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Dyslexic Differences

Dyslexia is often associated with the challenges that it brings to those of all ages in the areas of reading, spelling, writing, and other academic obstacles. However, there are also many gifts that people with dyslexia share as a result of their different brain organization. It is vital to be informed of both the strengths and weaknesses of the dyslexic mind so that students can foster growth in all areas as they try to reach their full potential.

3D, spatial reasoning as dyslexic strength

This strength is found in the physical world. It allows the student to understand size, shape, and position of objects as well as the way in which such objects interact.


  • Real world spatial ability - 3 dimensional thinking

  • Drawing

  • Mechanical Puzzles

  • Building

  • Strong imagery system

  • Ability to mentally manipulate objects

Trade Offs:

  • Difficulty suppressing the generation of mirror images

  • Trouble with procedural learning and activities

  • Difficulty with verbal output - challenging to think in words

  • Gaps between conceptual ability and ability to put that understanding into words

  • Mental imagery gets in the way of working memory

Dyslexic brain is strong at top down thinking - interdisciplinary thinking

Interconnected Reasoning allows the student to identify connections between different objects, concepts, and points of view.


  • Links person’s knowledge into a single, working matrix

  • Approaches topics from different levels and perspectives in order to see things in a new light or larger context

  • Ability to reason using a top down approach - starting with the end goal or product

  • Skilled at detecting similarities

  • Unusual and creative answers to problems

  • Interdisciplinary thinking

  • Ability to see the whole or gist - getting to the core meaning rather than the fine detail

Trade Offs:

  • Difficulty with tasks that require speed, accuracy, and precision - standardized tests

  • Tendency to confuse or substitute related items

  • Creative distractions invade resources for working memory

  • Difficulty weeding out distractions

  • Trouble with organization and filing - can think of many ways to file same papers

  • Difficulty with fine details

Dyslexic brain allows the use of personal memory to understand, envision, and create. Convert absrtact ideas into scenes, examples, and illustrations.

Narrative Reasoning allows the student to rely on personal experience and background knowledge in order to recall the past, explain the present, or simulate the future in order to grasp and test important information.


  • Uses personal memory to recall and put things into context

  • Allows the ability to understand or envision future outcomes

  • Ability to imagine inventions or events that have not yet occurred

  • Skilled at creating narratives that can persuade and enlighten

  • Memories are used creatively as end result is something that has never been experienced

  • Ability to convert abstract thought into examples, scenes, and illustrations

  • Increased skill at spotting unusual connections - pattern separation

Trade Offs:

  • Weakness in procedural memory

  • Difficulty remembering facts

  • Trouble getting to the point because abstract ideas are conveyed through stories, scenes, or illustrations

Dynamic reasoning allows dyslexics the ability to construct mental images by combining the past and present to create a solution.

Dynamic Reasoning provides the skill to imagine or predict how images or environments might change in relation to processes whose parts are not completely known in order to make a best case fit or working hypothesis.


  • Ability to construct mental images by combining the past and present to create solutions that have never been seen

  • Skilled at evaluating possible solutions and predicting the outcome of varying actions

  • Relaxed thinking allows for eureka type moments

Trade Offs:

  • Reduced speed and efficiency

  • Backwards processing - answers come first (difficult in school setting)

  • Seems off task, not focused - must relax into the work at hand

  • Often daydreams - huge connection between imagination and insight

  • Deepest engagement, requires disengagement

  • Difficulty applying step by step problem solving

Not every person with dyslexia has every advantage listed above. All learners have differing strengths and weaknesses; these are most common among the dyslexic population. Without the proper support and growth mindset, it is difficult to harness these dyslexic gifts.


The Dyslexic Advantage:  Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain by Brock L. Eide & Fernette F. Eide


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