A Dyslexic Writes
An essay on a conundrum of conundrums
‘When I started on this essay people asked me who it was for. Being dyslexic I didn’t really know, I just thought it needed writing. I can’t claim to be an authority on dyslexia, however I may be an authority on being a dyslexic, which a lot of the authorities on dyslexia are not.
As people read A Dyslexic Writes they keep telling me who they think will benefit from it. Their views cover a wide spectrum and it’s become apparent that people who read it are taking out a lot more than I consciously put in — that’s a warm feeling, but a bit scary.’
Al Campbell, October 2009
The perceived wisdom is that around 1 in every 10 people is dyslexic. More recent analysis suggests the figure may be as high as 1 in 8. On that basis there are somewhere between 5,400,000 and 6,500,000 dyslexics in the UK. Even if you’re not dyslexic chances are you will know a fair few.
Al Campbell is dyslexic, although he didn’t find out until he was 50. His book, A Dyslexic Writes, is a rare thing — a book about dyslexia, written by a dyslexic, from a dyslexic point of view.
According to Al dyslexia is a conundrum hidden inside another conundrum, or perhaps three. There are, he says, no obvious symptoms of dyslexia other than ‘what’s not there that should be’. Dyslexics live in a world where some of the ‘stuff’ the non-dyslexic world has is missing, and are all individual.
He wrote the book after meeting the team at the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre when he was working on their new website. Talking with them he felt there was a strong need for a positive and good humoured book that explored all the many facets of dyslexia, in particular the many and varied problem-solving and creative strengths from which dyslexics benefit.
The fact is that dyslexics are typically individuals of above average IQ who under-perform in written or exam conditions. Al’s preferred definition of dyslexia is:
"Dyslexia is something that prevents an individual from performing tasks to the levels you would normally expect given his or her true potential."
The 90 page book has already attracted many supportive comments, especially about the view it takes of dyslexia and a dyslexics’ progress in a wider challenging world. It uses personal anecdotes about Al and his dyslexic children to illustrate the challenges, pitfalls and successes of living a dyslexic life.
Those seeking positive insight need look no further than the mantra Al suggests dyslexics should recite in front of the mirror every morning:
"Alright, so my brain doesn’t work the same way most people’s do. The great thing for me is that it’s clever enough to help me work out how to compensate so I can learn to do all the things everybody else can, just as well as they do, if I work hard. The sad thing for everybody else is they’ll probably never be able to learn to do half the things that come really easily to me."
If upon reading A Dyslexic Writes you would like to contact Al you can mail him via firstname.lastname@example.org