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The Blessings of Being Dyslexic
What is Dyslexia?
The term "dyslexia" was introduced in 1884 by the German ophthalmologist, R. Berlin.He spoke of "word-blindness". Dyslexia is not a disease so there is no cure. You are born with it.
This morning in our office my partner Robin suddenly started laughing. I wondered why and looked over his shoulder at his computer screen. The image on Facebook made me smile.
Sometimes I forget how to spell a word so I change the whole sentence to avoid using it.
That was so like me. I’ve done that so often as wrote my first novel. I especially laughed as well after I read all the comments. Apparently I’m not alone.
Grammar & Spelling
Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher, scientist and artist, stressed repeatedly that grammar should not be taught in an abstract way but should be developed in a living way from language itself. He explained how to teach verbally the written words like; past, future and the present Instead of a blank screen what image can one put to these words?
Here is a lovely, pictorial explanation by Leonardo da Vinci which leads to an ‘Aha’ experience for dyslexics.
"If you put your hand in a flowing river, you have just touched the last thing which is the past and the first thing that is about to come.The present moment is the same."
This made the words visible for me.
Famous People with Dyslexia
Famous people in the world, like Albert Einstein and Walt Disney were also dyslexic and employed secretaries to do their correspondence. I was already married with kids when I discovered that many famous people were, like me, dyslexic.
I wish I had known about these well known people when I was still in school! I hope that teachers today tell their students that being diagnosed with dyslexia is not the end of their lives.
All the years of learning to write, first in Dutch and the much later in English took a great deal of effort. To be told (several times over the years) that I will never be able to write only triggered me to prove them wrong. It must be the same for when people are told they will never walk.
When people tell me that my English is full of grammatical errors, especially while typing in a forum or on a cell phone, little do they know how that can still trigger me emotionally. Texting in communication devices correctly is still a challenge for me, because I cannot edit spontaneous replies or questions. People can be so arrogant and unkind when they interpret these errors as the person being uneducated, and then to be told to only focus on other skills instead. That is EGO-mode advice. Our Ego's will reluctantly venture into learning a skill they are not good at, only our Higher-self, our Soul will push us to overcome debilitating obstacles.
The Different levels of Dyslexia
I have always had trouble with p, q, d and b. and like some famous people my problem was spelling! At school I always read at my appropriate reading level, but when asked to read aloud in class I was terrible and would be laughed at. My self esteem was low, especially when I was kept back one class and I ended up in my younger sister’s class. I would often play a game with my sister, to write a word down so you could only read it in the mirror, since I was good at it.
Today I still make many mistakes while typing! Auto correct helps but I do not always catch my mistakes. My partner is my editor!
Can Dyslexia be a Blessing?
All I can reply to that question is that it made me work a lot harder to excel in other things instead of writing. The reasons were in order to hide the fact that I could not spell for toffee, but it also kept me from being prideful. Today I feel that obstacles, like rejections, do not scare me as much anymore. Compared to others who experience obstacles and therefore give up far too easily, my blessing is that I keep at it until I reach my goals.
Today I can laugh at it. I learned skills that I never would have mastered if I were not dyslexic. Seeing pictures in my mind of the object I need to describe by using words is what so confused me as a child. I hated school with a passion! I found it hard to concentrate for long, compared to other children.
I had no problem with math at school, but I could never show the teacher how I got to my answer on paper. The result was that she accused me of stealing the correct answer. All I remember was that I was often frustrated, angered, or very annoyed.
It was years later that I discovered that I had unusual abilities in design and creativity, and I was very good at spatial visualization tasks.
Hiding Having a Learning Disorder
Over the years I found ways to hide my disability by avoiding writing. If I had to write a note to the school teacher because one of my children were to be absent due to a cold, or for any other reason, I often asked my clever daughter to write it down so I could copy what she wrote.
Before the use of computers I used to write some words, like the number eight, inside my hand just in case I had to write out a check that had the number eight in it. Somehow I could never remember how ‘eight’ was spelled when I needed to write it down. Thank goodness that I never have to do that anymore. Handing over a bank card is a lot less stressful.
What also worked for me was mentally seeing a large sale sign in a supermarket. I would add the word that stood for a product, or the name of a product to this sign to see if I could come up with the correct spelling.
Is Dyslexia Inherited?
Scientists aren’t really sure what causes dyslexia. What inspired me to become a nurse was so I might find out what the cause was. Both my children have not inherited it from me, and my parents were not dyslexic. Perhaps the crossed wiring where the right side of the brain has to take on the job in language usually handled by the left side might be true because I think in pictures. I’ve read that it is a linguistic processing problem that affects the ability to process phonologic and graphic symbols, which is what reading, writing is all about, but I’m not so sure about numbers. I never was all that dyslexic when it came to numbers. I was determined to read, because I wanted to find out what people learned from reading. Today reading is almost an addiction. I read fast probably due to me skipping over the words that have no imagery.
More Tips for writers with Dyslexia
A lot more people with some form of dyslexia are now coming ‘out of the closet’ so to speak. When I meet them I give them all kinds of tips that I learned over the years.
As publishers and distributors in South Africa we have read and distributed this great book about Dyslexia. This particular book gives a more neutral description of picture-thinker characteristics. How children and school teachers can learn a great deal about how a picture-thinker's brain works.
The book explains why some children seem to be fine when the paper they write on is of a different color, like green or yellow. It is a valuable resource for parents or teachers.
Tips for dyslexics
When a word has a red line under it I go completely blank, but when I type my version of a word into Google, it often picks up the correct spelling! If that does not work I cut and paste my whole sentence into Google and that works most of the time. Google will suggest the correct sentence, like “Do you mean....?”
Then in my case English being a second language, I also need a Grammar Checker.
Today this learning disorder is being diagnosed and understood a lot earlier in schools than in my day, during the fifties. I never had the opportunity to have special tuition, but with the use of electronic technology many people that would never have had the opportunity to write have now, like me, been given the opportunity to type down experiences and stories that are screening past our minds like movies. We can paint our images with words.
Thank you for reading and I will end this post with a visualization video that is meant to stimulate mental creativity like seeing visions.