I have another confession to make…
I am a dyslexic writer.
Thanks to Spellcheck and Google Chrome that is not as big an obstacle as it once was. But dyslexia was a bigger deal when I was in school, though that word was just coming into vogue. I was ‘slow.’ In fact, I did not learn to read until I was ten.
Back in those days, they segregated students based on abilities. The white group (layers of hidden racist agenda?) were the ‘smart’ or ‘gifted’ children. (Come to think, there was not a dark face in that whole class.) The blues were the ‘normal’ kids. Then you had us, reds. ‘Slow’ or not academically inclined were the only labels we got back then. Occasionally, troublemakers.
Then, we got a young student teacher. She was learning about this ‘new thing’ called dyslexia. Our teacher had her take a few of us into the cafeteria and work one-on-one with us. I don’t remember much of that time, except she gave up trying to teach me phonics. I learned to read by memorizing words. A few at a time. But by the end of that year, I was reading so well that I was ‘promoted’ out of the red classroom – into the whites.
Yes, I was always intelligent. It was simply that school based everything on one skill – the ability to read. Sadly, almost half-a-century later, they still do.
My struggles with dyslexia did not end then, of course. Every single report card that I took home had a ‘D’ in spelling. And until Spellcheck that was still a struggle. Honestly, even now I get caught out once a week or so. I want to use some ‘fifty-cent’ word as I call them. But I cannot spell it. Google Chrome is a fair bit better at recognizing my misspellings than Spellcheck. But even then there is always that one word that I cannot even get close enough at the spelling for it to recognize. So, I end up using another word instead.
The other way that my dyslexia continues to plague me is learning another language. In high school, I took four years of Latin. Why? Because it was the only language that I could learn without having to speak or understand it. I have tried others, French, German, and Spanish, but hearing the different sounds always holds me back. A couple of months ago, I singed up at Dualingo to learn Irish/Gaelic. Eventually, I gave up. I just could not understand the sounds. And forget speaking it.
My two oldest children also struggled to read. But like me around the age of ten, things just clicked. And they too became ferocious readers. There is strong evidence for a genetic link to dyslexia. So, when I began to home educate @PanKwake, I was not surprised to discover that she too struggled with reading. Especially since I had listened to her father read bedtime stories to her as a toddler.
You see dyslexia is not one thing but several. The two most prevalent are phonetic translation issues such as mine and the other is short-to-long-term memory disfunction. For most people learning to read, even phonetically, after seeing and sounding out C-A-T a few dozen times, something clicks in the brain and they no longer need to sound that word out. It becomes a sight word. For those like my ex-husband, that process does not work well. Their reading speed and comprehension are slowed because they have to sound out the same words over and over.
@PanKwake inherited both forms of dyslexia.
At fifteen, her ‘reading’ is limited to a dozen or so of the most common words from her gaming. Her name, Hi, play, that sort of thing. Frankly, it is hard for even me to accept that may well be the limit of her ‘reading’ ability. Especially since she is so incredibly intelligent in other ways. Her critical thinking and debate skills exceed those many adults. Like her mother, she even has dozens of people (characters) running around in her head, begging to have their stories told.
As her educational facilitators, we have two struggles. One is providing her with the socialization/peopling that her extroverted nature demands. And the other is assessing and accessing the technology necessary to help @PanKwake ‘read.’
But what is reading?
Is it that mere putting together on various sounds into a word? What if like her father that task has been so long and tiring that you don’t comprehend what you ‘read’ two or five minutes ago? Is that reading?
What if you do not recognize and cannot pronounce a new word you come across because you cannot sound it out phonetically? You may even have an idea what it means. Perhaps you even look up in the dictionary to be certain. But you are too insecure to use it in conversation because you might say it wrong? Is that reading?
And these days…with Audible and role play stories on YouTube, is that reading?
Is reading recognizing letters and making them into words? Or is it merely one method of transferring knowledge?
According to Cambridge Dictionary, it is all those things:
the skill or activity of getting information from books
the occasion when something written, especially a work of literature, is spoken to an audience
the way in which you understand something
So, yes, when you listen to a story on Audiobooks, or Wattpad, or even watch one of Aphmau‘s brilliant Minecraft role play stories, you are ‘reading.’
In that way, @PanKwake’s literacy skills have taken a huge leap recently. In her way, she has become as much a ‘ferocious reader’ as me and her older siblings. It is just that instead of paper pages or words on a screen, she uses her ears as the primary sensory organ rather than her eyes.
But she is not alone. Long before Kindle and Audible made listening to stories popular, humans relied on their storytellers for their history, religion, and news. But more about the… History of Reading next time.
Until then, goddess bless you and your family with knowledge and more importantly Wisdom,
Tara and @PanKwake