Are you dyslectic too? The title above is how I often see words. I have always been in the half of the class that made the top half possible. At first, I figured… well, I am just a slow coach, not the brightest light on the string, lazy or whatever else I was told growing up.
And then I heard a fellow speaker of my Toastmasters Club, Nancy Street, give a compelling presentation on her dyslexia and I vicariously learned that, like her, I too am dyslectic.
That term did not exist when I was growing up but it sure answers lots of questions in my own mind.
Nancy edited a couple of my books and was an educator by profession. She did not learn of her dyslexia until later in life and her eyes were suddenly opened to lots of questions that always nagged her.
Dyslexia is often hereditary and like me, many don’t learn of the trait until later in life. It is said that 40 percent of siblings may also be similarly affected. I vividly recall struggling with reading out loud. I had no problems giving a speech and in fact I won the South Carolina Oratorical Speech Contest in high school. But I could not have won if I had to read it.
Dyslectics typically never read at expected grade levels. We often don’t understand jokes or idioms and we are classically disorganized and have trouble managing our time. We struggle to summarize a story and learning a foreign language is very difficult.
I personally find I am a backward reader, in more ways than one. My most common trait is I’ll start reading the end of a book or an article and if it captures my attention, I’ll go back and read the first part. I have no logical explanation for that.
I often make errors in my writing, some of which slip by the local newspaper editors. This is another classic hallmark of dyslexia. Thank God for spell check. Still I often write one word where I meant to write another.
I recall having trouble recognizing the letters of the alphabet and sounding out certain letters like a b or an h was difficult. Learning new words was also challenging, resulting in a smaller vocabulary than other kids my age. Counting correctly and chronologically following is a challenge.
Ironically, my memory worked well over the years and I have been able to master the spoken word. However, I often have trouble staying on message. To overcompensate, I’ll often use PowerPoint in my presentations just to keep me on tract and not allow my mixed up brain to wonder or use improper grammar. All dyslectics don’t have all the issues. Memory was not a problem for me but it is for others.
However, getting tripped by certain words and math are quite often part of a continuing challenge for me even today. I find myself making mistakes in writing information on a life insurance application, often reversing dates or social security numbers. I see it one way and my brain another.
For the past 43 years, my staff has had to edit the thousands of insurance applications I have taken over the years. Staff members say I make an error of reversing digits at least 5 percent of the time.
Most dyslexics will exhibit about ten of the following traits and behaviors, according to author Ronald Davis, who has penned several books on the subject.
These characteristics can vary from day-to-day or minute-to-minute. The most consistent thing about dyslexics is their inconsistency. We appear bright, highly intelligent, and articulate but we’re unable to read, write, or spell at grade level. Moreover, Davis says we are often mislabeled as:
—Labeled lazy, dumb, careless, immature, “not trying hard enough,” or “behavior problem.”
—Isn’t “behind enough” or “bad enough” to be helped in the school setting.
—High in IQ, yet may not test well academically; tests well orally, but not written.
—Feels dumb; has poor self-esteem; hides or covers up weaknesses with ingenious compensatory strategies; easily frustrated and emotional about school reading or testing.
—Talented in art, drama, music, sports, mechanics, story-telling, sales, business, designing, building, or engineering.
—Seems to “Zone out” or daydream often; gets lost easily or loses track of time.
—Difficulty sustaining attention; seems “hyper” or “daydreamer.”
—Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation, and visual aids.
Are you dyslectic too?