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Health: Rich, famous, confident and ... DYSLEXIC; Q: Who wants to be a millionaire? A. Dynamic people B: Daring people C Dyslexic people D: Determined people (The answer is C dyslexic people).

Byline: CAROLINE WHEELER

WHAT do selfmademillionaires Richard Branson, former Tory cabinet member Michael Heseltine and Body Shop founder Anita Roddick all have in common?

They're all rich, of course. They're all famous. They all appear supercool and confident.

And they're all dyslexic. In fact, according to a report last week, the majority of self-made millionaires in the UK did badly at school and suffered from the debilitating learning disorder.

Now experts claim that the condition could actually HELP people to become millionaires.

And Midland expert Julia Smith is this week opening a cutting-edge centre to help dyslexics to realise their true potential.

She says it's a common misunderstanding that people who suffer from the condition aren't too bright.

'This is simply not the case,' says Julia, who runs the new West Midlands' Indirect Learning -I(D)L -Centre from her home in Smethwick.

'Most people who suffer from the condition may not be so good at spelling or reading but excel in most other areas, particularly in their creative zone.'

It is thought that sufferers tend not to be good at detail but are excellent when it comes to grasping the bigger picture and can often produce original ideas.

They may also strive to achieve more because they feel left out -which explains why so many go on to become millionaires.

The I(D)L approach helps dyslexics to learn through their sense of touch, sight, hearing and speech rather than reading and writing.

Julia, 36, says: 'Research in neurology and psychology has shown that many different sense systems are used in learning. Some will be more effective than others and may lead to learning preferences.

'Just because an individual has difficulty with reading or spelling doesn't mean they won't excel in other more creative areas. 'This system helps them to tap into their creative energy while helping them to improve their literacy skills.'

It's thought that dyslexics generally enjoy additional skills such as a highly developed visual memory and exceptional abilities in creative and lateral thinking skills.

The centre is the first in the Midlands to use the I(D)L approach, which involves a talking computer.

'The beauty of the system is that there's no competition involved so pupils never feel humiliated or embarrassed,' says Julia.

'It's not all lessons, lessons, lessons, either. At the end of the session we play games that are designed to be fun but also help stimulate learning.'

Julia believes that up to one in 10 adults in the West Midlands suffers from dyslexia.

'One of the first things people need to realise is that dyslexia is not something that just affects kids,' she says.

'Many people suffer from dyslexia but don't seek help until much later on in life. The age of people on my books varies from seven to 67.

'Often if dyslexia isn't picked up as a child, it can be very difficult and daunting for adults to get assistance.

'I think it's very brave of people to make a decision at a later stage in life that perhaps something has never been quite right and they want to do something about it.'

The I(D)L system is available to people without referral from an educational psychologist.

It involves an hour-long assessment to diagnose the patient, which costs pounds 25 and is normally followed by twice-weekly lessons, costing pounds 16. To find out more, call 0121 420 3779.

Q What is dyslexia? A Dyslexia is a Greek word meaning difficulty with words or language. The modern definition is 'a difficulty in learning to read and write, particularly in learning to spell correctly and expressing thoughts on paper'. Q IS dyslexia related to intelligence?

A Dyslexia is NOT a result of low intelligence. A child with an IQ as high as 150 may still have difficulty acquiring written language skills. In fact, the most distinctive feature of dyslexia is that a person's reading and writing skills do not measure up to his or her general intellectual ability.

Q Who is affected by dyslexia? A Approximately 10 per cent of the adult population in the West Midlands. For every one woman there are four men who are affected.

Q Is there a cure? A No, because dyslexia is not an illness -it's a life-long condition. But with appropriate help dyslexics can overcome their difficulties.

CAPTION(S):

EXPERT... Julia Smith; FAMOUS DYSLEXICS... Anthea Turner, Richard Branson, Michael Heseltine and Anita Roddick
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 12, 2003
Words:739
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