Typos Everywhere: Dyslexia and Me

Typos Everywhere: Dyslexia and Me
If you are a reader of this blog, you already know I can’t spell. I am dyslexic, and I just don’t see the errors. This morning, I reversed some digits and instead of reaching my heating company I was greeted with a loud ALOHA as I’d dialed Hawaii by mistake. Dyslexia has given me many misadventures, and some shame and embarrassment. The truth is, I don’t mind.
I have mixed dominance (not as sexy as it sounds)—in that although I’m mostly right handed my left hemisphere doesn’t dominate my right. So what? People are always trying to draw on the right side of the brain—I do it naturally. The old theory of dyslexia was that we dyslexics were smart if handicapped—and good at compensating. That is, our intelligence helped us fake what we couldn’t read. Turns out, new thinking says this isn’t true. Dyslexics are just plain intelligent, but in a minority way. We’re not compensating. We’re thinking differently. And apparently this different way of thinking is needed by human kind, and isn’t selected against.That is, no one refuses to have children with you just because you reverse digits.
I’m just speaking anecdotally, but I think dyslexics are sensitive to cause and effect, to patterns, and to disruptions in that field. No doubt at the dawn of human kind we were good at looking out over the savannah and seeing the moving pattern of the speckled or spotted predator. We just couldn’t communicate well about location—was it right or left?
My daughter, not a dyslexic, has guided me many times. I once made her walk AWAY from the steaming public hot springs in Iceland towards the freezing windy bay by insisting we go “right,” and then striding off to the left. Once she overcame my adamant opinion, she pointed out gently that we need to go “the other right” i.e. left to get to soak.
So here’s an interesting twist—my son-in-law has dyslexia. It’s a bond between us. Apparently my daughter likes an independent thinker who needs a bit of help reading WARNING: KEEP OUT! And of course we need her.
So why am I writing this? Just to say, if you see a typo, forgive me. If it seems important, drop me a note. I’ll correct it—and thank you!

My Dyslexia: Should I Seek A Cure?

I have dyslexia. I think people who meet me in middle age can be unaware of this–but not if they notice I can’t spell or am apt to go right when told to turn left. I was diagnosed as a six year old, looking into a machine. Asked how many squares I saw I said three. This was the wrong answer, I quickly ascertained, as the tester asked me over and over in an increasingly irritated tone. I’d have lied, but I had absolutely no idea how many squares there were. What I saw was wrong.
I couldn’t read until the summer of fourth grade, when mysteriously words came together. In elementary school I was often criticized for being lazy and told I wasn’t living up to my potential.
Recently, an alternative health care practitioner I’ve been working with told me she could “heal” the dyslexia. It would be arduous, labor intensive, and somewhat costly, but, she said “you’ll be able to see as everyone else does.” Now I like her, and she has really helped me with a chronic condition. But, if it were even possible, do I want to be cured of my dyslexia?
Looking within, I find the answer is currently no. Of course I’d have said yes at ten years old, as I struggled in school. But at almost sixty? I did go to college–and actually I now teach college. Because of my dyslexia, I never even think a student is stupid. I can pick up quickly on so called learning disabilities. I have empathy. It has made me a better teacher.
Also, I’ve come to accept the fact that my mind is odd. It doesn’t function in the standard way. But so what? Why is “normal” good? The quote normal world and normal people have done terrible things, as history will atest. Sometimes I still get teased for my differences, or even criticized. But I am realizing this is a small price to pay.
I recently got a student evaluation that said I helped them think outside the box. This is an understatement. My sister, who shares my inability to distinguish right from left, said once “I didn’t even know there was a box!” I can’t see the box, or the squares in it, but that is fine. Dyslexia is seen as a bad thing, but my kind is called “mixed dominance.” It sounds kinky, but just means one hemisphere of the brain doesn’t dominate the other. I think of artistic types I know with math anxiety and uptight left brainers trying to loosen up. I don’t have these issues. I think I’ll stay the way I am.