Recently, renowned and highly creative director Steve Spielberg opened up about his personal battle with dyslexia. The cultural icon admitted that he had only been diagnosed about five years ago but that he had been using his passion of filmmaking his entire life as a channel to help him cope with his undiagnosed disability.
Dyslexia actually affects up to 17% of Americans and is a common signifier of a gifted child as studies have shown that the average IQ of a child with dyslexia is higher than that of the regular population. Brock and Fernette Eide, Developmental Pediatricians, and authors of The Dyslexic Advantage, have coined the term "Stealth Dyslexia" to describe the situation when bright or gifted individuals compensate for their weaknesses and score "average", thus seeming to read, write, and spell "fine." It is considered to be stealth because it flies under the radar and most kids are not tested for their cognitive potential so this discrepancy between their ability and performance gets missed or overlooked. Many people with dyslexia never even know they have it, much like Spielberg, until prompted later in life to get to the root of the problem.
Contrary to popular belief, dyslexia is not solely associated with spelling or reading issues — those are only two small parts of the overall problem revolving around struggles with motor planning and coordination, organizations, sequencing, orientation and relation to time, oral language, and focus and attention.
Another reason dyslexia remains so underreported is that there are so many symptoms that can be attributed to other things so it often doesn’t get recognized: things like spelling mistakes, sloppy handwriting, trouble reading, laziness or lack of academic motivation.
If you or your child has any of these symptoms, you may want to consider scheduling an evaluation to better understand the problem and consider treatment. A clear diagnosis of dyslexia can go a long way towards easing what may be a lifelong struggle with mental, social, and physical difficulties for both children and adults.
Dr. Dan Peters, Ph.D., is co-founder of the Summit Center (http://summitcenter.us/), which provides psychological and educational assessments and counseling for children and adolescents, specializing in the gifted, creative, and twice-exceptional.