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Dyslexic and Gifted

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My 9 years old daughter's IQ test was non verbal 143 and verbal 134. (UK IQ Test). She has mildly dyslexia. Her school grades are Grade B. She is usually bored at home. She is the quiet and shy student in School. How can I, as a parent, help her? 

A: You did not indicate the test that was taken but generally such scores are above average. It is very possible to be dyslexic and gifted and each needs attention separately. The fact that she is mildly dyslexic may mask the need for educational intervention, which may actually help her perform better. Most of us have vague ideas about people with dyslexia; for example, it is often thought that dyslexics may reverse letters in words, or reverse the whole spelling of words; or that the use of colored lenses or a lower lighting level may help, and so on. Carefully analyzed, the fact is actually that the presentation of dyslexia from mild to severe, can vary greatly from one child to another. This means, for some children, they do reverse letters or spelling, others don't; and some may be helped by colored lenses, to others these may be totally irrelevant and unnecessary.

As a parent, you need to know how she is troubled. Perhaps she is not able to express her difficulties and she is just coping at school thinking that she is the way she is and nothing can be done about it. This in fact may explain her boredom, perhaps even at school and for bright children; boredom creates a situation in which less and less actual learning results. She may not be enjoying learning as it may be too difficult for her. Being shy and quiet may not help as well as she may be seen by the teachers as an obedient student who is not having problems in class. Naturally children who are more verbal would get more attention, be it negative or positive. This may all mask the fact that she has been finding it difficult to learn.

In dyslexics, the nature and variety of talents are directly related to the different brain structures seen in and it is no wonder that the problems and the unusual strengths come together in a package that is difficult to separate into parts. In other words, structural brain changes that produce reading difficulties and other problems, may often (however, not always) produce brain changes and differences that can, in turn, be highly beneficial in other areas.

You may also find that apart from reading, writing and spelling, your daughter may also face difficulties memorizing a sequence, or random facts, and on symbol-to-sound and sound-to-symbol despite being exposed to phonics for many years. My suggestion is that you should preferably get some kind of treatment to help her learn better. Her condition may worsen if left untreated, or being bright, she may initiate coping methods on her own as have many other dyslexics (some of whom did not even know that they were dyslexic). Just for your knowledge interest, SM Lee Kuan Yew (Former Prime Minister of Singapore) has been diagnosed mildly dyslexic in his 60's (he had complained not being able to read fast enough without missing important points) and so is his neurologist daughter. So is Einstein!

Books that you might find useful:

The Gift of Dyslexia: Why Some of the Smartest People Can't Read and How They Can Learn by Ronald D. Davis and Eldon M. Braun.

The Pretenders: Gifted People Who Have Difficulty Learning by Barbara P. Guyer.


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