In this paper, I propose that dyslexia and neurodiversity play an important role in influencing the well-being of many staff and students within art and design schools, as discussed in my PhD, titled Visualising the Invisible: An investigation into dyslexia and absence through visual art practice. My research and presentation will shed light on the interrelated nature of dyslexia and creative practice.
There are no recent quantitative studies into how many art and design students may be dyslexic and given the lack of evidence there is limited awareness of dyslexia in many art and design schools, hence the pertinence of my research. West (2009, 2017), Alexander-Passe (2010), Eide and Eide (1999, 2023) agree that there are significant overlaps between dyslexic and artistic attributes which includes analytical thinking, innovation, and creativity. This would then lead to the hypothesis that there are increase proportion of dyslexics in the creative industries (Phillips, 2022). I will discuss the preliminary analysis of my survey of artists and designers who identify with dyslexic traits, as well as speak from my lived experience of dyslexia and how it informs my practiced led research.
Adult dyslexics can be categorised into three groups: those who have disclosed their dyslexia, those who have not disclosed for fear of the associated stigma, and those who do not know that they may be dyslexic (Wissell, 2023). Staff and students not disclosing or knowing that they may be dyslexic may result in them not receiving the support needed for the individual to thrive or survive and the ramification may be decreased wellbeing or burnout (Alexander-Passe, 2015, Wissell, 2023).
This paper will question why there is an absence of discourse within art, dyslexia, and Australia (Phillips, 2022, Percy, 2023) and whether art and design students and staff are disclosing their dyslexia, and if not, why not? Is there a toll on well-being for not disclosing dyslexia? I will draw from my practice led research to argue that building awareness and creating safe spaces for disclosure will increase well-being and retention for both staff and students.
Alexander-Passe, N. Dyslexia and Creativity Investigations From Differing Perspectives, 2010, Nova Science Pub Inc
Alexander-Passe, N. Dyslexia and Mental Health, 2015, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Eide, B. and Eide, F. Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain, 1999, Plume, revised 2023
Percy, K. The Art of Invisibility. Why dyslexia is invisible in art discourse in Australia. International Journal of Practice Based Humanities, 2022 (pending publication)
Phillips, B. E. Some Struggles Are Invisible: Art, Neurodiversity, and Aotearoa, Artlink, Spring 2022
West, T. G. Seeing What Others Cannot See: The Hidden Advantages Of Visual Thinkers And Differently Wired Brains, 2017, Prometheus
West, T.G. In the Mind’s Eye: Creative Visual Thinkers, Gifted Dyslexics And The Rise Of Visual Technologies, 2009, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Wissell, S. Re:Think Dyslexia, Resource, 2023 (pending publication)
Wissell, S. et al. You Don’t Look Dyslexic: Using the Job Demands Resource Model of Burnout to Explore Employment Experiences of Australian Adults with Dyslexia, 2022, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health