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Reading the Wikipedia article on Dyslexia, it sounds very negative. The article defines Dyslexia as a learning disability, which I understand it is classified as. However, knowing individuals with dyslexia, they do not consider themselves to have a disability, they say that their brains process information differently. Not worse, just differently. And I can attest to the fact that some of the people I know who are Dyslexic far exceed my abilities in certain areas, namely music, picture / visual / spacial skills, memory, timing, etc.

The Wikipedia article mentions no benefits to dyslexia.

  • Have any studies been done on benefits of dyslexia?
  • If so, what were the findings ?
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Interesting question; as a general side point, many abilities are uncorrelated or weakly correlated; thus, if we assume that music/picture/visual/spatial abilities, etc. are unrelated to whether someone has dyslexia, then on average the distribution of scores on such abilities will show a spread, probably a normal distribution, for both people with and without dyslexia. As such it wouldn't be surprising that you would know some people with dyslexia who are high on some abilities, and for this fact to also have nothing to do with their dyslexia. –  Jeromy Anglim Jan 28 '12 at 4:11
@JeromyAnglim: Good point. I would be interested to know if it's a common trait amongst most people with dyslexia that they have increased abilities elsewhere. However it's possible that no studies have been done on this, possibly because it's just too difficult to measure... –  Josh Gitlin Jan 28 '12 at 14:25
I have ADHD and dyslexia since I was a child but I didnt know it. I remained average and having trouble in school but proved otherwise outside of school. I was very business minded and would relate many different things together. I graduated college with a 2.17 gpa, and after realizing I had this I ignored the stuff my childhood teachers would tell me. it started coming to me That knowing how to fix cars, computers, programming, teaching myself algebra 2, Sanskrit, Arabic, ancient Greek, guitar, music theory, etc. Was a unique ability I had. Learning things like languages only take me ~30 days –  user873 Jun 20 '12 at 14:40
Hey @Ash, welcome to the site! I converted your answer to a comment as it's more personal experience than a scientific answer, but I appreciated it! It fits in line with the experience I described in my question. –  Josh Gitlin Jun 20 '12 at 14:52
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1 Answer

up vote 9 down vote accepted

This is not my area, but I did a little research and found a few things:

Silverman (2000) has an interesting article discussing children who are gifted but also have a learning disability. The article makes a number of interesting points about how other skills are often developed in order to compensate for a given disability (e.g., like how people who are vision impaired are better able to use their remaining senses).

In relation to dyslexia, Silverman summarises the work of Ron Davis. Specifically, Silverman stated that:

Ron Davis (1994), in The Gift of Dyslexia, describes the benefits of dyslexia. He lists the basic abilities that all dyslexics share:

  1. They can utilize the brain’s ability to alter and create perceptions (the primary ability).
  2. They are highly aware of the environment.
  3. They are more curious than average.
  4. They think mainly in pictures instead of words.
  5. They are highly intuitive and insightful.
  6. They think and perceive multi-dimensionally (using all the senses).
  7. They can experience thought as reality.
  8. They have vivid imaginations. (p. 5)

That said, I haven't read the book, and I'm unclear on the degree of empirical support for these claims.


  • Davis, R. D. (with E. M. Braun). (1994). The gift of dyslexia. Burlingame, CA: Ability Workshop Press.
  • Silverman, L. (2000). The two-edged sword of compensation: How the gifted cope with learning disabilities. In Uniquely gifted: Identifying and meeting the needs of twice exceptional learners, pages 153-159. FREE PDF
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Both of those sources focus on "Gifted children with learning disabilities" -meaning that they have talents in other areas. People with disabilities can compensate, but we also could have been spending that time and energy doing other things. Some disabilities do correlate with being above average in other areas, but I only know of bipolar. A disability can certainly alter ones perception, but one has to go digging to find any measure of life quality that would show improvement for the average person. –  Indolering Feb 4 '12 at 3:27
@Indolering Dyslexia correlates to an average or above average IQ. Dyslexics can learn advanced coping skills to make them seem otherwise normal. The coping skills take time to learn and implement. They cause them to perform much slower than average but allow them to create many times outstanding results. –  caseyr547 Jan 11 at 21:23
Having dyslexia I can give anecdotal support that this seems correct in my instance at least. –  caseyr547 Jan 11 at 21:27
How strong is that correlation and are you sure it's not just based on middle-income families having enough money to get a diagnosis? Self-referred ADHD adults have a normal IQ but it is more likely a function of their middle-class status. I know really smart dyslexics but it is a huge barrier to their life goals. Time spent compensating is time not spent doing a range of other activities. : ( –  Indolering Jan 12 at 0:11
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