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What does dyslexia feel like?

It’s only been a matter of weeks since I decided to embrace dyslexia and the freedom I now feel from doing so is ridiculously liberating.

You see I turned 51 years old last October and I had allowed the disability of dyslexia to have power over me all my life. This meant I thought I was stupid. I couldn’t write well and blogging on a wonderful site like this would not have even been a thought.

“What is dyslexia?” I hear you ask, it’s where words on a page just don’t stand still. Again I hear you ask “Stand still? They don’t move, you must be crazy!” Yep that’s how I felt, totally 100% crazy.

As a kid I thought everyone saw what I saw. But when I spoke to my best friend and she said I needed to be locked up and we never really spoke again, that was painful. From best friends one day to her acting like we had never been friends in the first place.

What did I learn from this? Don’t tell anyone or I would get locked up, I was a crazy person.
It wasn’t until after I had my two eldest daughters and at the age of 22 as a conscientious mum, I took my girls for a hearing test, dental visits and then the optometrist. I thought I should get my eyes tested too, but as I tried to read the chart I got stressed and felt like I did in school when being made to read out loud in front of the class.

In school I always vomited when expected to read to the class. I just couldn’t do it, the words would swirl and jump and be moving in waves and all blur together. It just made me so sick. All those eyes watching me, laughing at me as I stumbled over the words and reading words from all different lines; it was so inconsistent with the story.

I felt ashamed, stupid, dumb and many more horrible words. Teachers told me I was lazy and not trying, and if I would spend less time day dreaming and more time concentrating I would learn something and be able to keep up with the class.

Inside this kid from age 7 onwards I was trying, I was listening. I was screaming inside, “Please stop yelling at me, I am trying to understand, I am trying to copy what you are writing on the blackboard. I hate staying in and wrecking your lunchtime and mine. I want to go and play with my friends at recess and lunch, not be stuck in the class room copying down work that I didn’t understand and haven’t finished”.

At home I would cry. What’s wrong with me? Why am I different? I want to fit in with the other kids and I don’t want to make my teacher mad every day. Maybe it would be better if I were not here. My dad would do his best to help me understand but even he sometimes just couldn’t get me to be able to work it out. Then the tears and tantrums would come.

Back when I went to school dyslexia wasn’t really thought of. It was just kids not trying or trying the teacher’s patience. But talking to teachers, headmasters and parents I am seeing not much has changed. Yes they have heard of the word and have some (or I should say very little) idea of what dyslexia is and what happens for the person, who it affects. Is it their fault? No.

I will talk more of the medical states in my next blog. If your child is struggling to read, write and even do math they just might be dyslexic. And before you think they are a freak, it’s hereditary. This means it is passed down through family genes. I spoke to a journalist the other day and they said “Surely parents would know or at worst the teachers?”

But kids don’t know what they don’t know! They only know to tell you what they see when you ask them direct questions and they know they are not in trouble. Remember me telling you about telling my friend and not keeping up in class, being stupid, dumb?

They will tell you if you empower them, if you let them know that you want to help them. If you have no idea what to look for, google search for dyslexia associations in your area. It is a specialist area and I know you want the best for your child, that is why you are here reading these blog posts.

More on the subject next month.
By for now, take care Sandy.

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