God's Word for today

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Dyslexia rules, KO?

I spent some time with Michael Stone a couple of nights ago, looking at the work he has done thus far towards his PhD, with a view to assisting him with the editing thereof.  There are two reasons why he has asked me to do this - firstly, because I write for MoneywebTax and should (hopefully) know something about expressing ideas and thoughts in words, ans secondly, because he is dyslexic.

It's an interesting phenomenon, dyslexia - particularly so since my wife Belinda is also dyslexic.  And it's interesting because dyslexics think differently to the rest of us.  For instance, Michael explained that if one had to look at the spelling of the word "cat", a non-dyslexic would come up with the one correct spelling thereof in a split second.  However, the dyslexic has to process through the 3 to the power of 3 incorrect spellings, by process of elimination, to get to the one correct spelling - all within the same time-frame!

As a result, as a dyslexic progresses through the school system and the work becomes more complex, they appear slower but in fact are suffering from severe information overload.  Try opening ALL of your computer applications at the same time, and you'll get some idea of what the dyslexic's mind goes through.

Yet dyslexia manifests in sheer genius, if properly channelled.  For instance, if my wife and I plan an outing, within seconds she has already worked through all the possible scenarios in her mind - what we will be doing, is there a pool there, what if it rains, is there somewhere else we can go if Plan A doesn't work out ... and packs a bag accordingly.  When James was a baby, her nappy bag contained apparatus for every possible emission of bodily fluids imaginable.  And she's the only lady I know who can pack a caravan perfectly - and I mean PERFECT: balanced, everything there, not too light, not too heavy - all this without any instruction or even having read any books on how a van should be packed.

Michael demonstrated her ability in an amazing way at seminary yesterday.  Because we are moving onto a new campus, everything is still being installed, and we saw an empty box for an LCD computer monitor.  Now I have seen this particular monitor before, but up to this point Belinda has not - she only saw the box.  However, based on the dimensions of the box and with a few questions from Michael as to size, dimensions - even colour and number of buttone - she was able to accurately describe the monitor in the minutest detail, even though she has never seen it.

Now I understand why Belinda regards Michael as the greatest preacher she has ever heard.  As fellow dyslexics, they both start off with a single idea and then branch off in a hundred different directions.  And the sentences are often incomplete, but that doesn't matter, since in their minds the idea, and its connection to the next idea, has already been formulated in wide screen, high-definition, vivid colour.  The rest of us, of course, don't have a clue where they are going, because we think in linear patterns.  The dyslexic is thinking Midlands Meander, while the non-dyslexic thinks N3.

However, when you live with a dyslexic, you develop a sixth sense after a while.  For instance, when my wife and I arrived at a home cell meeting the one day, as we were about to sit down she told my that I'd left my "goodie" in the "whatsername".  My immediate response was that I did not leave my Bible in the car, as I was using my pocket NIV that night.  The others thought she was speaking in tongues, and that I had the gift of interpretation!

As you can imaging by now, the dyslexic thought pattern is playing havoc on Michael's PhD.  While his insights are deep, profound, and well-researched - better than I could do in a million years - his thoughts appear to be random, just like the Midlands Meander.  And his professor is, of course, an N3 man who wants to get on the highway at the beginning and, barring the odd pit-stop, will not leave the dual carriageway until it ends.  So hopefully I can use my professional writing background, my logical thought process, and my 19 years of being married to a dyslexic to help Michael arrange his Meander thesis in a way that N3 minds can understand it.

Dyslexia is far more common than people realise, and there are many famous dyslexics.  Dyslexic actors include Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg; athletes include arguably the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali, and three-time Formula One World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart; on the business front we have Henry Ford and Virgin's Sir Richard Branson; music - John Lennon and Cher; politics - Sir Winston Churchill; Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams; animation genius Walt Disney - and of course, Methodist minister Rev Michael Stone, and (last but by no means least) the love of my life, Belinda.

So dyslexia rules, KO?

1 comment:

markpenrith said...

"The others thought she was speaking in tongues, and that I had the gift of interpretation!"

:)