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Medical Demystifier Series: DILEMMA OF A GENIUS

“She is such a dumb child!”

“Can’t you get this into your thick skull?!”

“She will never amount to anything”.

“I can’t do this anymore, teaching you is a waste of time and energy”.

Clara grew up hearing these words. As a youngster, she found it so difficult to read or write; she could barely spell her surname. Her classmates had successfully memorized the twenty-six alphabets and could write them confidently, while she struggled to write a perfect A.

She invested all her concentration and was so determined to learn, even when some of her teachers had written her off. But, her dad stood by her. He had this board and some chalk with which he taught her the alphabets and numbers. He never got tired of her many failed attempts, but rather encouraged her to do better.

“You are just like a beautiful flower which takes time to bloom,” her dad would always say.

Her dad kept on teaching, he never gave up on her and today, she is a renowned medical practitioner. 

Some geniuses and creative individuals like Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso also had this difficulty in reading and writing like Clara. Medicals call it ‘Dyslexia.’

Einstein had it bad with teachers as a child, and according to them, he was not going to amount to anything.

“Words or language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought,” these were his words to mathematician Jacques Hadamard in 1945.

It is indeed the dilemma of a genius because those who do not get diagnosed early in life end up being mistreated by teachers, students and even their parents.

What is Dyslexia?

Simply put, it is a reading disorder. Dyslexic individuals have normal intelligence, but have difficultly reading, writing or occasionally speaking. While some have a mild form that eventually gets managed with time, others have a little more trouble overcoming it.

This disorder can be classified into two:

  • Developmental form, that is, dyslexia that begins in early childhood
  • Acquired form, which is as a result of a traumatic brain injury. Dyslexia varies from one person to another.

Causes

Dyslexia is believed to be caused mainly by genetic factors and partly by environmental factors such as teacher quality and parental education. Its link to genes is why it runs in families.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of this disorder can be so difficult to spot until the child starts school. This is why teachers are the first set of people to notice these signs, especially if such a child has trouble reading, writing or adhering to instructions in class. Most teachers misunderstand dyslexic students like Clara, and therefore see them as a burden. The noticeable signs and symptoms are difficulty in speech, reading and writing.

Treatment

Just like most genetic disorders, Dyslexia cannot be cured but it can be managed through the use of therapy like speech therapy, and educational support. Taking time to teach dyslexic persons, while ensuring their stress and anxiety levels are reduced, sometimes improves their comprehension. Most times, dyslexic people need someone like Clara’s father to improve.

“I think the advantage is my brain sees and puts information in my head differently, sometimes more interestingly than I think the way everyone else does,” Whoopie Goldberg (a dyslexic actress) said.

Dyslexic people are not dumb, they are not handicaps, their brains just process information differently. Most, if managed correctly, end up going to college and eventually become great in life.

Advice to parents and teachers

If your child or student is experiencing difficulty learning in the typical way, consider the possibility that they may be dyslexic. Talk to someone who is knowledgeable about dyslexia and other learning disorders. Never give up on a child who could very be a genius waiting to blossom.