Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Only Human on Humpday


Ok this is a new idea for my blog, on the need to hold my identity as a woman and not just a mum I want to write about some of the obstacles I face and how I face them. Sometime this will be deep and meaningful and other times it will be fun and light just depending on what challenges life is presenting me.

Today I want to talk about dyslexia something I face every day and it impacts mostly in little ways but occasionally it can really get me down. So what is dyslexia? most people know it’s a learning problem but not much more. So it’s a learning difficulty with pattern sequencing that mainly affects writing and can affect reading too. It took me ages to learn to tell the time, I found simple addition, times tables things like that a struggle. People have no idea I have this learning issue until I tell them, which is great, I have learnt to manage it but I struggled with it as a child. I did not know I had dyslexia until my late teens, I thought I just wasn’t good at basic things. It was eventually a fantastic teacher who recommended I seek help and have myself tested because he noticed I could grasp really complex concepts quickly and learnt new complicated Latin words but was getting words like control and does wrong. Generally you can always understand what I write as my mistakes are fairly phonetic. I apologise for any spelling errors I make in this blog you must understand sometimes they are typos but mostly they are mistakes and I have no idea I have made them, even if I re read what I’ve written I will not recognise the mistake because my major problem is with sequencing, if I first learnt the pattern of the words wrong then that is how it has stayed in my brain forevermore.

When I was tested I discovered a few things, that dyslexic people are generally very intelligent but they have one area that has a glitch, I have a glitch with patterns but otherwise I did great on the tests. Relief was huge for me, I got the validation I needed I wasn’t stupid as I sometime thought, I had a problem something different to most people. School had been so painful at times when I had spent hours and hours trying to learn spelling only to score 1 or 2 out of 30. One teacher told my mum I must have sight problems that I wasn’t seeing the black board properly; I was disappointed to discover my eyes were fine and the cool pink flowery glasses I had admired at the optometrist would not be mine. Mum took me during one school holiday to a spelling school, they had some great techniques and we both worked so hard but no pay off, I still couldn’t spell. So yeah to find out I had dyslexia was fantastic, not a dummy a dyslexic. A word by the way I struggle to spell cruel and kind of funny isn’t it. I was given extra time in exams at school to spell check and re-read my work (I read slower than the average person too) I was allowed to take in an electronic spell checker and so long as the teachers and examiners could follow what I was writing then I wasn’t marked down in papers for spelling errors.

I have come to discover a bit more about my dyslexia, I read in an art book, “drawing on the right side of the brain” that unlike most people who switch from one side of the brain to the other that dyslexic people are using both side simultaneously, now that’s cool. It explains why I think in pictures, everything is visual to me because my brain has slightly different wiring system to other people. I remember being in English class in year 12 and the teacher asking who was reading the novel we were studying and seeing the story as they read, like a movie, and I was surprised when I was the only student to raise a hand. What the hell was that book like for everyone else, I have no idea must have been boring. Up until that moment I was under the impression that everyone thought in pictures. People learn differently and we all favour one way of learning above others, there are seven different ways of learning.
To discover more about learning styles check out this link, learning styles online, who's chart this is.

So how does this impact me as an adult? well sometimes it has impacted my work, I worked as a bank teller for a while and whilst I was quite good at the job I felt pressure because I was slow with maths, accurate but slow, because I wrote everything down you could always track what I had done but when I took over balancing the safe I found  when it didn’t balance horrifically stressful and any mistakes would take me ages to follow up on and so in the end I changed jobs. It impacted me when I went to name my children some names are just off the list because I could never spell them, like Michael, John and Michelle thankfully these aren’t my style. I have thought I need to start teaching Flynn to read, hmm tricky, I have to be super careful now when I write in front of him as I’d hate for him to learn the words incorrectly off me. I am fearful that my children may have the same learning issues as me, but at least I know to look for signs and I know there are ways of helping dyslexic kids learn. Most of all any troubles they have with school work I will be sympathetic, and they have dad who can step who is an excellent speller and mathematician.

If you want to know more about identifying dyslexia in children go to netplaces, parenting children with dyslexia
If you want some tips on teaching Dyslexic children try some of these, I think this is great reading tips for any child, Dyslexia Parent


If you’re wondering yes I sometimes write letters backwards, especially when really tired. Yes I love, adore, to read it never put me off. Yes it’s possible to do well in school and university despite being dyslexic. And yes you do know of dyslexic people, Walt Disney, Tom Cruise (no it doesn’t explain couch jumping or weird religious tendencies), Whoopi Goldberg, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Cher, Richard Branson and Pablo Picasso just to name a few.
to conclude, thank god for spell check, always write phone numbers down for me or I'll program it into my phone wrong and if you think your child is dyslexic get them tested!!! now i think I'm going to have a cup of coffee.   


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