Overcompensating with my son?

As you may of guessed already I suffer from Dyslexia (I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to of worked that out) and because it’s been hard for me throughout life as it was not noticed till I was quite old I’m finding myself watching my son like a hawk to see if he is showing signs of being dyslexic.

My son (Zack) is a bit over 3 years old now and I keep watching and asking him questions in case he is dyslexic so I can catch it as soon as possible, of course with him being so young I’m being stupid but I would hate for him to suffer as I have / did / still do.

I don’t have any issues if my son is dyslexic as I would of course make sure he got the help he needed but perhaps I’m jumping the gun a little as we ‘study’ together from time to time as I would love for him to have a head start just in case.

So I was wondering what is a good age to really start and push study / education to a child?  I’m picking as many of the fun topics I can with Zack.  As a young boy he’s of course interested in Thomas the tank Engine which of course is a steam train.  Picking up that he’s perhaps a little too obsessed with this we took it just that little bit further and bought a book which explains (in a simple way) how a steam engine actually works.

So by reading this to him and explaining how the water heats up, produces steam which drives the pistons Zack now knows all this and it’s committed to his memory.

Zack learning the solar system

Zack learning the solar system

I’ve also started on our solar system, this may sound a bit over the top but I’m starting simple.  You can see from the picture I printed out a picture of the planets (and the sun) and put them on the wall so he can go and look at them all the time.  I picked the solar system because he showed an interest in this as I’ve been working on it for some of my OU modules (I didn’t pick the solar system at random).

Some people seem a little surprised at the work as it’s no doubt something you would not really expect a 3 year old to be learning but thus far everything is going very well.  I never tell him we are going to study it’s always Zack who starts talking about the trains / planets and hopefully in a couple more weeks he will know the full order of the planets and we can move on to something else he finds interesting.

I don’t believe I’m pushing him but I am explaining everything to him on a level he should probably not really understand but i think this is due to the overcompensating I’m doing as I’m worried he will be dyslexic.


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Can you learn without a tutor



So over the past few months I’ve been trying to do a OU degree in Natural Science but it’s getting to that point where I’m ready to stop trying.  Like many things trying to learn for a dyslexic is hard at the best of time but trying to do this without having a tutor at the other end of the room talking to you is becoming difficult.

It seem that for my dyslexia I need that human contact in order to learn (or to at least to ask those questions where I can’t find the answer myself).  As the course is progressing and the work becomes more difficult just reading the work, doing questions and tasks is not working that well for me.

When I was stuck on balancing chemical equations I ended up turning to Youtube and watching a small clip which worked very well for me.  After watching the video I ‘got it’ however there is not a Youtube for all the problems which means I’ll have to use another method for a walk around.

I do of course have a tutor who I can e-mail but, as you may know it can be difficult to get a ‘point’ across so it will take a few e-mails to get the answers I’m looking for.  I could also phone her but I’ve not really had much of a chance because of the real world but it’s getting to that point where I may have to make time or my work is going to suffer.

So what is next… Well if I want to carry on doing the course I will as always have to come up with a workaround!  It seems that if you are dyslexic you generally have to come up with different methods to combat the short falls and this will be something you will have to do all the time.


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Lots of Study and coping with it all

It’s been a while since I last posted which is mainly down to being very busy!

I’m still doing my Natural Science degree with the good old OU but I also started a course (10 week course) with Sunderland College.  The course is ‘An introduction to forensic science’ which does tie in a little to the degree but not as much as I thought.  It does mean though that because I’m doing this I tend to have double home work each week which, as you may guess is becoming difficult to try and get everything done in the correct amount of time!

The OU course is slowly coming along but regardless of how much time I’m putting in I keep falling behind.  It’s not just the reading aspect that slows me down it’s also the learning part.  I’ve been finding that just reading some text, answering some questions on said text does not mean I’m learning.

I’ve started having to contact my tutor a little more often to try and help which is starting to help a bit more.  The problem I’ve been facing is that I sometimes just ‘don’t get’ what the book is saying and without having a tutor sitting there whom I could ask I was starting to struggle.  As the book is of course fixed I’ve been finding it easier to ask my tutor for her view / explanation of what the book is saying.  This is allowing me to have 2 points of view on the subject which is helping to fully understand what is actually happening.

For me, getting two points of view on a subject allows me to put together what it all means and to hopefully fully understand what I was reading to begin with.  Also, as a side note, I’m asking real people that know / teach what I’m learning rather than seeking out the information online.  The main reason is the information you will come across online (yes even Wikipedia) is incorrect so I would be learning incorrect information at times which of course would lead me to having the wrong understanding on a subject.

In a nut shell: if you are studying a subject and you just can’t ‘get it’ – ask someone who knows and if that does not work… ask again and ask them to explain it differently!

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Using Youtube

I’ve been doing a course at the OU (Open University) now for a couple of months and it’s a introduction to Science which will hopefully lead on to a science degree.  The course (being a introduction) has not been too difficult at the moment but I did run in to problems due to being dyslexic.

As it’s part of the OU I don’t have any lectures so I’m never actually talking to a teacher about the work.  This didn’t cause to many problems until I got to chemical equations.

I’ve never had a problem with maths as such but I can’t remember doing any chemical equations so when I started on these I began to struggle.  I had read, re-read and read again the chapters about chemical equations but I just could not figure it out.  I went back to the OU site and looked about for further help.

On the OU site we have some forums which are specific to our course.  I soon noticed I was not the only one struggling and there was a few posts explaining about how to tackle / solve chemical equations and more specifically how to balance the equations.

Again though I thought I had ‘cracked’ it but it turns out I had not.  As a few days passed I did start to worry but I came across a post from the teacher in charge of this module and he had linked to some other sites explaining how to balance chemical equations.  Reading them didn’t help but there was also a link to a YouTube clip.

I watched the clip which was or course someone talking about the equations and how to balance them and after I had finished I could do them.

What I noticed was in order to learn the new maths I actually needed someone to ‘talk’ and explain how to solve the problem rather than trying to read this from a book.  It of course makes sense because of the fact I don’t process words when reading the ‘normal’ way.

I would not recommend just going right to YouTube to try and learn something new unless you know it’s correct in the first instance, as the link was from a lecturer from the course I presumed / guessed he had already watched the video and decided it was correct and worth linking to.

If anyone is interested in how to balance chemical equations then clip below is what I watched and what helpped me understand this.

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Tools for Dyslexics

As many people now work on computers whether it is for work, study or just for fun you will have to type and spell which as we know by now is not the best thing in the world for a Dyslexic person to do.

There is are various types of software which you can by these days though which can help, one of which is Dragon Naturally Speaking which is a voice recognition program.  The whole idea is once setup, you can just talk in to a microphone and the software translates your voice / words in to text and types this out for you.  This means (if it works correctly) that is does not matter if you can or cannot spell the word as the computer will know how to.

So the question is, will this work?

Rather than typing this I am sitting here talking to the microphone whilst I am talking I am watching the words appear as I say them, this means that no matter which word I want to display I don’t have to worry about spelling for example ‘environment’ ‘laryngitis’

the software is not perfect as it will sometimes write the incorrect word.  The software is capable of learning your voice which will allow for less mistakes to be made so at time you will be sent back and simply talk to your computer whilst it types everything you say.

Although I have been talking and software is doing a very good job I still have to go back every now and then and correct the errors that sometimes appear however it is saving me a lot of time and of course I do not have to worry about my spelling errors.

I think if you want to use the software to its full potential it will take time to get used to talking rather than typing I am also finding that trying to construct sentences is a lot slower than typing as I have two think of the words or sentence and when I am speaking am trying to talk as clearly as possible so that a few mistakes are made.

I would guess that using the software more often it would become a lot more natural but like everything it just takes time.

If you read the above you can see there are still some mistakes (I didn’t fully edit the text to be ‘perfect’), I did have to change a few words, one of which being ‘word’ which when I kept saying this it kept writing ‘mood’ for some reason.

Although not perfect the software will / can save you a lot of time as while you are talking you simply watch the text appear as you go and if you spot a mistake, stop talking, correct said mistake and carry on.

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Dealing with criticism

From time to time you will be faced with people criticising your spelling / reading whether this is at work, in a shop, at home or just about anywhere you need to read and write in front of people who don’t know you are dyslexic.

For me I’ve always dealt with this criticism badly but I would guess most people do as no one likes being show up.  I’ve found it hard over the years to deal with people who point out spelling errors or when I read something incorrect and for the most this is because I am dyslexic and I cannot read and spell very well rather than just making a mistake.

My full time job at the moment is a ‘Internet Marketer’ – what this basically means is I will create a website, add content, get some links and try to make money off said site.  All the sites I create will have some content on as without the content a site is worthless in the eyes of the search engines.  However this of course is not a great situation to be in when you can’t really write and spell very well and you are constantly adding in new content to sites.

Throughout the years of working online I’ve had hundreds of e-mails from various people commenting on my spelling errors and grammatical errors on just about every site I’ve ever produced.

Up until recently I’ve always wanted to send an e-mail back to these people telling them to .. well being polite ‘get lost’ and many times I have which has caused some online arguments via e-mails which, at the end of the day is just pointless.  It’s hard for anyone to take criticism but I think being dyslexic and knowing that you can’t spell very well cuts you just that little bit deeper.

As time goes on though and I become older and wiser I tend to play it down via e-mail and just explain that it was just a silly error and I’ll get it changed but I’ve found this a very difficult transition and still do.

It is not an easy thing to do but if someone is going to criticise your spelling / reading you really need to be able to just let it go and move on.  I do find being daft with it normally works but it is a hard state of mind to get to.

On the other site of this though many of the e-mails I get commenting about how poor my spelling is tend to look like they have been written by a five year old.  I’ve had many e-mails in which I’ve asked my wife to look at and she noticed (as did I) many spelling and grammatical errors in the e-mails which were criticising my mistakes.

I can understand people making mistakes but if you are going to comment on other people’s spelling mistakes you would ‘think’ you would take the time to ensure that the e-mail you are sending if free from mistakes itself.  I would also like to add that many of these e-mails I get are from people like teachers, solicitors and various other large business owners!

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Am I Dyslexic?

As my day job is online, making sites selling products and such like I’m always on various sites, one of which is Yahoo Answers.  I’ve noticed more and more that they are many people from all over the world asking whether or not they are dyslexic based on a few symptoms they describe.

Over time I’ve been answering some of the questions but my answers always boil down to one sentence.

If you think you are dyslexic you are best off getting tested for dyslexia by an educational psychologist

People will ask all the usual questions about how they miss read words or swap letters about (the usual dyslexia symptoms) but if you want to know for sure you need to get tested.

It’s easy for me to look at how people are suffering and think to myself “Yes those are signs of dyslexia perhaps  you are dyslexic” but without a real test just knowing/thinking you are dyslexic will not be enough to help you through life.  Once you have been confirmed as dyslexic you will find many new door open and plenty of extra help can and will be provided.

As I’m confirmed as dyslexic it means that I will have extra time to complete tests / exams, not just in education but also in things like the driving theory test.  These extra time limits and the extra help are the things which are going to make the difference.

I’m currently doing a OU (Open University) course in Science and when I signed up I of course registered as Dyslexic.  Since I’ve done this I’ve already had 2 phone calls to talk about my needs and I’ve now had all the course work sent to me on CD in the form of audio books.  I have not actually proved to the OU I’m dyslexic yet as this is not a degree but once I start the degree I will have to send over the confirmation in order to keep on getting help.

So if you are not sure whether you are or are not dyslexic remember that although people can offer advice you are best off being tested in order to know for sure.

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Stress with Dyslexia

Having and being dyslexic can be very stressful at times and it’s hard for me not to get a little annoyed.  Although I never mean to be nasty it becomes quite frustrating when trying to spell or read and that in turn leads to anger, not at others (although I will take it out on my wife) but more at myself.

I know I’m intelligent and able to read and write but even reading out loud for my son causes me to become agitated as I struggle with reading for him.  It may just be me but I would guess many people with dyslexia will come across this more often than they would like to admit.

I’m starting a science degree (OU) and I’ve already came across problems which is none too surprising.  Although I’ve been able to read the work thus far I’ve already managed to misread a question.  The question which was a maths based one was I thought, easy to read.  I did all the working out which was fine, asked my wife to check it and she came to the same answers to but then when she read the question she pointed out I had completely misread it and although the answer was correct based on my assumptions the answer was wrong for the question.

It’s sometimes the little things that lead me to snap at the people trying to help.  I often have to ask the wife for help in spelling something.  She will start to spell the word but at a ‘normal’ speed but it’s at a speed that I cannot keep up with.  This means I always snap at her for going too fast.

I snap mainly as it’s frustrating to me that I can’t keep up when I believe I should be able to.  Luckily she does understand and will spell the word again after which I normally say sorry!

It’s not just the people close to you who you will snap at as I’ve managed to do it to the professional trying to help me as well.  I would say that in a way I felt justified to questioning their teaching methods but of course I did go over the top.

For an example I remember when doing my HND in Computing I was offered some extra help which I decided to take (not a easy choice as I don’t like admitting I have a problem).  On our first meeting I sat down with a middle aged lady and we started to discuss my needs / problem areas after which she produced 26 blocks with the letters of the alphabet wrote on them.

You have to remember at this point I did not feel comfortable even talking about being dyslexic!

So she continued on talking and picked up a block with the letter A on it and proceeded to say

This is the letter A – it’s the first letter of the alphabet and is pronounced ‘a’

Needless to say this really annoyed me and I let her know my feelings on this.  I started to explain that I was not thick and after studying a BTEC first diploma in IT, BTEC National Diploma in IT and that I was on the second year of my HND how on earth did she think I had managed to get this far without knowing what the first letter of the alphabet was and how to pronounce this.

At the time I guess the whole idea of being dyslexic had not really sunk in as it were and she basically made me feel really dumb which is why I started ‘having a go’.  It was of course wrong the way I went on and I have no real excuse for it but she should of also approached things in a different way.  She could of started by asking if I know the alphabet!  This would of still started to get my temperature up but I don’t think I would of went off on one.. as much anyway!

It’s always been hard to accept help or to take criticism (no doubt the same for 90% of people) but I guess growing up with dyslexia, being told you were thick for all of your school life it does put you on edge.

As time has gone on though I started to just accept it, at 33 years old I can now just talk about it openly but it’s taken a long time to get to this point for me.  Having a 2 year old son helps as he will of course keep on wanting stories read to him and of course help with school work.  This and a understanding wife has helped me on my own personal journey to just ‘get over it’ and accept help if/when I need it.


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Be Prepared

In any given normal day most people will end up reading / writing something and on the odd occasion they will have to spell.  Of course this means for people like me the stress / anger / embarrassment will come out.

One thing I’ve now started doing is being a good boy scout and getting prepared before having to undertake one of the dreaded tasks.  For example I do sometimes have to actually ring and speak to people and this can involve giving out my name or address.  Now spelling my name is perfectly ok, I’ve been doing it a while, but the address does sometimes catch me out.

Part of the address where I live at the moment is ‘Sherburn’ – it’s not a hard word to spell but when faced with being asked for it, I have to go back to the way I spell (as I explained in a previous post).  This means lots of pauses and hesitation which frustrates me and I would not like to guess what the person I’m spelling this to is thinking!

So before I make a phone call which could involve giving my address (or something similar) I will actually write everything down.  As I’m writing it down I’m also spelling it as I go, sort of practising to myself before the dreaded moment where the person on the other end of the phone goes…

Could you spell that for me please

It’s something many people wont have to do but seeing that I (and many Dyslexic’s) can’t spell for toffee it’s just another way around not showing yourself up in public (as it were).

Of course doing this at home is easy and just takes a few moments before you make the phone call but when you are out and about it’s a little more complicated.

I’m very lucky that when I am out and about I’m generally going to be with my wife and son.  Of course my wife understands the whole dyslexic thing so when I do have to spell something she is ‘normally’ on the ball and will write it down for me.  This saves me looking silly when out but, of course, there are times she will not be there with me and of course my 2 year old son can’t help me just yet!

When faced with writing in public and my wife is not about I tend to use excuses in order to give me time to process exactly what I’m doing.  This can be anything from saying the pen is not working, a fake cough, getting a text message etc

All I’m doing its allowing myself a few extra moments so my brain can process the information I need so when I talk / spell the word(s) I don’t look like a fool.  To most (if not all) people I do this too they are never any the wiser to my slight delay tactics which allows me to carry on like I have no problems at all spelling / writing words down.

Really it would be nice to just say:

This could take a little longer than normal as I’m Dyslexic and struggle with reading and writing

But as most people will know and understand many people are not that understanding so rather than just being honest I have to cause the delay.

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Dealing with reading mistakes

So once in a while I will be out shopping for a card whether this is a birthday card, anniversary or Christmas card but this of course depends on the time of the year.  Although a very simple process in theory I’ve twice not made two very silly mistakes by buying the wrong card.

I remember a little while back I was invited to a friends wedding so of course I needed to buy a congratulations on getting married card.  I went in to the shop, spent some time finding the card (reading the message inside), bought the card and headed back to the car.  It’s at this point my wife (girlfriend at the time) pointed out I had bought a card saying ‘congratulations on your engagement’.

Of course after she pointed out the error I was, if being honest too ashamed to return the card and exchange it for a correct one.  Luckily my wife did this as she knows how I get if/when I make a mistake.

The second time I’ve done this was yesterday (Valentines days).  Yet again I went to a supermarket, browsed the card section (the correct section) found a card which message inside I liked, bought the card and thought nothing of it.  Of course the wife didn’t see the card when I was buying it as it is meant to be a surprise.

However, when I got home and finally wrote the card out the front of the card read ‘Happy Annaversity’ .. oops

This is a problem I find when reading books cards or anything really.  For some reason when reading I will sort of ‘skim’ the words I’m reading and replace words with what I ‘think’ should be there.  In the case of the valentines card I just replaced Anniversary with Valentines.

This does pose a problem in everyday life but it’s something I need and other dyslexic’s should try to avoid by just simply reading slowly and each word.  It will make reading much slower but better to read slow than to buy your wife a Annaversity card on Valentines day!



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