Sunday, June 17, 2007


I was writing some letters to find review sites for Calderwood Books. I have to run them through the spell checker because I'm a terrible speller. When I concentrate, I can usually spell most words right. Some I can never get right, so I avoid them. Mideival is one. I write it at least three ways before giving up and putting in Middle Ages. I have LOTS of words on my 'can never spell' list. And yet, I look the word up. I will spell it right by accident, then delete it because it doesn't look right. But I can't remember it.
I also can't tell my left from my right. I'm clumsy, bang into things a lot, and although I speak French, I'll never learn to write it. I'm dyslexic. It runs in the family. My mother can't tell her left from her right, and my daughter is so dylexic she didn't learn to read until she was 7, and she had to go to an orthophonist to learn to 'see' the difference between a d and a b. It was slow going. At first, she was at the bottom of her class. The school had a special teacher come in twice a week to work with her for almost two years, and her teachers only gave her half the amount of homework the other kids got. And yet, no one ever scolded her or told her she was 'slow'. We explained to her what dyslexia was, and told her she had to learn to live with it. She did, and now she's third in her class and has excellent grades. She's doing so well, we're thinking of putting her in a more challenging school. She wants to be a veterinarian. We're very proud of her. She worked hard and it paid off. She never got discouraged, and her teachers were all great and encouraged her to do her best.
My dyslexia never kept me from reading, although it does hamper my spelling, and if I meet a new word it takes me a while to get used to it. The best thing to happen to me as a kid was to be crazy about dinosaurs. Sounding out and then memorizing their long names helped tame my fear of multi-syllable words. I was never very good at sports - for some reason I can never catch a ball. I'm not great in math. I turn left when someone says 'go right!' and it took me years to catch the notion of 'early' VS 'late'. Time really does have no meaning for me. My most important helpers are my watch, my calendar, and my weekly planner. I use color-coded stickers, and yet I'm always forgetting what day it is, and when my friends invite me for lunch, they know they have to call me in the morning to make sure I don't forget. I didn't forget, I just don't know what day it is!
Weekends are the only times I feel like I can relax. There's no school, no schedule, no lessons, no lunches. And yet, I love having a full schedule. The more I do, the more energy I have. But sometimes I wish I could be organized. I wish I could put everything in neat piles, fold clothes (I can't fold clothes) and just organize my house. I know where everything is, but it looks like a rat's nest. But I am incapable of organizing my space. Dyslexia, for me, means having no concept of left-right, up-down, straight or crooked. I have three calendars on my desk, a yearly, a weekly, and a monthly. And I still get things wrong. Last week I arrived at the dentist a day early. (At least it wasn't a day late!)
Anyway, For those without dyslexia, it must be frustrating to deal with us sometimes. My husband mostly laughs it off, but he can't understand how I can get lost going somewhere I've been at least thirty times before. My sons can't understand how I can always be late picking them up from school. We don't do it on purpose. I look at my watch and see 'quarter to' instead of 'quarter past'.
Which reminds me - time to go to the pony club picnic! I'm riding today and my daughter is already mortified, just sure I'll fall off and humiliate her. I will be sure to get pictures if I do!


Bernita said...

I'm only mildly dyslexic, so I have to blame my mis-spellings on sheer haste and carlessness - but I always have to stop and think which way is left and which is right.

Rhian / Crowwoman said...

mine usually flairs up when i'm stressed and then i totally mess up numbers. For some reason the problem with hearing one thing and writing another is getting worse as i get older - i mess up phone numbers constantly, even after repeating the number back to someone - there's a disconnect somewhere in my head. Words are less of a problem but there are still words i can never get right.
I can recall struggling with the left/right thing as a teen and how embarrassing it was. I developed a visual trick to remind myself which is which, and rarely have the problem anymore - unless i'm trying to tell someone across from me to turn to THEIR right or left - then i'm screwed.

Verilion said...

I'm completely useless at the left/right thing, I posted about it too a wee while ago when something I read annoyed me. Sounds like your daughter had a better experience with school than some. Still, I don't know, adds a bit of spice to life.
On the trip I was on last week one of the instructors asked if all the kids knew their left from right. "Cos there are a surprising number who don't." He said as I was holding out my hand just to check what was left and what was right.

Bonita said...

Dyslexia runs in my Mother's family. I have only a mild form (with the inability to distinguish left from right, transposing numbers, and not being able to spell). My daughter has a more severe case (but not as horrible as many in our family). Until fourth grade she really struggled until I was able to take over with her special tudoring. She graduated in the top 5% of her high school class and with a 4 year degree in 2 and 1/2 years with a 3.5 GPA at University. Others in my family have never been able to read, although they are extremely bright and can respond orally with the correct answers to tests, etc.

Rosie said...

No dyslexia for me, but as I was reading your post I was thinking how frustrating it must be to realize you mix things up and work so hard to keep things straight and know that sometimes it will still get messed up.

You know I already admire your boundless energy and the incredible number of things you seem to juggle with grace. As difficult as this must be for you sometimes, I just want you to know that you are one cool chick!

Seeley deBorn said...

It's wonderful that your daughter's school was so supportive of the situation. It's amazing what kids can do with the right kind of support.

I'm not dyslixic, but I sure am clumsy. And despite the fact that I only wear rings on one hand, have a tattoo there in case the rings aren't, I still can't figure which one is the left without actually thinking about it. The words are completely interchangable in my head. Unfortunately, I have to navigate when The Man drives. I say "my side" and "your side" to tell him which way to turn.

And I can not type environemtnal

Sam said...

Bernita, I only know a couple people with the left - right problem. In my family, it runs in the women, not the men. Rather odd, I think, as dyslexia is prevailent in boys.
Rhian - numbes dyslexia is rare and very annoying. I have to dial all my telephone numbers twice.
Verillion - My daughter had a very good experience after she was diagnosed. Before, she was very frustrated. She simply couldn't learn to read.
Bonita - special tutoring is a must, I think, with dyslexia. I know my daughter bloomed under her tutoring, and I'll always be grateful to the school for getting her help.
Rosie - Thank you!
Seeley - You may be slightly dyslexic. It comes in as many shades as blue, lol. And environmental is a hard one to type. Another one that took me ages was disappearance. LOL
I kept putting two 's's in.

December/Stacia said...

It's amazing you're a writer with're an amazing person.

I don't have any way to explain my disorganization. It's just laziness, sadly. :-)

I have a few words I can never spell. Rhythm, ecstacy, wierd...I have a hard time with "occasion" because I used to drive by a florist who had it misspelled as "ocassion"...even knowing it was wrong, I drove by it so many times and noticed it every time, that now it looks odd to me spelled either way (see how I avoided saying "weird"? Because I never know how to spell it.)

Camille said...

Wow...I think that we have the same life, Sam.

I'm about to get fired from my job because I keep transposing numbers, even when I check and check again. I just CAN'T see what I'm doing wrong.

When I was young, I used to be a masterful speller. However, since I've gotten older my spelling has gotten much, much worse.

I can't tell my left from my right. I get lost every time I go somewhere. My boyfriend is amazed at this. He's like, "But you've BEEN THERE BEFORE!" He doesn't yell...lucky for me.

He actually found this site for me, and told me to look at it to see if any of it sounded familliar. When I read your blog, I was flabbergasted!

Like...all of this stuff is related? The being terrible with directions? The transposing numbers? The attempting to keep as organized as I can (it seems that I'm more organized then most people) but still making stupid mistakes???? The fact that if someone tells me to turn right, I have to actually remember "the one that makes the "L" is left...the one that doesn't make the "L" is right..."

Wow...where does one even start as an adult with dyslexia?

I hope there is help.

Anonymous said...

FYI, I am not dyslexic.

It seems to me that many people mix up numbers, not just dyslexics. One thing I do not like about the way we write numbers is the "place value": how switching around two digits of a number makes it a different number. If I were inventing a way to write numbers, the symbols for the ones' place of a number would be different from the symbols for the tens' place. This, I think, would fix the problem for you.

Many features of a computer can be customized. In some software, numbers can be displayed in different forms. Also, software exists for people with various disabilities. What I would do for dyslexics is invent a numeral system which uses different symbols for ones' and tens' digits, then set the software to display numbers in that form. (I wonder what system for writing numbers a dyslexic would invent.)

As for the quarter-to versus quarter-past thing: I would recommend you use a digital watch, but then you might have a different problem...
Also, do you have a calendar watch? If you keep getting mixed up about what day it is, you should definitely shell out for one.