“The Dyslexic Advantage” is a book written by Brock L. Eide and Fernette L. Eide who are both doctors assisting people with learning disabilities including dyslexia. The audiobook edition is well narrated by Paul Costanzo, who at the time of this review has over sixty other books available through Audible. With nearly one-in-five (~20%) people having some form of learning difficulty, dyslexia is one of the most commonly diagnosed and often misunderstood. Because of the high number of people with dyslexia, you can be guaranteed either you have dyslexia or you know someone who does; family, friend, co-workers, etc. What is important about this book, unlike many others on the subject, it does not focus on the disadvantages of those with dyslexia, but instead it presents its advantages. That is why it is titled The Dyslexic Advantage.
Even though the book was reprinted in 2012 and the audiobook released in 2011, I found the research and examples provide relevant event today; five years later. The only thing I felt the book lacked was some detail involving recent research around dyslexia and genetic findings. In recent years, some newer research has shown there may be a genetic tie or component which in the near future may be able to more easily be diagnosed than the how it is done today. The book is very powerful and eye opening for anyone interested in the subject of dyslexia, I highly recommend it.
Let me say up front that I am an adult who grew up with mild dyslexia and never knew it. I was often called the class clown or the kid that could not read aloud when asked by my teachers. My way of hiding or compensating for this difficulty was to make it into a joke or have an excuse ready; I know many of you have been in this same position. The things that often came easy for most of my classmates I found extremely difficult such as: math, writing, reading, auditory, etc. However, there were things I discovered that were often easy for me such as navigation (pre-GPS days) that often were more difficult for others without dyslexia. It was not until late in my life that I receive confirmation of being dyslexic and at that time the lights went on in my head as I looked back at my school and work life difficulties. So much of what is also covered in this book helped solidify my previous diagnoses which I often wanted to suppress from others. You can see, this book is a bit more difficult and personal for me to review because it is a topic that hits home in many ways.
The overall premise of this book is to give the person with dyslexia or the parent of a dyslexic child an understanding of the way a dyslexic person processes information with is simply different from the rest of the world. It is not wrong, simply different. There may be challenges with spelling, grammar, and reading; however, there are other areas of strengths (or advantages) such a creativity, special awareness, etc. where the dyslexic person shines. The book suggests ways of compensating for one’s weaknesses while at the same time thriving on the many advantages found in those with dyslexia. The book was very uplifting and encouraging as many of us who have been diagnosed have been told over and over that we were slow, stupid, lazy, or people would wonder how we could have mess up a simple thing being very intelligent in other areas of our lives. People often see one’s strengths and intelligence due to the advantages of a dyslexic’s different processing and reasoning, but that does not mean the same person is strong in all areas. The book mentions finding ways to assist your weaknesses, and I found for myself that technology was a great compensator. Word processing aides me in spelling and grammar, calculators or Excel assist me with mathematics, and just being able to write and print something to the printer that is legible for others to read it amazing in and of itself.
The book opens by defining what dyslexia is and what it is not, its advantages and its disadvantages. It progresses into the various thought patterns and ways a dyslexic person sees the world and often how the rest of the world perceives us. These advantages of the dyslexic found in the author’s years of research (along with other research) is the core of what this book is about. Leverage your strengths while working on the areas of weakness, you need to know them both. In later chapters the book gives suggestions and assistance for nearly every level or age where dyslexic people struggle: preschool through High school, college years, and then in the workforce as an adult. Each of these phases in one’s life is affected by dyslexia. One of the major takeaways I got from the more adult/job chapter was that dyslexic people often find and select positions that are more creative or have a level of flexibility than those that are highly rigid and structured or process dependent. Jobs that are more atypical from the normal 9-5 job can be more difficult for the dyslexic person. Jobs such as these are becoming more and more available for people in specific industries. I often found myself gravitating to these areas as others affirmed I was strong in them. There is also a section debating the question of notifying your employer of your dyslexia.
I liked that the author focused on how today’s technology such as audiobooks (like the one I’m now reviewing) has opened a whole new world for those who previously or still have difficulty reading. So many books are now available in audio format there is no longer an excuse to keep yourself from learning via books. I also discovered, as the author points out, that I can often listen to audiobooks at a much faster speed than I could ever read them; and many in my family cannot understand how I can comprehend them, but I do. Digital books often have a means of reading them out loud or other tools that will speak sentences with a simple swipe.
Regarding the book’s narration, Paul Costanzo does an exceptional job reading material which could be boring or more technical than a standard piece of action fiction. Because this was not a piece of fiction, but more an educational book, it is hard to speak to the areas people often wonder with audiobooks such a how the narrator handled different characters’ voices, etc. The audio quality is professional and there were no noticeable audio artifacts detected while listening to the book. The pacing of the book was a bit slower than I found prefer, but is can be easily modified by the application used to listen to the book.
I could continue to write pages on the different M, D, I, N, and other strengths discussed in the book, but I will leave these to be discovered by the reader. If you are interested in the subject or simply want to be educated on the subject for whatever reason, The Dyslexic Advantage is a great book. The book is rather current, and I’m sure it will continue to be updated and revised as more information is known about this disorder.