Sunday, March 25, 2012

Living With Dyslexia

Continuing on my series of blogs posts about literacy I thought I'd share what it is like to actually live with a Learning Disability.  I have 2 :-) One is a form of dyslexia where I invert numbers and letters. The other is a a short term memory loss issue.  I'll write a post on how that effects one quality of life later. :-P

if i was to tyep with out uisng spell chekc or goin gback an noorecting all my mistakes you woudl see all teh mistakes i make in jus tone stenence.  No I did not fake that... that is really truly what it looks like when I type. Go ahead MMORPG friends tell em you awarded me a typo cape... Isn't it pretty? 

I'll never be a typist. If my high school  typing teacher hadn't taken me by the hand and give me extra credit work, I would have never passed. He was a really nice guy, he gave me an A for effort, and sheer determination.  Even Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing can't help me.  My best score is 30 WPM with a 70% accuracy. What I really hate is, the more I practice, the weirder the errors become.  If I finally get my fingers to remember G is on the left hand, suddenly I'm typing H's instead of  G's! Why is my right hand reacting???HUH??? how does that happen. I have no clue!! my body is seriously miss-wired.

When I was in Mrs. Blacks class in 2nd grade, I remember getting my spelling test back from her. I saw I had spelled every word wrong. I had studied, and studied, and studied!!! It was so not fair.  I followed her around the classroom begging her to look again. Saying "Every word has all the letters"  10 words all spelled wrong yet only containing the letters they are made from. RED FLAG people... instead of help all I saw was the back of her dress, as she ignored my rather obnoxious pleas for a better grade.

My childhood was filled with tape cassettes of spelling words my father lovingly made up for me. Every day I had to listen to him spelling the word saying the word then a pause for me to write the word correctly... then spelling it again for me to see if I spelled it right. When I did this every day for a week I would pass.  No! I would not get an A a measly C- is what I would bring home.  I always wondered, if it was worth all the effort I had to put into it.  I never thought an A was possible. I just couldn't spell. Rote memorization was the method that worked enough to get me to pass.

I wonder how I would have learned to read if I had been taught using a phonics program.  When I took over teaching Sweet Potato to read around lesson 30 in 100EZ lessons I marveled... wow is that why it makes that sound. I spent a year learning as much as my child. You see our school used the whole word method. I remember memorizing whole words as the only thing I understood about reading.  Thank goodness because I'm an avid reader. I love to read. But for years I called sword "s-w-ord"  much to the amusement of my brother.  But would I have been able to learn to read if I had to parse the words??

In class, we would have to get up and read aloud. I would stand up and start reading... waiting for the teacher to "yell" at me to stop wasting class time. (I'm sure she wasn't yelling and I bet to high heaven I had auditory processing issues to boot, because any loud voice was Yelling in my world.)   Yet again I was not reading my paragraph correctly.  Yup one or 2 sentences in she would tell me in disgust to just sit down.
Years later like 20 years later when I went to a specialist in optometry for dyslexia, he was testing me and as I read aloud he would nod and circle nod and circle. My dear old eyes will follow a break in the words and jump up and grab a word directly above it insert it into my reading as smooth as silk. I knew I was reading all the words I saw but somehow they didn't make sense.  I'd be thinking "Why is there an extra "and" in this sentence?"  As a child I just learned to ignore words that intruded themselves upon me.  But by the time I was working my job required me to proof read my work  (Oh yeah that was smart. let's give the dyslexic proofreading to do that will be fun to watch.) 99.9% of the time I needed, a third pair of eyes on my work or "sausage" was spelled "suasgae."  I needed help.

Hence the visit to the Dyslexia Optometrist. He made me do all these weird exercises, light therapy, etc... I found out I was hardly using my right eye and that my peripheral vision in that one was really bad. Like was I in a car accident bad...  Um I figured out what caused that, Mom I know your reading this blog... remember the big Maple tree in the front of the house, next to the creek. Well I climbed up that one day when I was 13, and you were out convincing people to get tested for cancer. I fell out of it. Just like in the cartoons bouncing from branch to branch I was at least 2 stories high. I landed on that 2ft swath of grass you know the tiny patch of grass between the asphalt driveway and the concrete... smack on my right side... then just like in the cartoons I rolled into the rock garden and bounced down into the concrete creek culvert. I lay there unable to move in a half inch of water. Thinking to myself... "Good thing I'm face up or I'd be drowning right now. I don't think I'll tell anyone about this, as it was such a Stooopid thing to do!!!" after a few minutes (AKA forever!) I was able to get up. Nothing was in screaming pain, just dull pain, I washed all my algae covered clothes and took a shower before you got home.

So after I got help as an adult it was more manageable, but I still can't tell when a word is spelled right. Tho one bad thing about macs is the spell checker learns your unique words and starts adding them into your dictionary. I knew I was in trouble when it started accepting teh and intuited it was one of my unique words. nooooooooooo!  Some  people can look at a word and just know it's spelled right.  Not I! All words need to be checked and re-checked, thank goodness for spell checker, it makes blogging easier :-)

So if I've amused you today :-) donate a few $$ for women's literacy here: and make my day.

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