in the world of design. Kelley built the first Apple mouse for Steve Jobs, and founded both IDEO, one of the world’s leading design firms, and the Stanford d.school (Institute of Design). We were huge fans of Kelley’s work on creativity and design, and felt certain from the way his mind worked that he must be dyslexic.
Only problem was, we couldn’t find any mention of dyslexia in all our research about him. So we chose to write about other folks who exemplified I-strengths. Shortly after our book was published we attended a talk Kelley gave. Afterwards someone asked if he’d ever written down the things he was sharing. “Oh no,” he said with a chuckle, “I’m horribly dyslexic—I never write if I can help it!” Have you ever had an experience you’d like to share where someone’s special abilities made you say to yourself, “That person must be dyslexic…”?