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Jobs for Dyslexia

Dyslexia is said to be the more known of learning disabilities. As we know, dyslexia is the disability of written comprehension. This results in poor educational outcomes which in turn can result in difficulty finding a stable job. Problems with reading and writing can make it difficult to apply for jobs. It may also be difficult to do some aspects of a job without the employer making some adjustments.[1]

This poses problems for dyslexic people as it lowers their self -worth.

Image courtesy of barbaraleung.com. Job hunting can be daunting especially for dyslexics.

Now to avoid this, what specific jobs are more suitable for dyslexics?

When considering a career or a job move, it is important for the dyslexic candidate to carefully and honestly think about their strengths, weaknesses and skill sets[1] as said by the British Dyslexia Association, since there are different sets of strengths and weaknesses per person so does the dyslexic. As said there is no all-in-one approach per each dyslexic. This means finding a job that matches a dyslexic’s talent and strength is a solution for this.

You may find it helpful to draw up a table of your strengths, your weaknesses and skill sets. Then look at the job description and see how closely you match.[1]

This is easier said than done. In reality difficulty lies ahead for dyslexics to find a suitable job. It’s not that there are only sparse jobs, but the way dyslexia presents to employers. Surely employers would prefer neurotypicals without appreciating dyslexics’ talents and abilities and this causes frustration to dyslexics. One dyslexic shared his experience as a jobseeker struggling in the job market[2]:

It has been a struggle to find a job since graduating; not just because less full-time jobs are available for graduates, but also because it can be time consuming and difficult to find appropriate roles, and to discuss my skills and abilities in writing. It’s not just a case of errors in grammar and spelling.

According to Gail Alexander, a dyslexia practitioner at the University of Southampton says that dyslexia does not manifest itself in the same way for every candidate. They may have problems with “ordering their ideas, clearly structuring sentences and giving explicit examples of qualities and experiences.”[2]

Now what really to do to help the dyslexic find a suitable job that matches his strengths?

If you have dyslexia and struggles in finding the right job for you, have yourself be assessed by a career coach, be it your parent, teacher, school guidance counselor or a private organisation that specialises in helping dyslexics or with learning disabilities, that is aside from yourself who’ll know your real strengths. This way you’ll have other people’s points of view regarding your strengths and weaknesses.

It’s important to make sure that you apply for jobs that match your abilities.[2] Then you can approach a dyslexia foundation or student/university support in your area to help you find the right job for you. Then fix your resume, practise proper grooming and rehearse for interview, etc.

But there’s still a challenge when it comes to the job application itself.  That is disclosing whether you have dyslexia. Nevertheless, in developed countries, dyslexia is included in disabilities which should never be discriminated. This means no employer has the right to deny you just because you’re dyslexic and that is discrimination. It is therefore important to disclose your dyslexia to your potential employer to avoid trouble when you’re already in the workplace.

Image courtesy of triangleinteractive.org.

What are the strengths people with dyslexia have?

Many dyslexic people have above average talents in a number of important areas. While not everyone will have outstanding gifts, all will have strengths. Skills such as big-picture thinking, lateral thinking and problem solving, visual strengths and an intuitive understanding of how things work are often the hallmarks of successful dyslexic people.[1]

When a dyslexic knows his or her strengths it would be easier for him or her to find a suitable job.

Usual strengths of dyslexics and suitable jobs[3]:

Visual Thinking

Dyslectics are visual thinkers who process information through images rather than words.[3]

Spatial Relationships

In their 2011 book, “The Dyslexic Advantage,” Brock and Fernette Eide explore the strong sense of spatial relationships that is common among dyslectics. The Eides describe dyslectics as big-picture thinkers who are able to see how different components relate.[3]

Business Careers

Many dyslectics grow up struggling in school, where they are seen as slow or handicapped. Julie Logan, a professor at London’s Cass Business School, believes the survival skills dyslectic children pick up in school are skills that lead to success in business. Dyslexic children face continual failure in traditional schools steeped in reading and writing. But the ability to accept setbacks and failure as part of the process is a key trait among successful entrepreneurs.[3]

Creative Jobs and Careers

In settings dominated by the linear logic of language, some dyslectics disorient themselves and take refuge in their visual thoughts that they experience almost as if they were real. Their imaginative strength and their ability to understand through feelings, or to empathize, gives them some natural abilities for performing arts careers such as acting and dance.[3]

What careers or jobs are dyslexia friendly?

People with dyslexia are frequently successful in entrepreneurship, sales, art and design, entertainment, acting, engineering, architecture, I.T., computer animation, technical and practical trades and professions.[1]

With this the dyslexic has more chances of having a long term job or career.

Reference:

  1. http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/dyslexic/workplace-information
  2. http://www.theguardian.com/careers/careers-blog/jobseekers-dyslexia-challenges-solutions
  3. http://work.chron.com/jobs-dyslexic-adults-18389.html

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Letters What? (Dyslexia)

Hmmm…for us, letters are just granted in our everyday lives. After all, they are just…letters. Letters to read, letters that convey words…bu alas, not all of us can read or comprehend letters or overall written language in general. Some people do really have that kind of condition. Thus is what we call dyslexia.

What is it?

Dyslexia, also known as alexia[1] or developmental reading disorder,[2] is characterized by difficulty with learning to read and with differing comprehension of language despite normal or above-average intelligence.[3][4][5] A person who has dyslexia is called a dyslexic.[6]

In layman’s term, a person with dyslexia or a dyslexic cannot understand what he or she reads or what it is written. It does not necessarily mean that a dyslexic is not intelligent. He or she can be fluent in speaking, physically active without motor weakness, in short, normal in all aspects of development, except for his or her reading comprehension. The condition is slightly more

It is not caused by vision problems. The disorder is a specific information processing problem. It does not interfere with one’s ability to think or to understand complex ideas. The condition often runs in families.[7]

What are the signs and synptoms of dyslexia?

Although symptoms may vary among individuals, here is the list of warning signs per developmental stage:

Warning Signs in Preschool or Kindergarten[8]:
-Has trouble recognizing the letters of the alphabet
-Struggles to match letters to sounds, such as not knowing what sounds b or h make
-Has difficulty blending sounds into words, such as connecting C-H-A-T to the word chat
-Struggles to pronounce words correctly, such as saying “mawn lower” instead of “lawn mower”
-Has difficulty learning new words
-Has a smaller vocabulary than other kids the same age
-Has trouble learning to count or say the days of the week and other common word sequences
-Has trouble rhyming

Warning Signs in Grade School or Middle School[8]:
-Struggles with reading and spelling
-Confuses the order of letters , such as writing “left” instead of “felt”
-Has trouble remembering facts and numbers
-Has difficulty gripping a pencil
-Has difficulty using proper grammar
-Has trouble learning new skills and relies heavily on memorization
-Gets tripped up by word problems in math
-Has a tough time sounding out unfamiliar words
-Has trouble following a sequence of directions

Warning Signs in High School[8]:
-Struggles with reading out loud
-Doesn’t read at the expected grade level
-Has trouble understanding jokes or idioms
-Has difficulty organizing and managing time
-Struggles to summarize a story
-Has difficulty learning a foreign language

That makes a dyslexic suffer from not understanding written language and its consequeces. Thus, it makes him or her frustrated, and predisposes him or her to depression or anxiety or other mood disorders.

Really? But letters are easy to learn.

Yes, easy for us. But not for dyslexics. As what it is stated, a dyslexic has no visual problems and usually has normal to above-average intelligence. The problem lies here.

wpid-dyslexicvision.png
Image courtesy of Wikipedia[5]

As you can see in the above picture, a dyslexic can see written words like this. It is not caused by blurry vision or eye disorder, but rather abnormal development of their visual nerve cells.[5][9]

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) have produced a correlation between functional and structural differences in the brains of children with reading difficulties. Some individuals with dyslexia show less electrical activation in parts of the left hemisphere of the brain involved in reading.[5][10]

In a nutshell, there is a ‘short circuit’ in the reading area part of the brain, that makes it difficult to read and interpret words.

Dyslexia can lead to a number of problems, including:

Trouble learning. Because reading is a skill basic to most other school subjects, a child with dyslexia is at a disadvantage in most classes and may have trouble keeping up with peers.[11]

Social problems. Left untreated, dyslexia may lead to low self-esteem, behavior problems, anxiety, aggression, and withdrawal from friends, parents and teachers.[11]

Problems as adults. The inability to read and comprehend can prevent a child from reaching his or her potential as the child grows up. This can have long-term educational, social and economic consequences.[11]

If without support, dyslexics can end up unemployed, divorced, or with lifelong struggle to live independently.

How is dyslexia diagnosed and treated?

To diagnose dyslexia, the health care provider will:

-Perform a complete medical exam, including a neurological exam
-Ask questions about the person’s developmental, social, and school performance
-Ask if anyone else in the family has had dyslexia[7]

This is to rule out if someone suspected has other conditions that hamper reading comprehension.

If all tests are ruled out and there is no other condition, then a diagnosis of dyslexia is made.

There is no treatment for dyslexia. Instead, there are therapies aimed for improving reading comprehension using individualized approach since the severity affects each dyslexic differently. It can be through flash cards or tape classroom lessons and homework assignments instead of taking notes about them.[12] Tutoring nad extra test time (though it’s too ideal) also may help and also use of computers with either large fonts or dyslexia-friendly fonts like Dyslexie, OpenDyslexic, and Lexia Readable[5] can help in making dyslexia less difficult to manage.

Can dyslexics be successful?

Of course yes. Given early identification and intervention and also support from loved ones, a dyslexic can be successful in life. He or she can compensate in other areas of interest like in math, science, art, sports, and others. In fact, many smart and talented people have dyslexia. Here are some examples[13]:

-Leonardo da Vinci, painter and polymath
-Galileo Galilei, scientist
-Pierre Curie, scientist
-Alexander Graham Bell, inventor and scientist
-Nikola Tesla, scientist and engineer

Huh? Scientists only?

Okay, no. There are also celebrities[13]:

-Ozzy Osbourne, musician
-Keanu Reeves, actor
-Whoopi Goldberg, American actress, comedienne, TV personality
-Cher, singer and actress, and Chaz Bono (formerly known as Chastity)
-Tom Cruise, actor
-Orlando Bloom, actor
-Patrick Dempsey, actor
-Salma Hayek, actress
-Keira Knightley, actress
-Bella Thorne, American actress
-Joss Stone, singer
-Jay Leno, talk show host and comedian

And dyslexics in other fields[13]:

-Anderson Cooper, American journalist
-Jamie Oliver, chef and television host
-Tim Tebow, American football player
-Lee Kuan Yew, first Prime Minister of Singapore
-Steven Spielberg, film director
-Pablo Picasso, Spanish artist, sculptor
-Jules Verne, French author
-Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc

So, who says a person with dyslexia cannot succeed in life? If you suspect a loved one or a friend or a colleague has dyslexia, understanding, support, and management is needed for him or her instead of discrimination or ridicule, so that at the end of the day, he or she can be productive as any human can be.

wpid-955114304713.dys_.gif

Image courtesy of KidsHealth.org[12]

Who says reading is the only way to acquire knowledge? Hmm…

Dyslexia is only one of the conditions under neurodiversity. There are more conditions which will be written next time.

References:

[1] Benson, David (1996). Aphasia: A Clinical Perspective. Oxford University Press. p. 180. ISBN 9780195089349.
[2] “Developmental reading disorder”. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
[3] Silverman, Linda Kreger (2000). “The Two-Edged Sword of Compensation: How the Gifted Cope with Learning Disabilities”. In Kay, Kiesa. Uniquely Gifted: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of the Twice-exceptional Student. Avocus. pp. 153–9. ISBN 978-1-890765-04-0.
[4] “Dyslexia Information Page”. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 12 May 2010. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
[5] http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyslexia
[6] Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2014 application
[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002379/
[8] https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/understanding-dyslexia#item3
[9] Stein, John (2014). “Dyslexia: the Role of Vision and Visual Attention”. Current Developmental Disorders Reports 1 (4): 267–80. PMC 4203994. PMID 25346883.
[10] Cao, F; Bitan, T; Chou, T. L.; Burman, D. D.; Booth, J. R. (October 2006). “Deficient orthographic and phonological representations in children with dyslexia revealed by brain activation patterns”. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines 47 (10): 1041–50. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2006.01684.x. PMC 2617739. PMID 17073983
[11] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dyslexia/basics/complications/con-20021904
[12] http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/learning_problem/dyslexia.html#
[13] http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_diagnosed_with_dyslexia

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Wired Differently

I’m back. Last time, I introduced you what will I blog in this page. Now, I will define my topic. We sometimes encounter people who are weird in some ways and think and behave in a manner which deviates from normal. We usually refer to them as ‘wired differently’ or simply abnormal or ‘special.’ In the medical community, they are diagnosed with ‘learning disabilities.’ But not all of them agree with this concept. Instead, they advocate neurodiversity.

What? What’s that word again?

Neurodiversity. According to the definition in Wikipedia, neurodiversity is an approach to learning and disability that suggests that diverse neurological conditions appear as a result of normal variations in the human genome.[1] This term was coined in the late 1990s as a challenge to prevailing views of neurological diversity as inherently pathological, and it asserts that neurological differences should be recognized and respected as a social category on a par with gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability status.[2] To make this definition a little less complicated, let’s just compare this to biodiversity. Like in ecosystems where there are diverse species of life forms from plants to animals, the same goes for humans who have brains wired differntly resulting in multiple intelligences and differing in the way of thinking.

But how is that? Of course people think differently. Each person is unique.

Err, what shall I say? Yes, each individual thinks differently, but what I mean is the way the brain develops from childhood to adulthood. Let me explain further.

Neurodiversity encompasses all people whose brains develop differently from the normal people. The development can be either delayed or advanced or deficient. People under neurodiversity are called neurodovergent. Neurodiversity include dyslexia (difficulty in reading letters), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (short attention span, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (hyperfocus to detail, deficient in social skills), Tourette syndrome (involuntary body movement), developmental coordination disorder (DCD) or dyspraxia (difficulty in planning and coordinating movement), and dyscalculia (difficulty in reading numbers, or ‘dyslexia of numbers.’) These conditions are also collectively known as learning disabilities. On the other hand, people whose brains develop without these conditions stated above are called neurotypical.[3]

This concept has attracted controversy because it attacks the traditional notion that ADHD, ASD, and the like are disabilities that are needed to be fixed or cured, but rather, respect the differences in thinking as part of the normal human genome variation, just like the variations in human sexual orientation or variations in human physical appearances.

Neurodiversity is a concept akin to biodiversity or cultural diversity that recognizes neurological disorders as a natural human variation. Rather than looking for cures, neurodiversity advocates work to promote social support systems and spotlight the value of neurological differences, in the same vein as variations in learning styles or social tendencies like introversion and extroversion.[4]

In short, people under neurodiversity are just normal variations of the human specie, not an abnormality of some sort.

To illustrate this, the diagram of neurodiversity[7] by the late Mary Colley, author of Living With Dypraxia, is shown below:
image

That’s the presentation with the difficulties associated with those conditions. The following diagram[8] below shows the strength with each condition:
image

They’re really overlapping. Okay, I think you are somewhat getting the point, but who started and how did neurodiversity begin?

An autism advocate and an autist herself, Judy Singer, coined the term in 1990s as part of the autism advocacy campaign.[2] Another autism advocate, Jim Sinclair, wrote in his 1993 article “Don’t Mourn For Us” told parents that the autism itself cannot be separated from the person who is born with it, but rather part of the person itself.[5] The term neurodiversity appeared on Harvey Blume’s 1998 The Atlantic article where he said, “Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment? Cybernetics and computer culture, for example, may favor a somewhat autistic cast of mind.”[6]

Since then, hundreds of people with otherwise neurotypical development have advocated neurodiversity as the way of being the way sub-Saharan Africans in the United States and LGBT communities have advocated their rights before. A lot of neurodiverse people have contributed to society whether be in art, science, politics, and so forth. However, people with neurodiverse conditions are still continued to be bullied, ridiculed, and abused in all walks of life from infancy to old age. That’s why they are prone to suffer from anxiety and depression. Nevertheless, neurodiversity campaign remains strong, and more neurotypical people are beginning to accept neurodiverse people as who they are, particularly in the Western World.

It’s a long way to go. They’re really wired differently, but the same members of the modern human specie Homo sapiens like us.

Next time, I will post about the different conditions under neurodiversity one by one, their presentation, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, advocacy, and some samples of people who have these conditions.

References:

[1] Jaarsma P, Welin S (February 2011). “Autism as a Natural Human Variation: Reflections on the Claims of the Neurodiversity Movement” (PDF). Health Care Anal 20 (1): 20–30.
[2] http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurodiversity.
[3] Sinclair, Jim (1998). “A note about language and abbreviations”. Archived from the original on 2008-06-06.
[4] http://www.pbs.org/pov/neurotypical.
[5] Autism Network International newsletter, Our Voice, Volume 1, Number 3, 1993.
[6] Blume, Harvey (September 30, 1998). “Neurodiversity”. The Atlantic. Retrieved November 7, 2007.
[7] http://joelgethinlewis.com/2013/05/23/self-storm-troopers-strongbox-neurodiversity-and-snowfall/
[8] http://www.geniuswithin.co.uk/infographics/neuro-diversity-venn-diagram/