In the Mind's Eye: Visual Thinkers, Gifted People with Dyslexia and Other Learning Difficulties, Computer Images, and the Ironies of Creativity

By Thomas G. West | Go to book overview

2 Dyslexia and Learning Difficulties from the Inside

Articles on dyslexia and learning disabilities have been appearing in the popular press off and on for a number of years. However, first-person accounts of the experience of dyslexics have been quite rare until comparatively recently. Among the earliest book-length personal accounts was Eileen Simpson Reversals, published in 1979. Earlier accounts were few and short. As Simpson observes in the preface to her book, "The autobiographical accounts one does find are brief . . . anonymous or pseudonymous. Even nowadays, when the confessional mode is in style, and people talk candidly about what used to be called their private lives, the inhibition against revealing intellectual failures and limitations is strong. The old shame and fear of ridicule remain forever lively."1

Accordingly, we should not be surprised to find that one of the earliest and most common responses of the dyslexic to his or her condition is to hide it, often going to great lengths to maintain an elaborate pretense. It should also be no surprise, consequently, that dyslexics, whether children or adults, are rarely willing to remove a cover they have built with much care over many years (especially if the intellectual milieu of the time provides no clear rationale for benefiting themselves or others through such revelations). Fortunately, this has begun to change.

Although the inability to read printed words had come to be recognized in the medical literature as a specific problem as early as the 1890s, it was most often seen as merely an indicator of low intellectual ability. 2 How-

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