Gaines Group Architects
charles hendricks

I don’t have a learning disability, I have a creativity advantage!

This post is a little different from my normal about building science and architecture, this one is personal. The idea of posting about my challenge has been formulating for a long time and I felt it was time to share to help others facing the same challenge.


I often feel like a square peg in a round hole. The world seems to move in a pattern different than I think it should or that makes sense to me. I struggled in elementary, middle, and high school and was told by a teacher once that I should find a good job after high school. In other words, “you will never go to college.”

I have Dyslexia. It was called a learning disability when I was younger, but it probably has a more politically correct label these days. Basically, it is a difficulty learning to read, spell, and at times comprehend language both written and spoken. What I notice most is some things come out of my mouth in reverse (no not all things, sometimes I just say the wrong thing). Sometimes I hear something one way, but actually comprehend it in reverse. In other words, my brain gets confused and words get jumbled. What I have realized through coping with this challenge is I don’t have a learning disability, I have a creativity advantage!

Charleston South Carolina Iron Work

I don’t know how or why it happened that my brain works different, but I think it is cool to be this way. I expect your brain is pretty cool as well. In my case, I learned to take visual cues from people when they are talking and to tie meaning into groups of written words. I rely on both the creative and analytic portions of my brain to understand the world. This has led to what I think is the perfect career for me. A career that works best if you can tie the analytic with the creative to solve a design opportunity in a visual manner.

I didn’t like being labeled as different when I was younger. Now I want to be known for my creative abilities (kind of what my career is built on). I love being able to see solutions clearly that are not obvious to others. I love that my brain is able to balance the creative and analytic in a way that is not typical with everyone.

So for any of you that have a label – whether you want it or not – embrace your challenge, celebrate it even. The challenges we face in our lives make us unique. So when you are talking to someone else, understand that they have not had the same experiences as you and do not see the world the same way as you. Know that we all face challenges day to day – perhaps a little patience and compassion is deserved even if I am grumpy that day.