Soon after relocating his assessment center to the U.S. City of Annapolis. Dr Michael Hart noticed a strange occurrence during family interviews. When parents routinely exhibited a strange reaction to certain questions, Dr Hart realised he’d uncovered a secret about Annapolis, that he really wasn’t meant to know.

Words by Dr. Michael Hart

In the mid to late 1990’s I had a thriving practice evaluating and diagnosing a wide range of learning issues for kids and adults.  I had learned early on in my training that collecting as much information as possible from BOTH parents was critical to truly understanding who these young people were as…people…and not just a set of test scores.  So I made it really clear in the intake process that both parents needed to attend the initial interview.

But something strange although ultimately wonderful started happening during my meetings with mom and dad.  It went like this:

Me:  So, what do you do for a living?

Parent:  I work for the government.

Me:  Yeah, yeah, right…So what do you actually do for a living?

Parent:  I work for the government.  

Stone-faced, resolute response.

Hmmm, what’s the deal here?.  It took me a few family interviews to figure it out and then the light came on.

Annapolis, Maryland is a bedroom community outside of Washington, DC.  Of course DC is the home to the FBI, Secret Service, CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA) among other shadow agencies we don’t even know about…Guess where all these folks live?  Specifically with the NSA, employees are not allowed to tell anyone where they actually work.  Hence the stonewalling which was really just a reaction to my cluelessness!

But here’s the real story.  I was getting a LOT of referrals for families that did not share where they were employed! Why was that?

Of course, as we now know, dyslexics and people with other learning issues think differently!  And more importantly, they approach problems in atypical and oftentimes unique ways.  The NSA is all about finding unique solutions to huge, hoary global problems buried in massive volumes of data.  They HIGHLY VALUE dyslexics as employees because they possess special cognitive abilities!  Dyslexics, by and large, see things differently which is enormously valuable to security agencies.


I can’t confirm this but I’ve heard that up to 50% of people who work at the NSA are neurodiverse…It’s certainly not something that the NSA would publicize but it makes sense.

Often for many years–due to a lack of understanding about how they learn and how they need to be taught many of our dyslexic kids suffer at school. Often my NSA parents had suffered through school as well…but they ultimately found themselves being highly valued for their brains as adults.

Just another example of the fact that, although the dyslexic mind can cause us trouble and strife. There are ultimately places where our unique way of processing the world around us is a truly valuable asset.

You May Also Like: Podcast Episode 35 – GCHQ’s Dyslexic Code Breakers Review All

dr-michael-hart-smallMichael Hart, Ph.D. is a child psychologist with 25 years of experience in parent and teacher training, educational technology, learning differences and diagnostic assessment of dyslexia and attention problems. Dr. Hart is intensely focused on supporting parents and teachers as they become better informed and more experienced in the effective treatment of our dyslexic students.

This post was based on an article first published on

If you like this post subscribe to this blog, join our newsletter or follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date with new content. You might also like our podcasts.

The Codpast is a multimedia production from