Dyslexia, Yes I Have It

People look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I can’t read. When I say I can’t read, I’m being completely honest there. I truly cannot read. Then how did I make it this far in life? Why did I pass school? Did I cheat? Well…no, but I sure did struggle. Let me explain on my inability to read. If you give me a word I have never seen before, I can’t read it, I can’t pronounce it, I just sit there staring at it. When it comes to other words, like the ones I type in my blog here, the are words I have seen before and had to have people tell me. I memorize, I see the word and make someone say the word and that’s how I “read”. That’s the best way I can describe it to someone that doesn’t understand and have the disorder.

So how did I get though school? Well I’m not a complete idiot. I have this ability to remember the things said to me, it’s part of my memorizing. If the teacher actually “teaches” instead of saying “go home and read this” then I will learn it and probably won’t forget it, ever. Not many teachers did that and the further in school I got, the less they did it. Spelling tests…those were a damn nightmare! And just anything that required reading…it was horrible! School was the toughest thing I have ever done!

All this came about when I came across the following article. You can read it at this link or read below.

Dyslexia Workarounds: Creativity Without a Lot of Reading

Actor Henry Winkler was told he was stupid. A teacher labeled Dan Malloy, the future governor of Connecticut, “mentally retarded.” Delos Cosgrove recalls “hanging on by my fingernails” in high school and college before becoming a thoracic surgeon and the Cleveland Clinic’s chief executive officer.

Each has dyslexia, a condition that makes reading difficult but has little to do with intelligence. Mounting evidence shows that many people with dyslexia are highly creative, out-of-the-box thinkers, and neuroimaging studies demonstrate that their brains really do think differently.

That helps explain the long list of entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, actors and other professionals, doctors and lawyers who have excelled despite, or perhaps because of, their affliction, experts say.

“There are people who are dyslexic that you could never imagine,” says Sally Shaywitz, co-director, with her husband Bennett, of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. When they give talks on dyslexia at high-powered gatherings such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, she says, “We can’t walk down the hall without people pulling us aside and saying they think they have it, too.”

Celebrities who have spoken out about having dyslexia:

  • Actors: Orlando Bloom, Whoopi Goldberg, Anthony Hopkins, Keira Knightley, Henry Winkler
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Lawyer: David Boies
  • Writers: John Irving, Wendy Wasserstein, Philip Schultz
  • Politicians: California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy
  • Scientists: Nobel Laureate Carol Greider, Paleontologist Jack Horner
  • Historical figures believed to have had dyslexia: Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin

Source: WSJ reporting

The Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Cosgrove says he relied on memorizing texts in medical school, and reading hasn’t gotten easier for him. He says he has never read a novel and told his staff he’d rather hear about any problems in person than read a report.

But, he says, “I frankly think dyslexia is a gift. If you are supported in school and your ego remains intact, then you emerge with a strong work ethic and a different view of the world.”

As many as one in five Americans has some degree of dyslexia, according to Yale research, although only about 5% of children have been formally diagnosed. And it clearly runs in families; six gene variations have been linked to the condition to date. Dyslexia was long thought to be a vision-related problem, but there’s a growing consensus that dyslexics instead have difficulty associating letters with spoken sounds and blending them together fluidly to make words. Neuroimaging studies can even pinpoint what goes awry.

Reading typically involves three distinct areas of the brain, all on the left side. The parieto-temporal region, just behind the ear, and the inferior frontal gyrus, at the front, slowly analyze words. The occipital-temporal area farther back recognizes the whole word instantly. Scientists think a word’s meaning, pronunciation and spelling are stored there too.

Imaging studies show that the best readers have the most brain activity in the rear, instant-word-forming area when they read. Dyslexics have much less activity there and more in the two slower areas.

“Think of the word ‘bat,’ ” says Dr. Shaywitz. “If you are dyslexic, you have to retrieve the B and the A and the T separately each time. It’s exhausting.”

Dyslexia can’t be cured, but imaging studies show that some remedial programs that help children learn sequential sound-letter relationships can rewire those circuits. Without such help, dyslexics may become accurate readers, but they never read fluidly. They often have problems spelling, writing, reading aloud and pronouncing words.

That’s why experts urge schools to give students with dyslexia extra time on tests, waive foreign language requirements and grade separately for creativity and spelling. But many schools don’t, according to a federal report commissioned last year by the Congressional Dyslexia Caucus.

 Among dyslexics who succeed, Dr. Shaywitz says many “give up their social lives and everything else to spend more hours studying. They are very bright, but they are terribly anxious and think, ‘I’ve just been fooling everybody.’ “

Other children with dyslexia become discouraged early on and continue to fall further behind their peers, even if their IQs are high.

Helping them access information in ways other than reading can be critical, experts say. Audio books and computer programs that can turn written text into spoken words and vice versa can keep their minds stimulated and vocabulary growing.

Gov. Malloy credits his mother for believing in his potential and giving him a radio to listen to at night. Having to read slowly helped him master complicated issues as he went from a New York City prosecutor to mayor of Stamford, Conn. He was elected governor in 2010. But even now, he says, “I have to stop and call each word up and do the best I can.”

At auditions, Henry Winkler memorized scripts in advance or ad-libbed if he forgot. “Some people got upset that I wasn’t reading the words, but I told them I was giving them the essence of it,” says Mr. Winkler, who played Fonzie on TV’s long-running “Happy Days” and many other roles. He is the co-author of 23 books for children in the series “Hank Zipzer, The World’s Greatest Underachiever,” about a resourceful fourth-grader with dyslexia.

Jack Horner’s reading ability is so poor that he says he bought shampoo for dogs instead of people recently. He left high school in the 1960s with all Ds and flunked out of college.

Mr. Horner also made some of the most spectacular dinosaur finds in the Western hemisphere. He won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, has two honorary degrees, inspired a character in “Jurassic Park” and is curator of paleontology for the largest Tyrannosaurus rex collection in the world.

How did he do it? He took a low-level museum job and worked his way up. And as he tells his students at Montana State University: “If you’re the first to do something, you don’t have to read about it.”

Other people with dyslexia find that they thrive only outside the world of reading and writing. “Find what you love and enjoy it,” says Piper Otterbein, a high school senior from Cape Elizabeth, Maine, whose talk at a TEDYouth conference has become a YouTube sensation. After years of tutoring and remedial classes, she dropped English, math and French and has found her passion, and self-esteem, in art and design. “I decided my creative brain is the one that suits me best,” she says.

Many adults with dyslexia say life does get easier, even if their reading skills don’t. Secretaries, co-authors, book editors and spouses can take dictation, spell and proofread. “There are very few times when adults are judged on being timed in reading,” unlike the standardized tests kids take in school, says Tyler Lucas, a New York-based orthopedic surgeon who realized he was dyslexic after his daughter was diagnosed with it.

The proliferation of smartphones, video chats and other technologies may also make the future easier for people with dyslexia, he adds. “Reading is just one way of communicating—and in the future, I think it won’t be as important as in the past.”

Geocaching Adventure

I recently met some geocachers, most have been caching since long before me. Others started about the time I did or after me. Either way, it was completely awesome to meet some new people that love caching like I do! What brought meeting these new people? Well…boredom when I started a 5am shift at work and 14 new caches placed that same morning! How wonderful! It gave me something to get out of the building and the hell hole of that job and I had fun. Cached alone and meet people out doing the same. It was great! Started talking and had a blast.

Then recently a new cache was hidden…ok, 3 weeks prior, but no one had found it. Can you believe it, 3 weeks with no find…not one?? So I started reading and this is what it said:

I made this multi fairly quickly last night.  Mainly because of one cache I made a few weeks back. This will probably be the most evil little nano multi you have ever done.  Good luck and Happy Hunting.

Nanos? Uh! I hate nanos but what the hell? So off I headed, with my man first. Read the logs and one person found stage one but that was it. Most people won’t log DNFs, but those that did equaled 9. Crap! Oddly enough I found stage one in very little time. Crazy!! Coordinates were off by 20 feet, but I got it. For the record, this cache had a difficulty rating of 4.5 and to make matters worse, owner said coordinates were off too! Shit! But I found one, talk about some camo! It was a tiny piece of bark that went into the tree and I only found it because the color was slightly off.

So with the numbers, headed to stage 2 and started looking…nothing. It was getting late so my man said it was time to go. That’s ok, it was getting really cold anyway. So headed back the next day…still nothing. Two days and about 7 hours into this damn thing and got nothing. So I phoned one of these new caching friends I meet. He hadn’t been to it before but said he’d gather a group and head out. So we meet there and had a group of about 9 looking. I asked where their GPS said stage 2 was, started with that area since mine before got nothing and within 3 mins I found it!! Crazy!! I actually found it!

For your entertainment…stage two…

So off to stage 3 we go. Spent almost an hour looking, then some other cachers joined us. They drove by, recognized a few cars there and knew what we were looking for. So we all searched, everywhere! Nothing! We were about to give up then started breaking down everything about it. Still nothing. So finally we said, ok, time to move on. I didn’t want to give up so I gave it one last look and guess what…I found that one too!! Completely crazy!!! I couldn’t believe it! I found all 3, weird!

Stage 3…

It was awesome! Meeting new people and FINALLY solving this! Was so glad to have this one done! Plenty of new friends too! And my man thinks it’s great because if he can’t join me, I have other friends I can go with. How cool is that? So we are planning another day soon to go caching and I can’t wait! It’s keeping me occupied and busy, which is a good thing right now.