Dear Young Dyslexic,

In my last two Letters, I've suggested some of the coping strategies we dyslexics had to develop in school and how they work against us when we become adults. Today I'd like to discuss what we can do about them. All of us can change! Here are four principles that have helped me:

  • Get help It is almost impossible to do it on your own. Find a therapist or life coach that understands dyslexia or ADD. Not someone who is harsh or critical, but someone who can give you a gentle, encouraging push. Few people really want to change. We need that push.
  • Fake it until you make it Pretend you know what you are doing even if you feel completely incompetent. The good news is that these feelings are not real. You are probably far more competent than you realize. As you practice faking it and succeed, the confidence will come.
  • Set reasonable goals Look realistically at where you are now and set a goal just a little above your present performance. If you keep improving, you’ll get to where you want to go. Also, make sure you recognize when you have achieved a goal. You may have to ask someone you trust to help you with this.
  • Brag I know this sounds insane, but it’s a very important skill. Brag to people about your successes and the courage it took to fail. It will feel very awkward and embarrassing at first, but it gets easier as you practice.

One of my favorite sayings is: “Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone." It is true. When you put yourself out there, not only do you gain confidence but also you are truly alive, fear and all. However, know that you will have some failures. Give yourself credit for trying. It takes great courage to risk it. Furthermore, you will learn that failing is not so bad. You learn what you can from your failure; pick yourself up and try again.

Be well and make a bit of noise,

Dr. Michael Ryan

Dr. Michael Ryan