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15 Things To Remember If You Love A Person With Dyslexia

15 Things To Remember If You Love A Person With Dyslexia

Dyslexia is all too often regarded as a stigmatizing label and there are many misconceptions about this minor learning disorder. If you love someone with dyslexia, you may well have come across some of these myths and stereotypes. So, to set the record straight, here are 15 reminders if you love someone with dyslexia. Pass it on to anyone else who may have the same problem.

1. They are just as intelligent as everyone else.

Dyslexia is just a minor difference in the way the brain processes sounds, letters, words and can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. It is just that the dyslexic sufferer’s brain is wired differently. Richard Ford and Albert Einstein are two inspiring examples of extremely gifted people who had the same problem, yet they made an enormous contribution to knowledge, literature and science. Dyslexia is not a measure of anyone’s intelligence.

2. They need to be spotted early.

The earlier the better. If you have noticed that there are problems with your child in processing letters, sounds, spelling and reading and maybe writing, then it may be time to get him/her tested. The Woodcock-Johnson-Revised Test of Cognitive Ability is one the tests used. Edison’s teacher had no idea what dyslexia was and sent home a note which read, “Too stupid to learn.” With the right help, dyslexic children can thrive and succeed. Look at the list of famous people here who had dyslexia and you will be amazed.

3. They are at risk of falling through the cracks.

The sad fact is that many people who struggle with dyslexia just give up because they are not helped or encouraged enough. We are in danger of losing dyslexics and the figures from one UK prison confirm that. They did a survey at Chelmsford prison of over 2,000 inmates and found that 53% had a problem with dyslexia. That is an incredibly high figure when compared to the rate for the law-abiding population which is around 10%.

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Richard Branson’s teacher had a similar premonition when he remarked that he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire!

4. They need better support at school.

With the right training and use of special techniques, children can overcome their difficulties. A survey in UK found that many dyslexic students ended up frustrated because of unhelpful comments from their teachers. For example, 83% of them were told just to ‘try harder’. What was even worse was the fact that two thirds were forced to read aloud in front of their classmates.

5. They are likely to have inherited this disability.

Scientists have now identified 6 of the genes they believe are responsible for reading and spelling difficulties that children and adults encounter. These genes are those we all use to be aware of sounds, verbal memory and also verbal processing speed. Most experts agree that this is neurological disorder which is often genetic

6. They have problems with letters, sounds and spelling.

From the age of three, you can spot a child who may be dyslexic when they have problems matching sounds of the alphabet with the objects they can represent. For example, one student could not identify the picture of an apple which would illustrate the letter ’A’. Other examples are where words of several syllables may all get jumbled up such as “pasghetti” instead of spaghetti or they may spell animal as “aminal. They will often write the word “said” as “seb”.

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7. They can spot what is out of place.

A dyslexic person is often quicker at discovering what is out of place in a problem, theory or experiment. This ability is what has driven dyslexic scientists to discover anomalies which have led to dazzling awards and prizes. An excellent example is Carole Greider (Nobel Prize in Medicine, 2009) whose discovery of the telomerase enzyme has led to extraordinary advances in the study of aging and cancer. It all started when Carole started investigating a research area which was so far off the beaten track that it was almost off topic.

“One of the things I was thinking about today is that as a kid I had dyslexia. I had a lot of trouble in school and was put into remedial classes. I thought that I was stupid.” – Carole Greider

8. They cannot be creative and they are bound to fail.

This is the greatest myth of all because dyslexics have a lot going for them. Not only are they intuitive and creative but they can be brilliant at hands-on learning and solving three-dimensional problems. These are all abilities which require a lot more than verbal skills, yet our society has always placed a premium on reading speed. What a pity that dyslexics’ talents are not appreciated more.

9. They can take meds for dyslexia.

No, there are no pills to take! There is no cure or medical treatment for dyslexia. Either you manage to use coping mechanisms or you may drop out. Using memory a lot more and substituting acronyms and nonsense words to represent words are ways that children can cope with their reading and spelling difficulties at school.

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10. They need more support and encouragement.

If your loved one has dyslexia and missed out at school where it was never even recognized, you may want to offer help and support now. They may still have problems remembering a name or a fact. Help them get assessed if necessary and then encourage them to get coaching where they can learn more coping strategies. They may need specific help with time management, planning and passing on phone messages, for example.

11. They may need help to discover how they learn best.

Supporting a loved one with dyslexia will involve examining what their learning style is. They may benefit from getting instructions through the auditory channel. Max Brooks, the Hollywood screenwriter, who is dyslexic was helped by his mother when she recorded all the material he needed for learning on audiocassettes!

12. They often hide their problems at work.

Between 10% and 15% of the US population are thought to have dyslexia. In spite of that, dyslexia is often a closely guarded secret as individuals are afraid that disclosure may damage their career. A lot depends on the employer’s attitude to the problem. If they are committed to helping their workers reach their full potential, they will provide screening and support. The problem is that many employers do not.

13. They may have problems at college.

Dyslexic students find that using audio recordings are a great way to fast track their studies because reading is, inevitably, slow. If you need to download recordings of a vast array of literature and textbooks together with magazines, you may find the Learning Ally site is useful. Voice recognition software is a great help too in writing essays and assignments.

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14. They use a different part of their brain to read.

When a neuroscientist discovered that her son was dyslexic she wept because she realized how many obstacles he would face in life. She has written a book on this which has the fascinating title, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. She explains how the dyslexic brain has to learn to juggle letters, sounds and words in the phonological part of the brain, on the right hand side. The non dyslexic person uses other areas and the result is faster reading and writing. The dyslexic’s brain is wired differently to everybody else’s and it takes more time. Reading aloud to a child from an early age may give them an advantage.

15. They are at a disadvantage if they are English speakers.

Part of the problem is that the letters in the English language can have many different sounds. Think of the letter “a”. It can have five different sounds as in safe, apple, alive, acorn and wash. Now in Spanish, the letter “a” always has the same sound so that is why there is not nearly as much dyslexia among Spanish speakers or other languages where there are regular phonetic rules.

The best way of all to encourage a loved one is to push them to get assessment, training, coaching or other support at school and at work and remind them that failure is often the way to success.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

Featured photo credit: Reading together /San José Library via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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