Making the Ordinary, Extraordinary
Dyslexia is something a lot of people suffer from. It won`t fade with time, and it doesn`t care that you are an adult and too old for that nonsense. It`s actually quite frustrating, really. I saw this post on the subject the other day, and I have to say I understand.
I don`t think I really have to describe what it is like to not be able to understand letters. To still confuse ‘b’ and ‘d’ in third grade, when the teacher tells you only Kindergarteners have that problem. To not be able to read and memorize your lines in drama class, to be the worst in orchestra class because you can`t tell what notes are which. To feel so stupid and dumb that you can`t figure out matrices in Math class, and be told that is the easiest and simplest bit of Math ever created. Well, it`s not. It`s hard to keep track of which number goes with which, and it is always hard t0 keep track of negative signs when they sometimes don`t exist. It`s all hard.
The main thing is the embarrassment that goes with it. You feel stupid and slow in every class, and you just want to quit school, no matter how bright you normally are. All that paperwork and assignments can be the most difficult thing!
If you are curious about dyslexia, I found a few symptoms on this site.
Something you may not know about the dyslexic is that many cases often choose one area to power through. For example, despite my dyslexia, I have had an incredibly high reading speed and comprehension since I got fed up of being slow in elementary school. My Dad chose to do Math, and got a Masters in statistics. (As well as wood products and computer programming, because he seems to like being a student and collecting Master`s degrees.) My cousin has quadruple vision, a facet of visual focusing disabilities, and yet he got a major in music and reads sheet music as well as I read books.
Like I said, though, there is a trade off. Though you can choose to power through a subject, that means that others will be completely affected by your disability. My Dad, though a Math whiz, takes months to finish a book I can read in an hour. My sister the Math whiz can`t drive, as all the lines on the road move and change, and I can`t do Math or spell or memorize lines, and my efforts at learning Japanese are still along the lines of learning ‘how do you do’ after three years of continuous study. I think the most frustrating thing for me, as a wordie, is just the fact that I can never pronounce the bigger words I know correctly! I can only read them and write them. I think I have spoken dyslexia as well!
As I hinted in that, there are actually several different disabilities commonly called dyslexia. Actually, only seeing letters and images backwards are truly dyslexia. The rest, including moving letters or numbers and seeing things upside down, is actually part of a spectrum called visual focusing disabilities. I just call it dyslexia because that is what the average layman calls it, and I don`t want to confuse people. If you want more official-ness, just go to The International Dyslexia Association`s page.
There are, in fact, ways of improving this condition. Though the site I just mentioned says, correctly, that there is no ‘cure’ for dyslexia, there are things you can do to improve your functionality in the world. I went through visual therapy, which aims at improving the signal connection and communication between the eyes and the brain. It basically exercises your brain so that it learns how to follow letters and words, improving your reading outside of the class. This site seems to have programs that are similar and useful to the ones I did, though it is still best to try and find a local eye doctor that also does visual therapy. The office I went to was Dr. Cantwell`s. The thing to remember about visual disabilities is that they are rather under diagnosed. Though dyslexia is well known, the symptoms are often not searched for, and a casual checkup by a learning disability official at your child`s school or at the Optomotrist`s are not likely to give you an official diagnosis, even if you need one.
I`ve seen a lot of sites today that advise you to search hither and yon until you get an official diagnosis, but I don`t agree. I think that waiting for an official diagnosis is a waste of time. You have a problem, and it needs to be fixed, regardless of whether a piece of paper says if you are a proper dyslexic or not. It doesn`t cost anything to go to that site, or others, and try it out. If you start doing better in the areas that were bothering you, you should seek further treatment, regardless of the minutia.
That being said, if you seek further treatment, an official diagnosis will probably come part and parcel. They are useful for getting an IEP and other considerations for your child`s learning (or getting disability benefits at your college) and they might be the documentation you need to get your insurance to off set some costs. I just don`t want you to wait to do anything for the next decade because you don`t officially have a problem, like I see with so many other kids and adults.
There are many other things you can do to improve your ability to function and learn. Check with you school or university`s learning disability office for any accommodations they can give you or ideas for studying they can share. Many workplaces have similar programs, and websites abound on practical ideas to combat your problems.