Why don’t you get tested to see if you are dyslexic?
A question posed to me earlier this year, but it came as a curveball. Out of the blue. Something I had never considered. Indeed, something I knew little about.
Two years ago, my daughter was diagnosed as living with dyslexia. Bright, intelligent, hardworking and dedicated to her education, she was struggling. Meetings with the school and extra support did little to help. There were occasional rebellious actions. We were frustrated the school was not doing enough. Dyslexia was never mentioned, so, in desperation, we privately arranged a test. Diagnosis dyslexic and dyscalculia. Knowing is half the battle.
Skip forward a year. I am doing the same test. Initial consultation was online. Mainly questions to gather background information and potential indicators. Outcome? A likelihood of being dyslexic.
The first assessment consisted of a virtual consultation and a series of online tests. On the assumption that a high probability of being dyslexic qualifies as a pass, I passed.
To get a full diagnosis, there are a more comprehensive series of tests. Up to two hours of tests. I opted to undertake this consultation physically as opposed to virtually. Just my preference. There were a lot of tests. By the end, I was exhausted. But it was an exercise I had to go through.
Two weeks later, I received a full written report confirming I was dyslexic. On reflection, things have fallen into place and make more sense.
Following my daughter being diagnosed, I began to learn more about dyslexia. I could see many traits in her. But self-refection is not something I have done particularly well, so never saw them in myself. Now, with more knowledge, it is obvious.
For nearly fifty years, I’ve dealt with my dyslexia without even knowing it. But it does explain why I do so many things the way I do. It is also what has made me the person I am today. I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished. Now, I can reflect on how much I have achieved. I believe the need to put so much hard work into everything I do has paid dividends. It’s tiring though and has brought frustration.
But knowing does help explain a few things.
Writing with dyslexia
I enjoy writing. It forms quite a bit of my work. I prepare many reports and write letters. Yes, some people still use snail mail and not just email. I have my own writing style. I write the way I read. Vocabulary range is limited, sentences short. Concise and to the point. Why use two words when you can use one?
My reports are rather good. Direct and focused. Getting to the point and delivering the message most efficiently. Colleagues comment positively on them. It is a skill I’ve honed over many years. It works for me. It works for my employer.
What many people don’t appreciate is the length of time it takes or the amount of effort I have to put into my writing. Sometimes there is procrastination. How do I even start? But this is a symptom of my dyslexia. I overcome this by creating a bullet point content list. I also use mind-mapping techniques and software.
I recall when I was at school that I struggled with English. My teachers always told me that I needed to apply myself better. Probably. Although now, I understand that what I probably needed was a little more support.
Now I’m writing a blog, I feel I’m putting more into my creative writing. And, I guess this blog is reflective of my writing style.
Reading with dyslexia
Likewise, I enjoy reading and books. But reading also gives me challenges.
Biographies, rather than fiction, tend to be my mainstay. I find them more interesting. They give me a glimpse into people’s lives. Business or sports biographies are most appealing and because these books captivate me, I can easily read a book in a weekend.
Fiction, by the nature of the book, takes longer to tell the story. The reader must understand the text and create the pictures in their mind. This brings enjoyment to the reader. But not for me. It’s a challenge to interpret the text and keep track of the story. I often forget the previous text and either need to re-read text or revisit previous pages or chapters.
I find small text size and justified text more difficult to read. I have always encouraged colleagues to use the RNIB guidelines. Subconsciously, if people write using a decent text size and a sans serif font style, it helps me to read.
Reading takes me longer as I need to digest the text. Sometimes I need to read things twice or more times. When I am presented text and asked to read it immediately, I struggle to do so. Contracts and legal stuff take time. This is a particular problem when, in a meeting, I’m presented with a report or paper which is for immediate discussion. I just can’t read it quickly enough to be involved in the discussion.
I’ve worked hard to overcome these challenges and, I believe, done so pretty well.
There are several other quirks which I’ve taught myself over the years. I detest long emails. I prefer bullet points rather than paragraphs. I don’t like ‘pointless’ emails – ones that just say ‘thanks’ or similar. Microblogs such as Twitter help me due to the limitations on characters and get the message across succinctly. I tend to only read headlines and the first paragraph, so if that doesn’t get the message across, I usually read no further. Letters I write tend to be fewer than three or four paragraphs.
I’ve worked hard to overcome the challenges I never knew I had. My assumption was this was just how it was. When I struggled at school, I was told that I must try harder. When I undertook presentation and public speaking training, I was criticised for my diction. When I couldn’t remember names, I just put it down to forgetfulness. I struggle to read out loud or in public. When I’m asked to edit text, I tend to rewrite it into my style.
Unbeknown to me all of these are challenges of dyslexia. But I’m learning more about myself and the techniques I have used to overcome them.
As I continue my adventure, I do so with a greater understanding of dyslexia, how I have adapted and the knowledge I’ll need to work harder to achieve my end goals.
However, I’m a little anxious my dyslexia will affect my ability to learn Portuguese, but it will come down to determination and hard work.
Last word to Princess Beatrice, “Dyslexia is not a pigeonhole to say you can’t do anything. It is an opportunity and a possibility to learn differently. You have magical brains, they just process differently. Don’t feel like you should be held back by it.”
Obrigado pela sua ajuda.
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