Sally Gardner is a famous dyslexic author. Her teachers labelled her “unteachable”, an educational psychologist told her parents she was “word blind.” But when she was fourteen, something “clicked” and Gardner suddenly began devouring books. Now, a very successful British writer and illustrator, she has authored thirty books and won various awards for her work.
In a recent article about her in the British newspaper, The Guardian, Gardner wrote, “At school I was the outsider, the odd one, the word-blind child who didn’t fit in. I lived in my head – a dreamer… a round peg in a square hole who was told I would be lucky to get any qualifications, let alone a job. My education was a comedy of errors… If it hadn’t been for my imagination and my ability to dream… I would have… probably ended up working in a supermarket, which would have been a disaster, because I was no better at maths than I was at reading.”
Gardner went on to say, “Dyslexia is not a disability – it’s a gift. It means that I, and many other dyslexic thinkers can portray the world through images because we think in images. I can build worlds, freeze the frame, walk around and touch. I can read people’s faces, drawings, buildings, landscapes and all things in the visual world more quickly than many of my non-dyslexic friends. I paint with words… Non-dyslexic people often challenge my dyslexia – they don’t believe I write my books, or they think I have a ghost writer. Many dyslexic people also look at me with doubt – how do I do it? A published author can’t possibly be severely dyslexic. Many of them have been made to think there’s no point in trying to be a writer, even if that’s what they passionately want to be. The key is not to listen to what they are told. If I had listened I wouldn’t have become a writer … After all, you can spell every word in the dictionary and know every grammatical rule in the world, but this does not make you a writer, nor does it give you an imagination; an imagination is something quite unique to every individual and it needs to be treasured.”