Dyslexia is an evolution, not a disorder.

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Dyslexics’ strength is that their brain is developed to explore the unknown and see larger contexts. It is a characteristic that has helped us survive and evolve as a species. Typical abilities attributed to dyslexics are discovery, innovation and creativity. It does not fit with dyslexia being a neurological disorder.

Several mental processes are a balance of exploration and application. From an evolutionary perspective, individuals specialising within a group are favoured when advantageous traits cannot be combined but must be complemented. This means that if exploration and application cannot be combined entirely, individuals will, over time, specialize towards the respective characteristics. It creates a mutual dependence on each other’s complementary abilities. Dyslexia is one such supplementary exploratory ability. Being dyslexic in today’s information society is challenging, while discovery, innovation and creativity are in demand. We are highly dependent on the supplementary abilities that people with dyslexia can offer but do not take advantage of as we should.

This is what researchers Dr Helen Taylor and Martin Vestergaard at Cambridge University argue in the article “Developmental Dyslexia: Disorder or Specialization in Exploration?” where the new theories are presented. The article was published on Friday after extensive research building on Taylor’s previous research. Taylor believes that we should re-evaluate dyslexia as a complementary trait rather than a disorder that society at large would benefit from by seeing more innovative solutions to the challenges we now face.

With modern tools, the reading difficulties typical of people with dyslexia can be managed. At the same time, the strengths of people with dyslexia can be better expressed. Creativity and exploration are needed in every society, company and team.