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Dyslexia – things that help me.

Every person with Dyslexia is different, with different strengths and weaknesses.
One of my strengths is reading but writing is definitely my weakness, especially the spelling and grammar side of things (you should see how many red squiggly lines come up under words before I correct them all when writing a blog).
So here are something that have helped me, that might help you or your children or people you teach.

1. Predictive text on a cell phone.
I get instant feedback on a device I use everyday on my spelling. Predictive text makes me change the way I spell a word until I get it correct. This means I am actively engaging my brain into finding the correct spelling. Occasionally it drives me mad because I can’t get it right enough for the correct word to come up and I have to ask someone to spell it for me. But its not as often any more.

2. Learning to type (or write) fast enough that I can get my ideas down before they escape from my head.
One of the things I struggle with is that I can come up with a good idea in a well worded way, but I often can’t keep it in my head in that order with all the words long enough to get it onto paper (Often when I was doing group work I would have a good idea or way of writing something say it to the group but when asked to repeat it I couldn’t recall it). I also don’t care too much about spelling or punctuation until I have finished, its just another thing that slows me down and can always be fixed afterwards.

3. Being able to use a computer to do my work.
Sounds really obvious in this day and age but it really helps. Not only does it have a spell check (which I know isn’t fool proof, but makes a huge difference when you really suck at spelling). But I can rearrange my work using copy and paste once I have written it, without having to re write it all. Because one of the other things I find really difficult sometimes is ordering things. The other morning I was about to get on my bike to go to work (I was quite tired) and I was looking down at my hat. scarf, gloves, coat, bike lights (which I attach onto my coat) and reflective gear trying to work out what order I need to put them on in to make it all work. This is a task I do everyday and still occasionally muddle it up badly.

4. Read! Find stuff out
Read blogs, books, magazines etc about grammar. Only now are some of the rules that have puzzled me for years falling into place. Learn about phonics – I am currently teaching children about vowel sound blends, something I was never taught as a child but makes some words so much easier to spell. There is so much information out there, and so much of it sitting in your computer (as long as you have the Internet) If you find reading difficult get one of those programs that read the pages for you, I’m pretty sure some are free.

5. Keep trying even when its hard.
Keep practising! One of the reasons I started this blog was to help me improve my writing, spelling and grammar. I’m pretty sure it is working, it has made me more aware of what I do and more interested in trying to change it. My friends are used to me chatting online with bad spelling, mixed up words and no punctuation so for quite a while I made no effort to change what I was doing. Writing for an audience who cares about such things and doesn’t know me means I try and make my work as clear and easy to read as possible (not quite sure I always succeed but bonus points for trying?).

5 the world is your puzzle.
Enjoy the fact you think differently, come up with crazy and zany ways to remember things, use patterns to help you, use your whole body to help you. If you ask me for a phone number, code, or any string of numbers that I use often, watch my hands often I will act out typing the numbers in, or tap them in a rhythm. If I read you out a number I don’t know well I break it down into groups of 2, often covering up the other numbers so I can’t switch them around. Ask me anything to do with left or right and I will look at my hands trying to work out which one makes an L (note this is not the best way to teach a dyslexic child which way is which, it took me years to work which of the Ls was backwards and which was forwards and even sometimes now I struggle to tell).

But most of all, have fun and enjoy being you!

What helps you over come things that you struggle with? What is it you try to improve yourself?

On a side note I do love that the word blog comes up with a red squiggly line underneath it on here. A website designed for blogging has it spell checker think that its spelt wrong.

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2 Comments

Dyslexia

I have just read about what its like to receive an asperger diagnosis as an adult and found it really interesting.
It made me think about myself and my lack of diagnosis for dyslexia. Which I am certain I have but have never got diagnosed as its expensive and I don’t currently have a use for it.
But I would like to tell about how I got here, and what it was like growing up not knowing.
When I was younger I had no idea at all, I remember clearly waiting in line fore the teacher to look at my writing watching the children in front of me have their work read easily by the teacher and only a few spelling corrections made. Then it was my turn, I had written less than half of what they had and I needed to read it to the teacher as she couldn’t make sense of the jumble of letters I had put down. The teacher was fantastic she never made me feel less for my work, however I could see what other children in my class could do and knew mine wasn’t anywhere near as good. I felt stupid, it was gutting. My parents had talked to my teachers numerous times about my writing and asked if their was anything that could be done they were assured I was doing fine and was a bright child, which was usual at the time as dyslexia was not acknowledged by the government and teachers were not taught how to pick it up. This carried on throughout my schooling and though I heard the term dyslexia I thought it mostly applied to reading and I was good at reading and loved it, even though the words on the page would often move around on me and I would have to re read things when they didn’t make sense, along with not being able to sound tricky words out I had a system where I just recognised them as a word that starts with ___ and looks long with lots of up pointy bits and would work out the meaning for out of context, which meant I didn’t recognise them when I heard them aloud (I also had many other weird ways of doing things to make the words readable, most of which I didn’t know weren’t normal). I think the reason I could read so well is that from when I was born I was read to so much by all the adults around me that I couldn’t help but love books and stories. English in high school was hard but I enjoyed many of the topics just found it frustrating when trying to show what I knew. University was even harder and I found myself failing a science paper twice even though I had put a lot of effort into learning the material, along with spending long hours writing assignments trying to get the information out of my head and onto paper, before it disappeared or scrambled. Towards the end of my time at university I decided to find out what dyslexia was as I my Mum had mentioned a few times that I probably had it and it was making things hard for me. So I looked it up on the internet and to start off with didn’t find that much but I kept looking and reading and finally found a few websites with more detailed informations. I looked through the long lists of symptoms and realised that it was so much more than bad spelling and reading. I started to realise that I wasn’t stupid, or going mad like I had thought on occasion my brain just worked differently and that so many of the things I had struggled with were just part of being dyslexic. Suddenly my world made sense, I made sense to myself. I told a few people, my family went yeah, so, what’s new? then didn’t really want to hear any more about it, a few friends didn’t believe me and a few more didn’t seem to see why I thought that this was important. But to me it was huge suddenly things started making sense and I could understand myself more. Since then I have been talking with one of my work colleagues whose daughter is dyslexic and has been receiving help through her schooling about many of the weird things that she does and that I do or have tricks to get around it. One of the weirdest ones was that for a while her daughter kept turning around or would look off to the side because she kept seeing movement out of the corner of her eye, turns out it was part of the dyslexia. I have that too, only I never knew what it was so when I was young and ghost stories were in fashion I figured I must be seeing ghost out of the corner of my eyes and they would disappear when ever I tried to see them properly and have been terrified of ghosts most of my life. Still slightly scared and believe in them but am not quite so terrified any more.
Its not such a big deal now, I do still find lots of things frustrating and feel like I am going mad, but at least I know why and have some strategies to help. I try and practise things that I know I am weak at writing this blog is one of them, word puzzles are another to try and learn things that will help me in the long run. I laugh when I manage to rearrange words in a sentence while speaking, I point instead of saying left or right, along with thousands of other tricks and odd things I do to pretend to be normal, and occasionally I say I’m dyslexic to explain they way that I am. It may be frustrating at times but it makes me who I am.