I’m Dyslexic – It’s a great way to be 

Being dyslexic caused me plenty of grief while at school. And as a young adult who could not read, I missed out on a lot. I recall a friend encouraging me to read a book he thought I would enjoy. He said; “You should read this. You are the type of person who would really appreciate it.” That was a nice compliment but I did not read the book – I could not read!

We have been evolved to decipher words carried on sound waves, entering our brains via our ears. Encoding words in print and taking them in through our eyes is not natural and we should not be surprised if many people cannot do it. 

Then there is the way the English language is written. Godfrey Dewey noted that 41 English phonemes are spelt 561 different ways.

After returning to high school in my mid 20’s and studying three years at Monash University, I still did not overcome my dyslexia. Then, in my early 40’s, two events changed my life. First was when they gave my condition a name. It was now called dyslexia and a lot of famous people had it. I was not suddenly treated differently because I had the same learning disability as Winston Churchill. But knowing there were others like me, and we were not the B Team, made me feel better about myself. Next was text-to-speech. As soon as the technology was available, and I could afford a computer with text-to-speech, I dedicated every spare minute to reading. 

 The reason I am telling my story is because I believe our educators do not appreciate the issues surrounding dyslexia and do not fully exploit the available technology. Teachers claim they can teach dyslexic children to read and are reluctant to introduce what they claim is a ‘prosthesis’.

No doubt there are people with mild dyslexia who can be taught to read and spell. Unfortunately there are others, myself included, who will never have adequate literacy skills.

I still get told; “If I really tried to learn to read I could do it!” That makes me mad.

I have completed graduate and post graduate university courses; have four books with a total of 300,000 words in print yet still have substandard reading and spelling. Thankfully though, text-to-speech technology came along in time for me.  It has made it possible to research and write my books and to cope with life in a world dominated by the printed word.

I'm Dislexic - it's a great way to be

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