How Dyslexia Works

How Dyslexia Works No1

I came across someone who owns a school for special students. She is a caring and helpful person. But she holds very fixed ideas about how to teach someone to read.

You learn the letters. You sound out how the letters are supposed to sound-like with temporarily ignoring the many exceptions which are context-sensitive. Those exceptions are difficult to deal with. But she teaches the "building blocks" of words and demands that her special students follow along in that process. She is, after all, the person who has taught special students for over 35  years and she knows. And, indeed she did know a lot, but not how to teach dyslectics to read. I know how to do that.

And it works like this: just ignore the whole learn-letters-sound-out-the-letter-put-the-pieces-together and drop it altogether.

Her process is "logical" to her as she does not have dyslexia. And, it is logical to almost the entire school systems in the U.S.

Learn the pieces, sound out the pieces, and then fit the pieces' sounds into words. Makes sense. Except that dyslectics attach zero importance to that kind of step by step process.

The reason is that there is no allowance for personal adoption of "importance" to it.

Importance is the key concept as it is importance that determines how things show up in your perception... importance. And just to make it a fuss, the importance is not static, it varies over time a lot... now that goofs you up a lot.

That importance works for me (as I have now observed it) with color first and then shapes. So letters on their own have no importance at all and certainly not because a teacher imposes some step by step order that was not honoring my own method.

For me, circles are most dominant in perception. So the circles in "O"'s, "D"'s, "P"'s, "B"'s are the most dominant in perception... NOT the letter that the circle was a part of.

But things can change depending on the overall appearance of a page of text. For instance a magazine article's text if far different from a book's text or a webpage's text. Each has an unpredictable impact on the perception of what is there in the first place.

But it could be round shapes today and the lines tomorrow. Those shapes dance around in my mind's eye. I have noticed that if I am tired, then the perception of letters changes. I can add a "river" of yellow to all the circles in letters and that river of yellow will dominate what the printed page looks like... if I am tired it does that. All the round shapes turn yellow and if I squint a bit, there is a river of yellow going down the page. That is perceptually important.

So, the point here is that teaching LETTERS is a bad way to go for a dyslectic person. On their own, letters have no "importance" to my perceptual "mechanisms" at all. Letters are shapes of things like a leaf or a tool or key or some other object and letters, to me, are NOT an important part of creating words at all... odd as that must sound.

What does work is to teach WORDS. Never mind the letters. Just go straight for the words and have a picture of the thing that the word is for right with it. THAT I get immediately. I know this from experience. The picture that goes with the word would be better if it were in color vs. being black and white. And for me as a child, then if it were a cartoon-like picture then it comes across more friendly and more easily perceived and matched up with the word it was meant to go with.

 Typing Words vs. Typing Letters

And it is how I type using a keyboard. I type the words. I have never actually remembered where the letters are. But have memorized how to type the word... THAT I remember and it is now embedded in my mind over many years of typing words, not letters. This runs totally counter to how people teach how to type which is the reason why I taught myself. I am a fast typist and look at the screen (showing the progress of the typing) and not at the keyboard.

So, I have tried to tell this to some special students' teachers. And WOW do they not want to hear that...!!!

My merely bringing this up has generated anger from the special students' teachers. That amazes me. I have learned to just not bring it up as it has no audience amongst special students' teachers at all. It has shown me how difficult it can be for dyslectics because only someone with dyslexia knows this and that is IF they have chosen to observe it themselves and to watch how it works. Maybe I am unique in that regard. I have no way of knowing, though. I regard dyslexia as very personal happening and it takes a personal curiosity to watch how some mental perceptual mechanics work.

I now take delight in watching how I read and how my perception and then translation of my perception into saying/talking works. It is governed by "importance" and not by how letter-pieces fit together into words at all... odd as that must sound.

I have realized that a large part of my early childhood stuttering was centered around the time/space between my perception and my saying/talking. For instance: I can speak a sentence incorrectly that I am reading right now. BUT, I am aware that I am saying it "wrong" and can go back to correct the speaking part to match with what I "know" was in the text. There is an underlying "knowing" what the text says even though I said it wrong.

So, note the differentiation: I am translating what I read into a perception that when I speak it I can know it is "wrong" or "inaccurate."

Where does that knowledge come from? I now note that I can ADD words to a sentence that were not there in the first place or ignore words that were there. While speaking it (reading aloud) I know something is wrong and can go back to "correct" the feeling of inaccuracy.

This really screws up "speed-reading" as I can just speak a jumble of wrong stuff while trying to speed-read... that makes college-reading-input a real problem.

All of this can be dealt with, though, if you know and accept it. Acceptance brings relaxation and followed on that is curiosity and remembering one's own special perceptual mechanics.

I wish to stress that this is all deal-able-with IF one is not being made "wrong" and the situation being called into the space of "self discipline" or a "lack of self discipline." Dyslextics do not lack self-discipline but it can look like that to a "discipline teacher."

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