Wednesday, 16 October 2013

It's Dyslexia Awareness Week.

I've been diagnosed with Dyslexia 3 times in my life. Once when I was very young, once as a teen and then again at University in order to receive various support.

Most people are surprised to learn of my Dyslexia. Dyslexia Awareness challenges the misunderstanding of what Dyslexia actually is and how it effects different people. It's a SpLD (Specific Learning Disability), so a relative of Dyspraxia, ADHD and Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The diagnosis is essentially an IQ test that shows up symptoms of all SpLDs, and sufferers have overlapping symptoms. Dyslexia in particular is characterised predominately by difficulty reading and writing, this everyone knows. But the key point is that it's a difficulty despite normal intelligence. It's about a discrepancy. So, for example, my reading and writing skills are actually within the national average (they were below as a child), but I have higher function in other areas. Through support, technology and passion, I've "overcome" Dyslexia, for the most part.

What I've always wondered is this... Where does my variation as a human mind end and Dyslexia begin? I don't know if I just have a higher awareness of my brain's inability to do certain things because I have a label, or if most people simply are pretty average at everything.

Right now, I'm battling with the glare of my monitor screen, which is scoptic sensitivity, a SpLD symptom, along with audio stress, causing irritation and extreme distraction by sounds. I also find it hard to juggle information in my head or digest information quickly enough, as if I've not enough RAM installed. My reading speed is slow and unless I am particularly interested in the content, it will not sink in no matter how many times I go through it. I tend to skim read, assume what things say and miss important details because of this, my eyes jumping back and forth along a line to try and get the general gist of a sentence. Beyond counting of amounts, maths is terrifying and feels like completely pointless stress that everyone else deems as essential to life as breathing. I subtract by adding from the smaller amount, that seems logical to me. I find it difficult to remember even essential stuff and doubt myself, double checking that I've got something like a train timetable correct multiple times. I can't retain a phone number long enough to write it down, and my brain often reads digits wrong as if it panicked and just made something up to hide that fact.

Do "normal people" really not experience any phenomena similar to this?

Despite my, what I'd call "poor" short term memory skills, I actually score only a low average. So, it gets a tonne worse than I experience. But it's about discrepancy, remember. My "perceptual organisation" skills are in the top 1% of the population. In other words, I'm really, really good at that red and white block test. A symptom usually associated with Autism. I'm so good at it, in fact, that the tester had never seen anyone do it so fast before.

Though in my head, I can't fathom how anyone would find this difficult. And this is the problem with Dyslexia Awareness. It's not a lacking awareness of Dyslexia that is the problem here, it's failure to see that we are all different, and we could all do with being a little more understanding and supportive of that fact.

I've edited this post several times to fix errors. But I'm sure there are more. Errors that I don't see for ages.

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