Understanding Your Dyslexic Friend/Child/Spouse/Student
On February 28th I attended a screening of an outstanding documentary called The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia. (poster at right) The Rawson Saunders School in Austin hosted the screening along with the panel discussion that followed. I highly recommend this film to anyone who is dyslexic or anyone with a loved one with dyslexia and to all educators.
It is no secret that I have dyslexia. I’ve written about it before in this blog. But after seeing the documentary, I was absolutely flabbergasted. Why? Because for me the effects of dyslexia reach so much farther than just my difficulties with writing, spelling and being a slow reader. Many other aspects of life are difficult for me, and until I saw this film, I never really connected them with being dyslexic.
It is estimated that 1 in 5 children have dyslexia. Most of them are never diagnosed. Many adults also struggle with it without knowing the reason for their difficulties. So I thought I would share some of my recent realizations about myself. Perhaps you may be struggling with similar things, or if you are a parent with a dyslexic child, reading my experiences might help you gain a deeper understanding of what your child may be going through.
Note: The symptoms and severity of dyslexia vary from person to person. Not all dyslexics have the same difficulties, although some symptoms of dyslexia – such as slow reading and difficulty writing – are universal.
Here are a few of my recent realizations:
- Students are often encouraged and sometimes required to take notes during a class or lecture. And that’s a great way to remember what the teacher discussed. But for me, there’s just one problem with this scenario: I can’t take notes—not good ones, that is. Why? Because I have to concentrate so hard on writing the notes that I can no longer hear the lecture and in a very short time I’m completely lost. So I generally have to take mental notes and if I do write something down it’s usually very brief, perhaps simply a word or two as a quick reminder.
- I’ve also been puzzled about why I can spell a simple word one day but not the next, and why I can’t follow/understand basic written assembly instructions but I can easily assemble just about anything from the illustrations. Dyslexia also explains why, when leaving an unfamiliar place without a clear focal point, I frequently go the wrong direction. These are just a few of the things I deal with that are all related to dyslexia.
- The documentary also reminded me that dyslexia never goes away. A dyslexic person just learns to compensate for it, which is why after all these years of daily practice I still read slowly and have to concentrate on what I’m reading to understand it clearly. Otherwise I’m just mouthing the words and not comprehending most of it.
Many that know me find it quite surprising that I’m an author. But to be perfectly honest, no one is more surprised about it than I am. It has been a long road getting to this point and one reason why I am able to write is because I now have tools and strategies that I use to help myself.
I’ll share some of these strategies in the coming weeks.