As a young child, I was active and imaginative with large coke bottle glasses who struggled with learning to read. My teachers were decidely impatient with what they saw as lazy or of low intelligence and would treat me accordingly. This caused me innumerable problems socially and emotionally as I was growing up trying to find my place in the world. As you may imagine, I fought against low self esteem and a poor self perception. Later on in my life, as a young adult, I learned that I had a disorder called Developmental Reading Disorder (DRD) or what we know as Dyslexia.
So what is this thing called Dyslexia (DRD)? Please bear with me as I explain.
Dyslexia or DRD occurs when there is a problem in areas of the brain that help interpret language. It is not caused by vision problems. The disorder is a specific information processing problem that does not interfere with one’s ability to think or to understand complex ideas. Most people with DRD have normal intelligence, and many have above-average intelligence and it runs in families.
DRD may appear in combination with developmental writing disorder and developmental arithmetic disorder. All of these involve using symbols to convey information. These conditions may appear alone or in any combination.
A person with DRD may have troubles rhyming and separating sounds that make up spoken words. These abilities appear to be critical in the process of learning to read. A child’s initial reading skills are based on word recognition, which involves being able to separate out the sounds in words and match them with letters and groups of letters. Because people with DRD have difficulty connecting the sounds of language to the letters of words, they may have difficulty understanding sentences. It is essential to know that true Dyslexia is much broader than simply confusing or transposing letters, for example, mistaking ”b” and “d.”. DRD may, in fact, occur in combination with writing or math learning problems.“
As it turned out for me, I was totally Dyslexic which means the disability would, and will, show up at very odd, and often, inconvenient times. I have learned that when I am distressed, overly tired, angry and nervous or upset the condition it will manifest itself in my speech, writing and math skills. What is frustrating to me and the person I am trying to communicate with is I know just what it is I want to say or write, but it comes out totally differently than what I’m actually thinking. This confuses the listener or reader and may cause misunderstandings for those who don’t know me. It is as if my mouth and my brain are not connected. What I have learned is to tell people, who do not know me well, what it is I am challenged with. It is also critical that I review everything I write or compute VERY carefully multiple times then leave it for a bit and come back and review it again to ensure I am communicating what I intend. When I don’t do these things the communication can get confused and cause much difficulty for both myself and the listener or reader. Given this disability, the fact that I have had a very successful career in marketing, communications and sales have been utterly astonishing to me.
Why am I telling you this? When you struggle with an unknown problem as a young child with a strong will to prove that you are “good enough” you develop coping mechanisms. I was terribly shy around my peers and teachers, not willing to speak, often because my speech would get all twisted up and make me appear “stupid”. To cope I became an acute observer of all around me and my environment. I learned through observation how to quickly ascertain what each person or situation I came into contact with was all about. With that knowledge, I was better able to determine how to successfully communicate my thoughts with different individuals. What I learned about human nature, through my observations, was we all have our problems. We all deal with them in different ways. The most valuable thing I’ve learned was we all want to be appreciated and accepted for who we are, a difficult thing for all in this fast paced ever changing world.
For me the disability, although a continuing challenge, has proven to be a blessing. I learned I loved to teach. I believe this was because I was never given a chance to express myself in a way that would allow me the opportunity to share who I honesty was. By teaching, I could show others (who were and are willing) how to do the same.
Against all odds and with the help of a great many tools that are now available, I have learned to love reading and writing as this blog demonstrates. It has taught me that no matter what the obstacle or challenge there is always a way to overcome it. The lesson I learned from all of this is; no matter what the circumstance there is always a way to overcome obstacles to achieve what it is you desire and deserve in your life. Always challenge myself, and look for ways to overcome whatever is holding me back. To not be afraid to take a risk and see where it will lead me.
What obstacles have you faced? How were you able to overcome them?
Life’s journey continues…