Monday, December 10, 2007

A New Angle on Dyslexia

New York Times reports that an unexpectedly high number of small business owners are dyslexic..

The report, compiled by Julie Logan, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Cass Business School in London, found that more than a third of the entrepreneurs she had surveyed — 35 percent — identified themselves as dyslexic. The study also concluded that dyslexics were more likely than nondyslexics to delegate authority, to excel in oral communication and problem solving and were twice as likely to own two or more businesses.

“We found that dyslexics who succeed had overcome an awful lot in their lives by developing compensatory skills,” Professor Logan said in an interview. “If you tell your friends and acquaintances that you plan to start a business, you’ll hear over and over, ‘It won’t work. It can’t be done.’ But dyslexics are extraordinarily creative about maneuvering their way around problems.”

This reminds me of Dr. Robert Sapolsky's lecture on schizophrenia, schizotypalism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder where he suggested that people with such "abnormalities" were often able to find a place in a part of society where activities or traits associated with their "disorder" became assets. Speaking from my experience in the Navy, I could see hints at several personality subgroups in extremely high proportions who were either drawn to or retained by aspects of military service.

Perhaps in addition to seeking ways to "normalize" people clinically, we could also consider exploring activities or career paths that are not only forgiving, but highly compatible with a person's particular situation - a sociological solution to a clinical problem.

1 comment:

Helen said...

I'm a female with ASD.

For the most part I view my aspie traits as beneficial - and I have been able to find a niche where my set of skills is so valuable, the management are willing to overlook the quirks that sometimes escape when I am under pressure (one can only act neurotypical some of the time!).

What made the difference for me? My mother was unconditionally loving, but was a firm task-mistress. She set good examples and gave me opportunities to develop skills. She never criticised ME, she would however be very good at helping me evaluate situations where I was less than successful. I've internalised that routine and can self-critique.

Now if anyone can find me some noise blocking headphones that really work that don't mess my hair in the office I will be happy!