Categories: Spotlight on our Network
In this humorous piece, Hena Haines, Harvard '13 and Lime Connect Fellow, shares the real deal about what life with dyslexia is like. Hena didn't realize she had dyslexia until she was a junior in high school. Here are the 8 things that should have clued her in...
What It's Like to Be Dyslexic
Snake and Snack. Two words that have been giving me trouble for as long as I can remember. I always thought it was weird that I could never get these two words correct until I realized I was dyslexic when I was a junior in high school. I had always thought dyslexia was what everyone said it was: seeing letters inwords backwards. And because I did not mistake snake to look like anske norsnack to look like ckans, I assumed I was not dyslexic. However, when I took AP Psychology and my teacher explained what dyslexia was and what phonetics are, I realized that all my reading troubles and spelling troubles pointed to thefact that I did not understand phonetics and that I was dyslexic. I had always suspected something was wrong with me, but I was not sure what and finally I had an answer.
If my AP psychology teacher did not lecture on dyslexia but instead made us learn solely from our text, I probably would have never figured out I was dyslexic since I would have missed the book's main points given my difficulty reading. But since 40 million American Adults are dyslexic, but only 2 million people know it, I think it is important for people to understand what dyslexia is from the point of view of a dyslexic written in a format that is easy for dyslexics to read and understand.
I think it is important for people to understand what dyslexia is from the point of view of a dyslexic written in a format that is easy for dyslexics to read and understand.
Most dyslexics probably started right here. So to the point of the article, the 8 things that people used to tell me which should have clued me in to the fact I am dyslexic:
1) When I ask someone how to spell "cat" and they would answer with "k-aaa-t"
I always ask people how to spell words, and often people respond by sounding the word out for me like k-aa-t. I never understood why that made sense, but I would just pretend like it helped. Why couldn't they just say, " C, A, T."
2) When I ask someone else AGAIN how to spell something, and they say, " Just look it up in the dictionary"
Again, I have trouble spelling, so, since I didn't get the answer when I went to the first person, I would go to next person who would say, "just look it up in the dictionary." This always confused me - how was I supposed to look something up if I didn't know how to spell it. I could get to the first letter, but after that I had no clue.
3) When the teacher says :" It is time for popcorn reading!!" :
When I had to read out loud in class, I got so nervous my hands started to sweat, and I would read ahead to find my part making sure I didn't mispronounce every word on the page. I would lean over and ask the person next to me how to pronounce what to me were unintelligible letters. They would perform the magic of sounding out the words to figure out how it was pronounced. I was so surprised to learn that not everyone was reading ahead in preparation for their turn to "pop".
4) When this happens on a daily basis:
When I type, half of the page is underlined red because of misspellings, and when I look for the correct word, I have no clue which one is right.
Picture Source: Quickmeme.com
5) When this meme can apply to about any new word or new character name
When I read books and I had no clue how to pronounce the name of the characters I simply made up new names. When people heard I read a book, they would talk to me about the characters and I would have no clue who they were talking about.
Picture Source: sodahead.com
6) When other people laugh at this, I do not understand why it is so funny
I make mistakes like colon vs cologne all the time. I do it with brain vs Brian and choose, chose, and choice. When I first saw this, I didn't know what was wrong with it.
Picture Source: mninstitute.com
7) When someone reads your email that you wrote about offering to bring snakes to the club meeting
This is probably my most embarrassing mistake: offering to bring snakes and not snacks.
Picture Source: britneyspearsgifs.tumblr.com
8) When you often ask questions like this to people.
Sometimes I just can't remember words. Even everyday words like helicopter. However sometimes I know the word, but I can't pronounce it, so I have to describe the word so someone can help me.
Picture Source: pritchettclan.tumblr.com
Although I am dyslexic and sometimes things are harder for me, I do not let it stop me for doing the things I want to do and know I can do. One of my favorite passages is from Sally Shaywitz's book on Dyslexia:
"Dyslexics think differently. They are intuitive and excel at problem solving, seeing the big picture, and simplifying. They feast on visualizing, abstract thinking, and thinking out of the box. They are poor rote reciters but inspired visionaries. Adult dyslexics are tough: Having struggled, they are used to adversity; hard work and perseverance now come naturally. Having experienced failure, they are fearless, undaunted by setbacks. Repetition and practice are a way of life. Each person I've focused on was rescued by a special person - a parent or a teacher - who saw the raw talent and nurtured it in the midst of all the naysayers. Yes, the symptoms of dyslexia persist, but they needn't interfere with success."
Plus, you are in good company! Look who else is dyslexic: