JEDDAH: Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Mohammed Ali, George Washington and Steve Jobs gave the world ideas and talents that made enormous contributions to humanity. They had something else in common – dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that primarily affects the skills associated with reading and spelling words accurately and fluently. It is characterized by difficulties in phonological perception, verbal memory, and verbal processing speed.
Despite these challenges, dyslexics have excellent thinking skills in the areas of conceptualization, reason, imagination, and abstraction. According to renowned speech pathologist and dyslexic Devon Barnes, most people with learning difficulties have at least average or above-average intelligence.
In 2016, Mohammad Bahareth gave a TEDx speech in Jeddah. He was on stage in front of 3,000 people and talked about his learning difficulties. One he had hidden all his life.
Despite his fear of public speaking, he did it anyway. “Speaking in front of 3,000 people and saying that I have a disability called dyslexia that no one knew about before was a very liberating experience,” he told Arab News.
Bahareth (@mbahareth) is a bestselling author and dyslexia advocate. Born and raised in Jeddah, he is an accomplished entrepreneur and startup consultant.
He is known in the kingdom for his dyslexia public awareness initiatives to help others like him.
There was a book in Arabic about all of the techniques and tools he used or attempted over the years to overcome and deal with the daily problems associated with dyslexia.
He gave lectures and television interviews to raise awareness and started dyslexia to help Arabic speakers better understand the condition. He worked with international and local foundations, professionals and parents.
Bahareth is working to make trusted information and tools available on its website to help dyslexics improve their quality of life.
He wants to provide a better world for dyslexics by spreading public awareness, eliminating misunderstandings, and calling on government agencies to ensure that people with dyslexia receive their rights.
One of the main reasons for this willingness to change something is his personal experience and the challenges he faced. There was a lack of support and recognition by the authorities for dyslexia as a disability.
“We are unable to obtain legal and proper records on disabilities from the Department of Human Resources and Social Development, the government agency responsible for issuing these documents,” he said.
The condition has usually been underestimated as a disability due to the lack of a physical aspect, leading to allegations that it was seeking sympathy.
But public pity and compassion is not what Bahareth wants. His ultimate goal is to create a professional association in Saudi Arabia that can adequately diagnose and support dyslexics.
Everyone’s condition was different, said Bahareth. Some people were able to cope with it, while others like him had severe symptoms such as involuntary compulsions and organ dysfunction due to the instability of electricity between the two hemispheres of the brain.
The brain functions differently in dyslexic people, so there needs to be better understanding in their educational and work environment in order to improve and support their performance, as well as enable them to develop their strengths.
“A person with dyslexia can be 300 percent more productive if you know how to manage it properly. People with dyslexia usually use one side of the brain more than the other, so they are primarily creative and not suitable for administrative work. Imagine what people with dyslexia can do when given the support they need. We spent about 600 times the effort it takes to function like normal people. “
The condition is viewed as neurobiological and genetic, which means it is passed down in the genes and can run in families.
Bahareth was certain that there were more dyslexics in Saudi Arabia than in many other countries in the world.
“We have a high marriage rate among relatives, so this would result in a higher percentage than in other countries.”
Dyslexia is absent from official statistics and reports on learning disabilities and other disabilities because it is not yet officially recognized as such.
He urged authorities to create an integrated support system for dyslexic people, starting with disability recognition, to ensure they receive the right support, proper treatment in educational institutions and in the workplace, and legal and health protection in public places.
He was disappointed with the current awareness of dyslexia.
“We will raise awareness that every parent knows how to deal with this disability and work with the best tools, equipment and techniques known to mankind.”
I will do my best to achieve this goal in my life and make sure it continues after I die. “
In Saudi Arabia, the law on caring for people with disabilities has developed further in recent years. It guarantees that people with disabilities receive suitable employment opportunities and education and can ensure their independence and integration into society.
But Bahareth said people with dyslexia are still waiting for authorities to listen to their demands and needs.
“The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has not classified dyslexia as a disability, which is counterproductive and blocks all legal rights for people with dyslexia.”
This lack of recognition prevents dyslexics from receiving special discounts and priorities under certain conditions, as well as insurance and support for special tools and utilities, assistance at airports, police stations, courts and other locations.
“Nobody knows what we need to function or how we can support each other. Many doctors here are confused about this. Some classify it under the obsolete department of psychology. It should be organized as it should be with neurologists, like any other country realizing it is a neurological condition, and with the assistance of language specialists if necessary. “
Bahareth thanked the Saudi Food and Drug Administration for selling dyslexia medicines in the kingdom. “Your answer was quick and diligent. This has helped me and many others, and I hope that support for all people with dyslexia will increase. “
Despite his many books in various fields and busy career, Barareth is usually associated with dyslexia. But this association is not a problem for him.
“I am proud to be a dyslexia attorney in Saudi Arabia. Within a few years, every dyslexic in Saudi Arabia will be proud to have it. I know in my heart that people with dyslexia will give back to their country more than anyone else. The next Saudi Einstein will be born with dyslexia and he could be a kid today, but I hope I will be the person who will lead him to change the world. “
Comments are closed.