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I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

D is for Dyslexia

Dyslexia: dys, from Middle English dis meaning bad, difficult, from Middle French and Latin dis, from Latin dys, from Greek; akin to Old English to or te meaning apart and Sanskrit dus meaning bad or difficult, + lexis Greek for word, speech.

Be warned, I am dyslexic, though midlly compared to some. I'm going to give you a visual. I'm not a great speller and I make typos, mostly reversing letters (as in mildly above) and I sometimes confuse letters as in g for c because I mis-hear them in my head. I am not going to correct the mistakes, which is difficult for me not to do. I'm used to editing as I go. This is also rather soul bearing (baring? See, I'd have to stop and look it up.)

My mother realized early on there was something different about me, that I didn't learn the same way my sister did. Erva, who is more like our father in the brain department, thrived on studying and tests. She made straight "A's" and went to college on scholarship. Mom, brilliant woman that she was, realized it would not be a good thing to put us in the same school. She didn't want me to be compared to my sister and thus avoided alot of sibling rivalry.

I struggled in school. Math was particularly hard. I still do not know all my times-tables. Numbers just do not stay in my head. They dissapate like fog. I can do your basic stuff; add, subtract; multiply and divide, but anywhere in the process I can flip two numbers and come up with a wrong answer.

I worked hard for the grades I got, making a good solid B average (math never got above a C) and somehow came in 6th in my glass (er class.) But, through no fault of my own I lost two years of school, graduating 12 days before I turned 20. So by that time I was so sick of school I had no interest in going on to college.

Another area that has always frustrated me is music. I have a good ear. I used to sing pretty darn well (I sang in a jazz trio for a while.) But I've never been able to learn to read music, much as I would like to. Those little black dots on those lines don't make sense. It's like they move around. It's for certainly I can't tell a quarter note from an eighth from a whole note. Sign (sigh.)

Luckily dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence or creativity.

I'm in good company. A few mafous (famous) dyslexics are:
Leonardo da Vinci, George Washington, Tom Cruise, Jewel, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, John Lennon, Sir Winston Churchill, Whoopy Goldberg, Thomas Jefferson.

As for authors who couldn't sepll (spell) there's, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, William Butler Yeats, Hans Christian Anderson, Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allen Poe, Agatha Christy, Mark Twain....

You can read about others here and here. You will note that dyslexia seems to be more of a mlae (male) thing than female.

We are simply wired differently.


  1. Our brains--so amazing! I suspect I have a very mild form of dyslexia. it does not bother me,and I waste very little time on it it, but it makes for humor in the office. Numbers trip me up (words--no problem, whatsoever). I am infamous for getting faxes wrong--no one allows me to prepare fax cover sheets because I will get the fax numbers transposed somewhere about 80% of the time (but, then, that's what you have staff for anyway, right?). I've tried to "watch it," but there's just something amiss in my brain with this. I was a high-achiever--good grades, great test scores--I could do math but, man! I had to grit my teeth and WORK at it. I also suspect I'm ADD, but suspect that is true of most lawyers because we multi-task all day long. Great post. You are in great company and, remember, we ALL have our little brain quirks! I just try to accept me and smile about it. C

  2. I've recently read a story about a dyslexic boy who could see a ghost. It was so well written that I could feel his struggle. I can't think of the name of the book at the moment. It was great. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Thanks Bish! I've worked with many brilliant dyslexics and your right - one has nothing to do with the other. As to the spelling thing, that actually has little to do with it either :D Many brilliant non-spellers too :D

  4. I am so glad that dyslexia is an identifiable issue now. That kids are able to get help when they are very young and can learn ways around and through. It is so outrageous when they are slid to the back of the room and ignored.
    I was a cour reporter for many years, and still think in shorthand. It has caused me to have terrible spelling. I know people just roll their eyes at some of the stuff I've written, but I have to say, I also don't notice it in others!

  5. As a retired English teacher I can recall meeting a few students with dyslexia. I hope I showed enough patience with them, helped them adequately, gave them enough encouragement to keep going...

    Thanks for this sensitive introspection.

  6. Hurray for your mom for recognizing your unique differences!
    Thanks for sharing, Bish!
    (And I have to say, some of the typos I didn't even catch until you pointed them out!)

  7. I'm number dylexic. If you tell me numbers, I have a hard time writing them down unless you say them slowly. I could never work in a call centre like Visa. I'd drive everyone crazy, asking them to repeat themselves like a hundred times.

  8. Stroke of genius on Mom's behalf --

    My best creative writers are extraordinarily familiar with the spell check on their word processors and generally loathe math and numbers.

    Must be some kind of connecction we don't see yet in education (in general) b/c most teachers see it in the classroom.

  9. Your mom sounds like a true hero: she lets you name yourself and then makes a decision about your schooling that was probably unusual.

    I've heard of so many people with dyslexia struggling through school and wonder why there couldn't be learning environment that makes it easier for them.

  10. The brain is so facsinating and I love to see that you still choose to write though it may be harder for you during revision times! It's great to see that you don't let something stand in your way it shows how great of a person you are with all the strength you have! It actually makes me think of my MC just how strong she must be to overcome quite a hurdle and here I see you have already overcome the battle now you choose to take the time to fix everything!!

    Bish you are inspirational!

  11. Yat-Yee, my mom even figured out that I'm an audio/tactile learner. She was way ahead of the times. As far as schools go, I don't know why dyslexic children aren't helped as much as they could be. They can learn, they just learn differently.

    Oh thanks Jen. And my dyslexia isn't really severe. I knew a man whose parents put him in an institution because they thought he was mentally retarded! He was just severely dyslexic. He went on to make a fortune.

  12. Great post, Bish. I know in the past there was a lot of misunderstanding about dyslexia and today I think a lot of it still exists - although schools seem much better at identifying it and gets specialists in to help the kids.

    You mum sounds like a very intelligent woman!

  13. Great post and kudos to you for working hard at school. I always felt grades meant more depending on the effort you put towards them too. (And I hear you with math, I've always had trouble with it)

  14. Your mom is wonderful. There are so many different ways of learning and not every child fits the standard. I see that you keep very good company. Our dear friend, Mel Boring, was also dyslexic ... he had started to write a little memoir about this before he passed away.

  15. Beautiful. I enjoyed this very much. You are an amazing writer.

    Short Poems

  16. Oh wow--this was very soul bearing. I'm so glad you shared this. It's something I'm always aware of with my students. When I'm in the classroom, I always am on the lookout for how differently children think. Even in high school, many kids aren't identified as dyslexic, ADD, or as having poor eyesight (for example), and I watch them closely to see if there's anything they need or I can help with. But I often forget about that when I'm outside the classroom. Thank you for reminding me that thousands of people have dyslexia and other learning disabilities and that the things I take for granted are often difficult for them. It's something that I blithely ignore too often.

  17. I'm so glad you persevered and made it through school. Thanks for sharing! And I hated math, too. It did NOT come easy to me at all, but all the teachers expected me to be a whiz at it because my sister was (is) a genius in the subject. Oh well. I love to write most of all, so it's all good. ;)

  18. wow! very interesting. You're an inspiration.

  19. Thanks Creepy. I'm lucky my parents accepted "Bs" as being good. I hear there are some parents who think a "B" isn't good enough.

    Vijaya, I didn't realize Mel was dyslexic too! Sweet!

    Thanks Marinela!

    Beth, bless you for keeping an eye out for those wierd kids.

    You and me BJ...with the math whiz sisters! I hope yours helped you like mine helped me.

    Oh Christy! Thanks. (blushes)

  20. Darn! I was going to tell you about Walt Disney and Poe, but you already knew.

    I have a good friend that has dyslexia and she's beautifully brilliant. ;)

  21. I'm sure dyslexia is part of the reason I've had problems with school. Fortunately, life hasn't been as hard.

    Thanks, Bish, for sharing your story. The others are right, your mom's a true hero.

  22. Love this post, Bish! Oh, the memories.

    I cannot be trusted with a touchtone phone. VERY often I misdial. After spending years (and being deadly accurate without looking at the keys) on an adding machine, I fail on the phone because only the center row of numbers on a phone keypad are in the "right" place.

    I wonder what genius decided to mess up accountants when the touchtone phone was created!


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