The following was written by Tiffany Sunday, a published author and dyslexic individual who reached out to us in June of 2014, eager to share her story.

In the fall of 2011, I wrote a blog post about dyslexia’s hidden gifts and shared with my readers that I was dyslexic. I remembered the mix of emotions as I clicked the “publish” button; part hesitation, a bit of fear combined with a feeling of liberation.

At the same time, I wondered what my followers would think and more importantly what my clients would think. The sense of relief was bigger than I anticipated; the burden of keeping the dyslexia a secret was gone.

Even today, after all the tribulations I’ve experienced, I would not trade being dyslexic. The creative energy, the ability to see patterns that others often miss and the capability to understand the complexities of big picture thinking are the gifts hidden within the dyslexic brain.

Many of the strategies I use today were developed in school.

White Boards

White boards are a must. Like Shawn, I am a visual learner and also use white boards to “think”. Shawn did a great job demonstrating how to use white boards for school. My son and I have a large 3' x 3' white board calendar in the hall. We write our weekly activities and appointments on the board. In my office, I have two white boards and three bulletin boards. Each board has a purpose and helps organize my brain.


Spelling creates the most difficulty as I phonetically cannot hear any sounds. I’ve been tested multiple times since grade school with the same results. Sometimes, I can spend 30 minutes or more hunting the correct spelling. What makes matters worse is that I can look at the word and still not determine if it’s the correct word.

As a result, I’ve become an obsessed spell checker and have more grammar books than most English teachers. I also use to help with grammar and spelling.

Another spelling trick I’ve learned is to use Google Search. I write a sentence in the Google Search box which contains the word I am seeking. For example, “I cannot prounate words.” Google corrects the spelling and then asks if I mean this word “pronunciate”. I’ve had more success with Google than Microsoft Word.

Even if Google has the correct spelling there are times when I am unsure if it is the correct word. It looks right; however, I use my dictionary app to listen to the pronunciation of the word.

I’ve discovered that keyboarding has helped improved my spelling. My brain has memorized word patterns and spelling has become a series of key stroke patterns not sounds.

Before computers, I compensated by memorizing every spelling word. Since I am unable to phonetically sound out words, I created unique sayings or tricks so I could memorize the pattern of letters associated with the word. The benefit of memorizing my spelling words is that I developed a photographic memory.

Test Taking

When taking a test, the first thing I did was scan the entire test to assess the material and then immediately answer all the questions I knew. Second, I would search the test for words that I needed to find in the blank or complete short answers. I turned the test into a tool to help me compensate and used every piece of information to my advantage.

To help “see” sequence or word questions, I would draw a picture. If I was unable to spell an answer I would draw the word or answer. Most of my teachers accepted the drawings or illustrations. In college, I asked my professors for permission to draw answers or discuss agreeable means for completing tests and class quizzes.

I worked hard to achieve good grades and to be considered a normal student by my teachers.

Maximize Your Strengths

I learned early to focus on my strengths. In 5th grade we had an open concept classroom where we were assigned learning centers. Each student had to complete their reading and spelling requirements first. I would pick easy books and memorize my spelling so I could work on the different centers which I loved doing.

The centers were my strength; the teacher penalized my efforts and did not believe I was dyslexic. I tweaked my strategy and kept on going. I was the only student to complete all 60 centers required during the year and received a small trophy. My determination was to prove to her and others that I was not dumb. I still have the trophy and it exemplifies why I do not give up.

At first reading was very hard for me and I was slow. A college professor suggested to my mother that she encourage me to read anything I found interesting. In fourth grade, I started reading simple books about history and biographies of famous people. I developed a love of reading and did not realize until high school that this was a critical point in my education.

I highly encourage reading or listening to books on tape. The knowledge gained is invaluable. Reading hundreds of biographies during school helped me excel in history. It is important to focus on your strengths as this provides confidence and a break when managing English or more difficult classes such as math and science.

Take typing! Every day, I am thankful that I took typing in high school because I key pad everything!

In college, I taped all my classes and would listen to the lectures over and over; this is how I rewrote my class notes and studied for tests. By finals, I had the majority of the class notes and my professors’ lectures memorized.

For taking class notes or work, draw diagrams and write key words on a note pad if you are unable to key pad. The iPad and Windows Surface are great writing and note-taking tools.

Delete Fear and Failure from Your Vocabulary

When I was a high school junior, I registered for Intro Spanish knowing that I would probably fail the class at some point during the school year. My parents disagreed with my decision and I assured them I understood the consequences. At the end of the first semester, I took a withdrawal failing.

Did the F I received in Spanish have any bearing on my life now? No.

Did the F prevent my acceptance into Texas A&M (BA) and later into SMU’s Graduate Business program (MBA)? No.

Registering for Spanish in high school has been one of my best decisions. I realized my internal strength which gave me the confidence to take risks without the fear of failure.

Thomas Edison understood what failure meant, that failure is the process of elimination. If A and B do not work together then how about A and C? If one combination does not work; stop, reassess the situation and if needed try a different path. By taking action each time you move forward until the right combination is discovered.

Learn to Be Your Own Advocate

When I was in grade school, the school did not have an established program for dyslexic students. It was not until my sophomore year in college that I received 504 accommodations.

I learned early to become my own advocate and understood that knowledge was a powerful asset. In college, I read the entire Disability Act to better understand my rights. The majority of my college professors (undergraduate and graduate) were helpful; only a handful of professors did not believe in dyslexia or providing assistance.

Ever since I was in junior high, I wanted to be a published author. When I mentioned my goal and dream, I was informed that dyslexic individuals were not authors and should find something else that did not involve writing or spelling.

Yet, my heart and soul did not listen to the naysayers; they held onto the dream.

My book, You Posted What!? How to Help Your Teen Use Social Media to Gain an Advantage for College and Future Employment was published in 2014 and I am currently working on several follow-up books.

Dyslexia offers us an amazing creative journey, if we are patient. We see the world differently, which gives us the ability to see pathways and hidden opportunities most people overlook.

Remember to hold steady to your dreams and find a way to harness the hidden talents of your dyslexic brain.