Dyslexia & Me

Does that word mean anything to you, if so, what?

It has so many meanings to me… stupid, fighter, disability, left behind, worn out, tired, try harder, be better, not good enough, second, the reason…

And arises many emotions inside of me… sadness, anxiety, fear, relief, worry, regret…

I am dyslexic. My parents knew early on but lost the battle to get me tested until I was in high school. But by then the damage was done and I was plain tired from working so hard and not seeing any improvements. I had teachers who mocked me, labeled me slow or stupid. Classmates laughed at me and called me dumb. Some of my siblings did that for a time too. I was the 1 out of the 4 of us who studied all the time but still made bad grades. I never felt I was good enough. I knew of the canyon that separated me from everyone else scholastically. Even in high school when I got some help it was still a big struggle. I had to take the ACT 3 times before getting the lowest score needed to get into college. I never attempted the SAT.

I didn’t read books, not even required reading. I read the cliff notes and got my sister to tell me everything else. When I did have to read for class or homework it was laborious, tiring and took forever because I was slow and would fall asleep often because me eyes were so tired. Sounding out new words was awkward and I never did that in front of others. I remember my spelling was awful early on. I hated it but my mom made me work at it, she quizzed me over and over each week forever with the new spelling words. When she would proof an essay or paper for me she made me look up the words I misspelled and correct them. She never corrected them for me no matter how much I pleaded with her to just give me the answer. I came up with rhymes to help me remember how to spell big words. To this day I still use them. My favorite is GEOGRAPHY.

George Eats Old Gray Rats And Paints Houses Yellow.

I am thankful to my mom for not giving me the answer and for her determination when working with me in elementary school on spelling because I learned tricks and techniques to spell correctly…now I don’t misspell too many words and I love that my husband and kids come to me for spelling help.

Dyslexia is my main, biggest wall I have built. The feelings I had associated with all the negative things I heard about me to my face, behind my back helped form the poor self-image and negative self talk. They say you have to hear 3 compliments to make up for one insult. Well I am not keeping score point by point but there is a huge deficit and having negative self-image only compounds the issue.

So what is dyslexia? Over the last 10+ years a lot has been learned about this and it is moving from something no one understood to an entire new way to approach teaching and learning for those with it. Not to mention there are those who are studying the great things about dyslexia and the advantage dyslexics have over non dyslexics.

Watch this video: Cognitive Strengths of Dyslexics

Here is what The International Dyslexia Associations says:

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. (We are literally wired different)

It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

Adopted by the IDA Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002. This Definition is also used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Studies show that individuals with dyslexia process information in a different area of the brain than do non-dyslexics.

What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms, will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services.

What causes dyslexia?
The exact causes of dyslexia are still not completely clear, but anatomical and brain imagery studies show differences in the way the brain of a dyslexic person develops and functions. Moreover, most people with dyslexia have been found to have problems with identifying the separate speech sounds within a word and/or learning how letters represent those sounds, a key factor in their reading difficulties. Dyslexia is not due to either lack of intelligence or desire to learn; with appropriate teaching methods, dyslexics can learn successfully.

What are the effects of dyslexia?
The impact that dyslexia has is different for each person and depends on the severity of the condition and the effectiveness of instruction or remediation. The core difficulty is with word recognition and reading fluency, spelling, and writing. Some dyslexics manage to learn early reading and spelling tasks, especially with excellent instruction, but later experience their most debilitating problems when more complex language skills are required, such as grammar, understanding textbook material, and writing essays.

People with dyslexia can also have problems with spoken language, even after they have been exposed to good language models in their homes and good language instruction in school. They may find it difficult to express themselves clearly, or to fully comprehend what others mean when they speak. Such language problems are often difficult to recognize, but they can lead to major problems in school, in the workplace, and in relating to other people. The effects of dyslexia reach well beyond the classroom.

Dyslexia can also affect a person’s self-image. Students with dyslexia often end up feeling “dumb” and less capable than they actually are. After experiencing a great deal of stress due to academic problems, a student may become discouraged about continuing in school.

It has been just the last year that I have learned of and started looking into the auditory processing being the basis for dyslexia. I feel this can explain a lot about me. I easily get lost in lengthy conversations. If we are in a heated discussion of any sort my lack for fully understanding/comprehending what you are saying is rather large. This is likely the reason why I cannot listen to two things at once (radio or TV on while having a conversation). I cannot handle loud volumes. If two people are talking I cannot understand either of them. I often have to escape to a quiet place but not because it is causing a headache or pain in my ears but my mind is overwhelmed, over loaded and most are surprised by the low-level of noise it takes to cause me to retreat from all sound.

I just started noticing this… I felt I kept telling people I don’t understand you, I don’t know what it is you are trying to tell me. This brought up feelings of frustration and feeling stupid and that slowly led me in my quiet times trying to figure out what the problem was. Most of my discovery came through research and continued reading on dyslexia. I am in the process of trying to find out why Joshua struggles with some things. And in talking to the dyslexia center and having Joshua take a test with a speech pathologist I began to understand that the way we hear and process sound is a part of dyslexia and so I started to realize some auditory struggles I have.

If any of my kids even have a mild form of dyslexia I want to be on it like butter on a biscuit and get them the tools and help needed. I don’t want them to feel like I did or even come close to any of the struggles I had. There are more tools and help today than there was for me and J and I are blessed to have the financial resources to test or get any help that might be needed.

I often wonder what my education would have looked like if 30 years ago they knew what they know now about dyslexia, had all the tools and trained teachers that there is now…. my parents were supportive, helpful and understanding but like anything else knowing what to do when and having the right tools is crucial not to mention testing is expensive and schools don’t test early enough leaving families to fork over $600+ or wait till there is a huge learning deficit when they school might test without charge. Maybe I would have finished college….maybe the negative chatter in my head would have not been there….who knows. But I enjoy the life I have today and being real about my struggle and how it made me feel is a baby step towards tearing down a wall.


4 Responses to “Dyslexia & Me”

  1. April 10, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    I don’t remember much of my childhood, but one of the few things I do remember is how I treated you based on the difference in our school performance. I know siblings will have rough patches and say/do things they know are hurtful… but that is no excuse for how I made you feel. I don’t remember exactly what I said or did; all I know is that I helped contribute to your negative chatter, and I am truly sorry.

    You are an amazing lady, and I remember always wanting to be like you. In my eyes, everyone loved you and wanted to be your friend and just be around you. I always considered you “the pretty one” out of the three of us, and I remember wishing I looked more like you and less like me. I don’t know the reasons behind the way I treated/talked to you, but I have an inkling that jealousy played a part… and in my head, the one thing I had in which I could outshine you was school…

    This would probably mean more if said face-to-face or even over the phone, but I want you to have a written record, something you can always pick up and read to help combat the negative chatter.

    I love you, Bronwyn… and I wish I had been a better sister to you.

  2. April 11, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    i had typed up another comment. it was great! it was funny and i think it would have made you laugh but it was something that probably would have come off better in an actual conversation. you know, since you can’t read emotion and stuff on a computer it probably would have just sounded snarky and obnoxious… so i’m leaving this comment instead.

    i’m sorry and i love you. i have always loved you even when i didn’t act like it or treat you like it. you have always been there for me and i believe you will always be there no matter what. i’m sure i said and did some things that you play over in your head and can’t let go of. i may have been the one to contribute the most to the tattoos you have in your mind. if you believe mom and dad, they were afraid we would never speak to each other once we moved out of the house. for that i am truly sorry. the last thing i would ever intentionally and knowingly do is hurt you or try to make you feel like less of the truly wonderful person you were and are.

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