You might hear people—even smart adults—say things about dyslexia that aren’t true. Most of them don’t mean to be rude, they just don’t have their facts straight. Here are 6 ways you can (gently) explain dyslexia to them when they get it wrong.
When they say: Oh, dyslexia! That’s where you write letters backward, right?
Tell them: Actually, people with dyslexia might have trouble naming a letter, but letters don’t look backwards to us. Writing letters backwards is something that many kids do when they’re first learning to write, though, whether they have dyslexia or not.
When they say: Most of the kids who have dyslexia are boys, aren’t they?
Tell them: We used to think so, but a big study at Yale found out that the numbers of girls and boys who have dyslexia are about the same.
When they say: But kids with dyslexia outgrow it, don’t they?
Tell them: Nope. Dyslexic kids grow up to be dyslexic adults. But what is true is that there are strategies that can make reading and writing easier for us, whether we’re kids or grown-ups.
When they say: Dyslexic kids must have poor vocabularies.
Tell them: No way! We’re smart kids who know a lot about a lot of things. Like, even when I was little I knew tons about dinosaurs and could tell you all their long names—I just had a hard time reading or writing the word dinosaur, or finding it on the page of a book.
When they say: If you were smarter or worked harder, you wouldn’t have dyslexia.
Tell them: I’m happy to say that one’s really not true. I have a hard time learning to read new words or reading quickly because my brain figures out and recognizes words in a different way than yours does. People with dyslexia have to work harder to read well, but, trust me, we do! In fact, people with dyslexia are usually not only very smart, but also really creative.
When they say: Won’t your dyslexia make it hard to find a job when you get older? What kind of job can you do, anyway?
Tell them: Any job I want! Even though dyslexia makes some things harder for us, there are dyslexics in all kinds of jobs. Some of them are even famous—ever heard of the actor Whoopie Goldberg, the writer John Irving, or the finance guy Charles Schwab? How about Magic Johnson, or that guy who played the elf in The Lord of the Rings movies, Orlando Bloom? If we can dream it, we can do it—just like everyone else.