Recently we discovered a wonderful table in an article by Angela Shaw in Exceptional Parent. Angela began her article by talking about the daily challenges that dyslexic students face because of the potential for repeated failure in the classroom. One way to battle attacks on student resilience and self-esteem is to recognize and find ways to capitalize on the strengths present in dyslexic individuals of all ages.

A NON-EXHAUSTIVE AGE-BASED LIST OF STRENGTHS THAT ARE OFTEN PRESENT, AT VARYING DEGREES, WITHIN AN INDIVIDUAL IDENTIFIED WITH DYSLEXIA

 

K-1

• Curiosity
• A great imagination
• The ability to figure things out
• Eager embrace of new ideas
• Getting the gist of things
• A good understanding of new concepts
• Surprising maturity
• A larger vocabulary for the age group
• Enjoyment in solving puzzles
• Talent at building models
• Excellent comprehension of stories read or told to him

2nd and up

• Excellent thinking skills: conceptualization, reasoning, imagination, abstraction
• Learning that is accomplished best through meaning rather than rote memorization
• Ability to get the “big picture”
• A high level of understanding of what is read to him
• The ability to read and to understand at a high level overlearned (that is, highly practiced) words in a special area of interest; for example, if his hobby is restoring cars, he may be able to read auto mechanic magazines
• Improvement as an area of interest becomes more specialized and focused, when he develops a miniature vocabulary that he can read.
• A surprisingly sophisticated listening vocabulary
• Excellence in areas not dependent on reading, such as math, computers, and visual arts, or excellence in more conceptual (versus factoid-driven) subjects, such as philosophy, biology, social studies, neuroscience, and creative writing.

Young Adults & Adults

• The maintenance of strengths noted in the school-age period
• A high learning capability
• A noticeable improvement when given additional time on multiple-choice examinations
• Noticeable excellence when focused on a highly specialized area, such as medicine, law, public policy, finance, architecture, or basic science
• Excellence in writing if content and not spelling are important
• A noticeable articulateness in the expression of ideas and feelings
• Exceptional empathy and warmth, and feeling for others
• Success in areas not dependent on rote memory
• A talent for high-level conceptualization and the ability to come up with original insights
• Big-picture thinking
• Inclination to think outside of the box
• A noticeable resilience and ability to adapt.