Regular readers of my blog will already know that my son and I are both dyslexic, it runs in my family and is well know to coexist with autism, they are both neurofunctioning differences.
Like autism dyslexia affects different people in different ways but common traits and threads run through. In he same way as I have heard autistic people say that the hardest time was before they realised/were diagnosed, it is similar being an undiagnosed dyslexic, what I mean is you are always hiding and compensating for the differences in the way you function in certain areas.
When I was a child I loved to write and I loved to learn. Every week I would take home the twenty spellings we had to learn by the following Friday. Every week I was self motivated enough to practice them for hours, every week I would think this would be he week I would get more than 5 right. Every week I was punished for not practicing my spellings as I never managed more than the 5. This damaged my self esteem enormously and set in motion a feeling that I would not be believed, I lost trust in authority and from then on relied on myself.
I wanted different for my son
When my son started school I knew within the first few weeks he was dyslexic and I wanted things to be different for him, for him to be understood and supported from an early age however I was told by his school that they didn’t test for dyslexia until a child was 7.
This seemed like a ridiculous rule to me and I explained to them that if he had to keep struggling he it would damage his self esteem, they would not budge. By 7 he was two years behind his peers and finally given the dyslexia test showing he was moderately dyslexic, had slow processing and an IQ in excess of 140. His self esteem was rock bottom, thankfully he is now thriving in home education.
Just another example of the often abortory org rules and protocols present in our education system that harm children.
Some of the strong and weak areas I have due to dyslexia are;
- Sight reading instead of breaking words down into phonics. To write I have to picture the word in my mind and copy the shape, sometimes the wrong version of the word comes out on the paper or screen like just then when I wrote right instead of write, I don’t recognise it as the wrong word until I see it written for some reason.
- I often miss words out when writing or use completely the wrong word. I and a are the two I most regularly interchange.
- Finding it hard to remember peoples names.
- Forgetting things or losing them and being disorganised in some areas.
- Being clumsy. Often more associated with dyspraxia, poor body awareness also affects many dyslexics and I feel it is hard to know where one starts and the other finishes.
- Poor sense of direction
- Excellent overview of situations. Most people seem to see a situation and work out from the source for me I see the whole picture and have to home in on the details. It means I can be good at managing team projects but sometimes miss the finer points of things.
- I am good at seeing things from different view points.
- I can read really fast but I sometimes miss chunks of text or miss read the emphasis.
- I am highly creative and have my own way of doing things.
- I am good at finding original solutions to problems.
- I hate reading out loud.
- Confusion over left and right particularly when tired or stressed.
- Difficulty filling in forms. Both reading the questions correctly and completing the answers without missing parts out or putting them in the wrong box.
- Terrible at scrabble (but I am getting better)!
Some of the other well known difficulties associated with dyslexia are:
- Difficulties with writing and or reading and maths. Extra difficulties with maths is sometimes known as dyscalcular.
- Problems with organisation and memory.
- Problems with coordination and the physical process of writing.
- Words jumping around the page when reading. Missing lines of text.
- Processing problems and taking in, remembering or following instructions.
- Difficulties with maps, timetables or charts.
- Easily distracted
- Difficulty writing or keeping writing in straight lines.
- Problems reading analogue clocks.
Teaching methods and Dyslexia
There are many teaching methods, tools and other help available now for dyslexic students and with modern tech writing longhand is not as necessary as it once was. Having a simplified or even illustrated printed lesson plan available to the student will help to reassure them they are doing the right thing and allow them to take each step at a time, particularly useful for students who’s dyslexia significantly affect their processing speed.
Allowing students to express themselves through what ever means without being too hung up on spellings or the method used to record their learning really helps build self esteem and keep interest. There is nothing more soul destroying for a bright student than to be held back because of reading and spelling when they are capable of really flying in other areas.
Supporting dyslexic children to participate to a level suitable for their intellect and keeping them interested will motivate them more, in my view, to over come their difficulties than being forced to write out spellings or missing enjoyed lessons for extra literacy.
How I feel about being dyslexic now..
For all it’s problems I wouldn’t want to take away my dyslexia as it makes me who I am and gives me a very individual outlook and approach to things. What I would change if I had the power though would be better screening, earlier diagnoses and more flexible support in schools and more knowledge and understanding of it in workplaces.