This week I had the pleasure of conversing with a great group of people online about how it feels to be dyslexic. This is such a great thing to talk about because we often hear clinical definitions about terms like dyslexia, but rarely do we experience the individual perspective.
When I first read the title of this discussion thread, I was nervous to express my opinion because I have more than one LD. Still, the only way for any of us to really dive into such an issue is for someone with the issue to share – eventually the bits and pieces will create some kind of picture.
In thinking about my experiences with my children and throughout my life, I began diving into this question. I explained to the group how individuals in my home had issues with the following (these are not all of the issues – its a baseline to help continue the conversation):
- Word recognition – We would practice a word all week, pass the test on Friday and though we knew what the word meant, we were unable to spell it by Monday.
- Word and letter reversals – Though there is discussion in the field as to weather this is a left-right issue or dyslexia or whatever. What this means to members in our house hold is that we typically start from the wrong end. Which means if I need to use a letter like b, d, q, or p, I might not know which one is B. It means we might start from the wrong end of the word when trying to sound it out or we might start from the wrong end of the sentence. For my son however, this meant he wrote backwards entirely for many years. One could hold his papers up to a mirror and read them. He is now in his teens and finds that this still happens from time to time.
- Direction – Only one of us can go to a location one time and find our way back. The rest of us must use directions, landmarks, and or symbols to get back to that location.
- Wrong Word Usage – It is common to hear the wrong word used for any particular item.
- Hand Signals – There is a lot of finger snapping, pointing, hand movements (jazz hands), and jabbing because the words will not come out and this forces us to improvise. It’s like a huge game of Pictionary – the image of what you desire to say is at the tip of your tongue and you just can’t get past it. It is not that we do not know the information, it is there and that is one of the most frustrating parts.
- Lists – Forgetting is common, so we attempt lists, but we often forget those lists if we sit them down.
- Vocabulary – We all have limited verbal vocabulary and often write using simple vocabulary, but we have a vast vocabulary in our heads that we struggle to utilize.
- Recall – We struggle to verbally recall – though we can often write what is missing since we developed the writing skills.
- Vocal Sounds – Grunting is also common in our house when we struggle to use our words.
- Clumsiness – At any given time one of us will hit a wall, fall down stairs, trip on nothing, fall out of a chair, or collide into one another.
- Headaches – Those of us with LD struggle with learning headaches, as I like to call them. This occurs from the strain that happens when you are trying to make sense of what you see.
- Difficulty reading the words on the page – there are many things associated with this one items, for now I will just say that it’s like the page and the words play tricks on you even though there is nothing wrong with your vision.
- Forgetfulness – We continually forget important details or how to follow through when writing things out. We may begin on a thought and never branch out to the other details. We might forget why those details are important or that we forgot those details at all.
- Mistaking – This is harder for me to describe today, but say I write a paper and I read it over in an attempt to edit. Because I know what I wanted to be there, I have actually read the paper via what is in my head and missed mistakes that were actually in the test.
What this tells you is the experience to some degree, but not specifically how we have felt. We have swung the pendulum from feeling “stupid” because we are dyslexics, to feeling “acceptance” because we cannot change this condition, to feeling “joy” because we have found something special about our selves as a result of dyslexia. There are days when I am proud to say I have dyslexia and days where I long to read/write/think without problems.
With these types of issues, how then did we learn to read and write?
We began slowly. Taking things one-step at a time, often to the point of exhaustion.
Attached I am providing the layout for the 5-paragraph essay. I created this and have used it to teach my children to write. I use this layout during the school year, in the summer and on breaks to re-enforce what my children learn in school. This is not a stand-alone tool; there are other tools you need when working with your children on how to write, read, understand, and express.
I began using this tool when my children where in the 3rd grade. It took a very long time for it to sink in, but we continued to work on this until they got it right. I hope it is as beneficial to you all as it has been for us.
I will try to post more of these tools as I work through this blog.
If you have tools that have worked for you, please share them or send them to me so I can share them with a link to your website or whatever profile you choose. The more we share our stories, the more we learn.
Until Next Time,
Also, if you notice errors, please contact me. I am happy to fix them. I knew going into this experience that my LD might show and while it might be embarrassing sometimes, the only way you are going to understand what I am saying is to see those mistakes in my writing. I maintain this set of facts: (1) Writing is not my first language, (2) I write this blog to share information and to practice the skill. I hope each day to grow this part of my life. I will gladly make changes because it makes this a more efficient page. And I thank you in advance for your assistance.