At the age of 7, I was diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disability. I have very vivid memories about that rather difficult and confusing time in my life. Every Saturday, after my morning cartoons, I would visit an expert who would work with me on my writing skills. I spent endless school-nights with my mother and my father, working on multiplication tables that I seemed unable to comprehend or even memorize. Math class was anxiety inducing, and whenever it was time for a dictation, it took all of the self-control my seven-year-old self could muster to avoid bursting into tears. Luckily, I have wonderful parents who helped me get through that period in my life by encouraging me not only to read but to love to read. They taught me to work hard for what I want and I got through it, unlike most of my dyslexic peers.
A few weeks ago, I came across an interview with Author Brock Eide, who recently published a book called “The dyslexic advantage”. In this interview, he talks about the common misconception that dyslexic brains only differ from other brains in the way printed symbols are processed. In truth, dyslexics demonstrate a completely different pattern in the way that they process all information, no matter the medium. Dr. Eide says that, unlike what most specialists will tell you, this is an advantage:
“Many dyslexics work in highly interdisciplinary fields or fields that require combining perspectives and techniques gained from different disciplines or backgrounds. Or they’re multiple specialists, or their work history is unusually varied. Often these individuals draw the comment that they can see connections that other people haven’t seen before.” – Author Brock Eide, Wired interview, Sept 20th, 2011.
I have yet to read this book, but I am sure it will be an interesting read when I do.
The reason I am mention this interview is that I came across an interesting article in Scientific American today that talks about the new font a Dutch researcher has created to help dyslexics avoid the problems they often face when reading. It is called “Dyslexie” and it has allowed participants in the researcher’s study to read with greater accuracy and for longer periods of time. The creator states that the secret to this font is twofold: The letters are weighted down at their base, making them harder to flip in the brain, and certain letters are slanted, making them harder to mistake for other letters. Here is a sample of the font:
You can also view the article in the dyslexie font here.
Although I’ve learned to cope with my disability, I hope that this new font will help the many brilliant students plagued with dyslexia get past this early setback.
More science links
1. This week, my “Scientifically Inclined” article was featured on the front page of the Ontarion. I wrote about Canadian scientists who have partially sequenced the Cannabis plant’s genome, helping us understand the difference between hemp and marijuana, which both come from Cannabis sativa.
2. Male Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) help each other find a mate, exhibiting a clear example of the prisoner’s dilemma. In this scenario, it is much more profitable for them to work together, forming a long-term coalition, than it is for a male dolphin to work alone or, worse yet, for a male dolphin to accept help and then steal the helper’s mate causing any subsequent plea for help to be refused.
3. Contrary to popular belief, some women, like many men, experience climax too early, often leading to dysfunction within their relationships. This is the female premature orgasm.
4. A Harvard scientist has invented the caffeine inhaler, which is being touted as a calorie-free, coffee breath-free way to get your morning jolt. I must admit that this makes me rather nervous. The inevitability of students attempting to get through all-night cram sessions using this device is the least of my worries.
Science Video of the week