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.
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!
There is quite a lot of research about using different colour clear plastic sheets over the book / text which will help you when reading or wearing some glasses with coloured lenses.
I’ve not tried either of these but I’ve heard good reports that they do help a dyslexic person to read.
What happens when I read?
When I’m reading a book it’s a very slow process. It’s quite difficult to explain but I struggle with seeing the words and not being able to process the word quick enough in order to read a sentance in a fluid way.
I seem to have a knack at missing out word regardless if I know the word or not and something just add a word in myself because it’s what I think should be there.
Needless to say because of this reading becomes difficult and slow. I never read out loud and even get frustrated when reading to my son. It’s not the easiest part of being dyslexic but you can learn to manage it better without the use of glasses / coloured paper.
Because I do not read very offten it does mean if I pick up a book I will struggle but what I find helps is reading something I truely enjoy. If I am enjoying reading the book in question I find myself ensuring I ‘read’ all the words and end up double checking many of the sentances to see if I did add in a random word or not.
It is important that if you are dyslexic and you want to improve your reading ability you read something you enjoy as without the enjoyment you will put the book down and forget about it thus not helping yourself.
The last book I did read and enjoyed was Derren Brown’s “Trick of the Mind”
It’s not exactly a book which will help you with being dyslexic but because I enjoy watching him on TV (I’ve seen him live too) and find what he does fascinating it did mean I had a keen interest in reading his book. Once I picked up the book I actually found it hard to put down.
Reading the book though I did struggle and it’s at this point you (and I) need to ask someone for some help.
Having someone to just point out where you went wrong, what a word says or means allows you to contine ready with a better understand. It also means you have just learned a new word and if possible, commit it to memory for use at a later date.
By finding something you are interested in, reading about that interest whether in a book or online you will slowly improve your reading ability. It is important to keep trying though as if you stop reading for a while it does set you back (tried and tested).
Over the years I’ve managed to over come many areas of my my inability to read, write and spell but I’ve always either had help or I’ve managed to find a sensible (perhaps even clever) solution. Even starting this entry in the blog caused some problems.
I know there is ‘effect’ and ‘affect’ – they sound the same but I know they need to be used in different contexts. The first thing I did was Google the words to see if I could work out the difference. Although there are many pages I still don’t actually know whether ‘effected’ was the correct version to use. Reading the pages they started to talk about verbs and nouns and to this day I still do not fully understand this.
Growing up not knowing whether I was / wasn’t dyslexic meant I had to find a work around for a lot of things other wise I would basically get embarrassed and generally feel low if people noticed the errors.
Filling in forms was a common fun area I had to deal with. General forms which require your name and address were easy enough as those would be committed to memory ergo I would not have to actually spell the word(s) I would just have to recall them from memory and write them down.
If a form actually asked for information not committed to memory I would of course struggle.
If for example I wanted to write: “I’m very competent when using a Personal Computer”
I would actually write: “I’m very good at using a PC”
Of course the above was not something I think I ever wrote but it gives you an idea of how I would work around not being able to spell. We are lucky enough that within the English language a specific sentence can normally be written in a variety of ways which would allow me to use the work around to still write what I wanted to say, it would just not be as eloquent as I would of liked.
Of course this is just 1 example of how a person with dyslexia may work around a specific problem. I’m lucky enough that I’ve not had a problem taking / constructing sentences (I’m quite articulate when talking) my main problem is trying to express what I want to say written down.
Hi and welcome to my first post on dyslexia diary.
Dyslexia Diary is my own real world account of what it’s like to be a 30 (ish) year old man who has Dyslexia and the challenges I face almost everyday at home and at work and the ways I’ve learned to get around my problems.
Although being dyslexic can mean a variety of things my symptoms are reading, writing and spelling. From an early age I struggled to read at school and of course my spelling and writing ability fell behind quite quickly. Throughout school my family tried to pressure the school to accept I was dyslexic but after a meeting with a education psychologist who deemed me to not be dyslexic I ended up going all the way through school being classed as ‘thick’.
To clarify the above, when I visited the educational psychologist at the age of 12 (or at least sometime around then) he decided I was not dyslexic due to being able to write my name ‘joined up.
Needless to say that my GCSE grades were rather bad and I only managed 1 grade C which was in Maths.
From this point in life I didn’t really know where to go or what to do. I did end up going to college and I started doing a BTEC First Diploma in Information Technology. It was at this point that I noticed I was not actually ‘thick’ as I excelled very quickly in this course and managed to get quite a few distinctions along the way.
Once I finished the first diploma I progressed to the National Diploma again in Information Technology. Throughout my 3 years at college I never had help with the dyslexic issues yet I still managed to pass everything with quite good grades.
Fast forward a few years to the age of 23 where the story continues. It was at this age I reached another turning point which lead me back to college to study a HND in Computers. Being a lot older and the fact Dyslexia was a little more ‘main stream’ I ended up going to see a second educational psychologist who conducted similar tests to see if I was Dyslexic.
The test lasted a bit over an hour (if memory serves right) and at the end I was told:
You have a reading age of a 15 / 16 year old boy. Your spelling is also around this age, perhaps a little bit lower though.
On hearing this I actually had quite a mix of emotions, the first was relief the second was anger.
I was quite pleased that I was labelled dyslexic as for me it was proof that I was not actually thick I just struggled with the usual dyslexic problems. The anger was because the first “psychologist” was wrong and the fact the school didn’t listen to my Mother and classed me as thick.
When I look back now though I have to be slightly impressed that if I had a reading age of a 15/16 year old when I was actually 23 years old how low was my level when I was in school and college and with that in mind, how did I ever managed to pass the IT courses so well.