In previous blogs we have been chatting about the challenges of having dyslexia, but dyslexia is also a gift. No one embodies this more than Erika Gabrys. Those with dyslexia see things differently, in a much more visual, spatial way. They are often highly creative and innovative problem solvers. As hard as the journey can be for someone with dyslexia to overcome their language-based learning differences, they have valuable contributions that are just waiting to be discovered.
I was Erika’s academic coach at Wright Academics, and recently, I was able to catch up with her via Zoom. Our conversation was full of gratitude, both hers and mine. She expressed the challenges of her journey with dyslexia: the diminished confidence and frustration that come along with a language-based learning difference. However, with attentive tutoring and intervention, she has come to see her dyslexia as an incredible gift; she gets to see things in a much different way than her peers. Erika discovered that she thinks very much outside the box, often more creatively and innovative than, occasionally, even her teachers in school; her approach is not linear. Her ability to be a creative problem solver has served her well in her school career thus far.
When Erika started looking at her dyslexia as a gift, her confidence grew and that confidence spilled over into many other areas of her life. She started to think to herself, “I really am smart. I do have something to bring to the table. I can really contribute.” Erika is spot on, and, in fact, many businesses actually look for people with dyslexia because they are such creative problem solvers. Some of the most successful people are dyslexic; in fact, Richard Branson, Albert Einstein, Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg, and Bill Gates all have dyslexia.
Erika’s advice for kids is this: being diagnosed with dyslexia is not the end of the world; the challenges are hard but really good things can come out of your journey with dyslexia. For parents, Erika suggests providing a consistently safe and supportive environment for their student at home. Often tasks like reading are hard for dyslexic students, so encourage students to read but do not put pressure on them. Finally, for teachers, Erika emphasizes the importance of individual attention. Individual attention gives the teacher time and space to see their students’ struggles and strengths.
Erika’s mom is dyslexic, and by understanding the struggles AND gifts of being dyslexic, her mom was able to provide an encouraging environment for Erika to grow, explore, work hard, and embrace her strengths. Dyslexia often does run in families, but family members can often provide compassionate, kind support in a way that would not be possible had they not experienced dyslexia themselves.
Erika serves as an inspiration to many of us that our perceived weaknesses can truly turn out to be our greatest strengths, even if we cannot see it at first. If you or someone you know or love is struggling with dyslexia, we are here to help.
If you are interested in learning more about our academic coaching or the resources we recommend, click HERE.
About Evelyn Wright
Evelyn Wright is the Director of Wright Academics, a tutoring business created to target kids’ specific needs. Her passion is helping students and families succeed so that they achieve their maximum potential in and out of the classroom.
With over 25 years of experience working with children and their families in public and private schools, as well as in private practice, Evelyn’s focus is understanding the individual’s learning profile, guiding families of children with learning differences and matching students to the tutor or coach that best fits the student. She believes in not only matching educational needs to the right tutor’s skills, but matching a student to the tutor with the right personality.