Ok. I’m exaggerating. But come on. I just discovered a fantastic website that describes a wide variety of symptoms of dyslexia. A lot of the symptoms popped out to me as describing my son: delayed speech, confusing left and right, can read a word on one page but won’t recognize it on the next page (that last one always blew me away when he was learning to read). Can’t master tying shoes. What? This is related to dyslexia? Wow. Yup, he can’t tie a knot of any kind.
When reading aloud, reads in a slow, choppy cadence (not in smooth phrases), and often ignores punctuation. Becomes visibly tired after reading for only a short time. Reading comprehension may be low due to spending so much energy trying to figure out the words. Listening comprehension is usually significantly higher than reading comprehension.
When reading a story or a sentence, substitutes a word that means the same thing but doesn’t look at all similar, such as trip for journey, fast for speed, or cry for weep. I always wonder how he does this- won’t read a particular word, but will pop in a synonym in its place.
Their spelling is far worse than their reading. His spelling is atrocious. People with dyslexia usually have an “impoverished written product.” That means there is a huge difference between their ability to tell you something and their ability to write it down.
They go on to talk about directionality confusion. Most people know about people with dyslexia flipping d’s and b’s, p’s and q’s. But no one talks about not being able to read or understand a map. I used to make my living as a ship’s navigator. Reading maps was what I did best, and I couldn’t explain what a line of longitude was to my son, even when I was blue in the face and had turned one of his play balls into a round map with lines of latitude and longitude drawn all over it. It just did not compute.
People with dyslexia have extreme difficulty telling time on a clock with hands. I am finally fully appreciating that even though we go over what time it is, every single blinking day, he still can’t tell what time it is on an analog clock.
People with dyslexia have an extremely difficult time organizing their belongings. They tend to pile things rather than to organize them and put them away. It is almost as though if they can’t see the item (if it is behind a door or in a drawer), they will forget where it is. So they have extremely messy bedrooms, lockers, desks, backpacks, purses, offices, and garages. Ding, ding, ding, ding!!!! We have hit another one right on the head. My son can’t keep track of anything. And my house constantly looks like a tornado just went through.
People with dyslexia are often gifted in math. Their three-dimensional visualization skills help them “see” math concepts more quickly and clearly than non-dyslexic people. Unfortunately, difficulties in directionality, rote memorization, reading, and sequencing can make the following math tasks so difficult that their math gifts are never discovered. I have seen some of this in my son- how he can look at a problem and see the answer right away. But the way math is taught these days, he has to write out each and every step in sentences, causing him frustration and defeat.
So, now that I see so clearly a constellation of traits that are my son, that are likely dyslexia, how can I teach him how to tie his shoes, or does he go through life wearing shoes that don’t tie? He’s made it 9+ years so far without tying his shoes. And will he ever be able to tell time on an analog clock? What will happen if he’s grown and needs to know the time, and has only analog clocks around at that moment? Will he ever learn to be organized enough to make it through life? Will he learn to read a map so he can get from point A to B? When he’s older will he be able to find that job interview and get there? on time?
And who, other than me has to figure this all out? To see the pieces of this puzzle child of mine. School certainly isn’t much help. Their resources are already tapped out. And it’s not their job to make sure all the kids can tie their shoes, or organize their desk or locker by the time they graduate high school.
Maybe there is a faint glimmer of hope. After all, there have been some pretty famous people who had dyslexia, like, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Benjamin Franklin.