Dyslexics Of the World Untie!

  western tanager, ©2007 John Muir Laws, used with permission

On Sunday, the Washington Post published a fascinating article about John Muir Laws, the author and illustrator of a new field guide to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  The book itself has gotten rave reviews and the illustrations, one of which is reproduced here, are certainly beautiful.

The reason I wanted to write about Laws' book, however, is that the Washington Post article reveals that Laws is not only an impressive naturalist but dyslexic to boot.  I'm always interested to read articles about dyslexia or how dyslexics have coped with their disability because I'm dyslexic myself.  Although no longer suffer from the severe symptoms that Laws apparently still does, many things that most people take for granted: thing like spelling (as readers of this blog no doubt have noticed), grammar, and even basic math (I'm talking addition and subtraction here), are a continual challenge. 

But like Laws, "If I had the option, I don't think I would cure it."  And while I've never come up with anything as innovative as organizing a field guide by color, like him I too firmly believe that dyslexia, whether because of the different architecture of my brain or the effort to compensate for it, has profoundly influenced how I think about the world.  I doubt very much that I would be who I am, or have whatever skills as an advocate that I posses, if it wasn't for dyslexia.  Yet blogging poses particular challenges.  Here, the publication of written product is much more immediate than I am accustomed to and, even with a spell-check, the ability to rigorously proof a document doesn't exist.  So to all of you who have noticed a "weather" that should have been "whether" or an "affect" that should have been "effect" or a misplaced apostrophe (I hate those dammed things), you'll have to bear with me.

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Andrew Wetzler

Deputy Chief Program Officer

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