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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic BrainThe Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain by Brock L. Eide
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Long before I cracked open this book, my initial reaction was: "Oh my goodness, a reason I can feel good about myself without a lick of effort! Do I want a shameless ego-booster and and fluff pop-psychology mood enhancer?"

The answer was, of course, "Absolutely! Gimmie, Gimmie!"

For, you see, I have dyslexia. I have also spent most of my life in serious pursuit of overcompensation, too. I couldn't read before age 13 and I spent most of my effort trying to "fake it" just so I could get through school without being ostracized.

It didn't work. I almost quit school feeling like a complete and utter outsider who was pretty much worthless, which was pretty damn awful because I knew I was smart. I just couldn't make sense of all the easy things that everyone else had an easy time with, while all the complicated intuitional systems-theory top-down approach to a theory of mind came utterly easy to me. Complex ideas? No problem. Conclusions based on very little shown work? No problem.

So then I decided to compensate for my disability by tons of Naruto-like effort and after 8 months working on a single book, I finally came to a Theory Of Reading that relied on an idea-based approach that circled streams of words rather than the words, themselves.

Suddenly, I could read! Well, sort of. I could gist the hell out of anything.

More and more effort was required, and practice, practice, practice, mindful and careful attention to all basic practices of reading and writing, until I eventually worked my way out of special-ed and into honors courses and two degrees in college and eventually to an average 600-700 pages (or more) read per day.

And then we arrive to the reading of this book.

Is the M.I.N.D. approach to understanding both the trials and triumphs of dyslexics useful and edifying? Yes. Yes, it is. I recognized all the ways I think, which is quite different than how most people think. Do normal people build models of interconnected ideas in their heads and attach them all to memory episodes and narratives that tell stories, constantly retelling the tale about oneself as they keep changing and growing?

Um... maybe more than I think?

Is it a useful model to consider myself as having too little RAM, so I have to push almost everything into Permanent Storage on the fly with narrative "cheats"? Yes. Does this explain how I still can't hand-write legibly without losing the full train of thought before I even finish a sentence? Yes. Does it explain why I am always so damn SLOW when I start any new task, but then, after a long, long learning curve, I then blast out the door? Yes.

Do most dyslexics have similar stories? True success stories that NEVER begin in school but generally show an outrageous disproportion of hella-successful people in real life?


I began reading this book from a snide and self-serving pessimism, thinking it was about time that I got some damn recognition instead of ostracism, but I finished it feeling a a pretty warm glow of understanding and camaraderie with the entire subset of the population of which I belong.

Maybe this book was meant for me, after all. In a real way. Not just the way I began it.

And perhaps this book was really meant for my 13 year old me, even more. Can I forget lifelong depression and self-worth issues? Yes. I can. Might it have been so much more productive if I had a book like this at a much earlier time?

I'd like to think so. And that's why I'd recommend this book for anyone with loved ones who have dyslexia. I'd recommend that you read this book to them, aloud, so that the understanding sinks in for both you and them at the same time. The connection you'll form with them will probably be invaluable, perhaps even life-long.

Dyslexia isn't a disease. Even ADHD, which is often a misdiagnosis of dyslexia, falls under the category of people who simply Think Differently. We have lots of talents, but those talents aren't easily identified when the expectations are for completely different skills. :)

Good book. :)

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