i have never been diagnosed with dyslexia. officially. mostly because of not having insurance for so long, and perhaps not really feeling the need to be tested. i know i am dyslexic. its been enough to learn about it and understand it. it would have been nice to know when i was in school.
when i was in grade school, not much was known about dyslexia. at least, i never heard about it. so i had no way of knowing why i had trouble with things others didnt. piano lessons, for example. my mother bought me a piano one year, and surprized me with it. i was excited about it. i was enrolled in my school’s piano classes right away. so every day i went and sat with the nun who taught music, and she tried to teach me to read sheet music. i understood the principal easily. the notes on the sheet told you what keys to play, how fast, how loud, with what timing. if only the notes didnt jump around on the paper … and the keys on the piano didnt move back and forth. my solution to this was to put my finger on the page, breaking up the lines and spaces where the notes were, and counting out the spaces to determine what each note was. then i played it, but i had to look at the keys to play the right ones. after much work i learned the song. then i could play it with my soul. but i could not set a new sheet of music in front of me, read it and play it like every one else. i could, however, pick out songs by ear. the work involved in learning a song was so taxing i lost interest in playing. practice was grueling as well, because i had to look at the keys, and repeated the same mistakes over and over. i cant type without looking either.
in junior high i took a speed reading class , where licsence plates, telephone numbers, and similar things were flashed on the wall rapid fire, and we were to write down as much of each number as we could. i was totally confused how all the other kids were writing anything. the items were gone before i was able to see what they were. i was sorry i ever took that class. in high school i took shorthand as an elective, and did quite well. ironic that writing and composition are among my best subjects.
these kinds of things were my bane for years. when i went into the job corps, there were only four options to choose from, all traditional ‘female’ career choices. food service, which i had no interest in whatsoever. nursing, which i didnt think i had the stomach for. clerical, which i thought i would fail. and child care, which im totally not right for, but chose because it was all that was left. truth is, im much better suited for the two choices i thought were beyond me. while i was there, i got my GED, since i had left school after tenth grade, but i struggled with that too. there was a teacher there that really helped me, especially with algebra. i got high scores, and was happy just to pass.
after more of these kinds of experiences than i have time or room to detail, i finally discovered something one day, quite by accident. i was in the office of my apartment complex in seattle, as i was friends with the office manager. she had on her desk several stacks of quarters from the laundry room. but was it four stacks? or five? i could not tell. it looked like both, alternating from one to the other. so i touched them, and then i could see she had, i think it was four stacks. point is, i had to tough them, break up the patteren so to speak, before i could see how many stacks there were. thats when it occurred to me that i might be dyslexic. after researching it some, i found i fit the model. it explained so many things.
just knowing this made things easier. gave me a vantage point. gave me courage to try things i had always thought were beyond me. and to my surprize, i was good at things i never thought i would be able to do. thats like being freed from prison.
there are two other things that make up my personal experience. amblyopia, and hyperactivity, both of which i was diagnosed with as a child. im still exploring this, dicovering how these all worked together.
that will be my next post.