I wanted to write and share my discovery of dyslexia. That I’m dyslexic. That I have joked about it for as long as I could remember. Joked that I did this or that or struggled with that time sheet again or couldn’t add a simple sum at lunch to split a bill. I would add “I’m pretty sure I’m dyslexic”.
It’s funny how they say there is always a little truth in a joke, seeing how this has panned out over the years.
In the last week something clicked. I have been reading about dyslexia, doing checklists and being blown away that I’m so obviously dyslexic but it’s taken me this long to realise. And now I want to own it. And share some of the challenges I experience.
I have never been able to tell the time on an analog clock, something that has always been well known and many of my kind folk have tried to teach me. I have always panicked when I only have access to an analog clock. Fortunately though I have always found ways to just ask people what the time is, and ignore the weird look when they must think “the clock is right there”. And now with mobile phones always being around it’s very rare I experience analog panic.
I always struggled with multiplication tables, and I still don’t know them. Calculators are my friend.
Left and right has always been a funny one for me. I have always had to do things like write on my leg to find my right hand or do the L shape with my fingers trick.
I also struggle in the car or getting directions for my body. For example, in a yoga class, I always take time to process the instruction. I can still sometimes not quite get it right and get confused.
I did lots of dancing, gymnastic type stuff here and there growing up, but choreography was a huge problem for me. Learning sequences, taking instructions and throwing in left or right was always really hard.
One stumbling block in my ignorance on my identifying as being dyslexic is that I was a very early reader and book worm. But I have difficulties with huge blocks of texts and I often read super fast but miss so much and have trouble processing and understanding the content. Sometimes a sentence can have me stumped and confused to the point I become so scrambled that I just give up.
I find it almost impossible to sound out words I don’t know and this has been quite hilarious and embarrassing. My partner finds this hugely amusing and we have many jokes about some of the stuff I have said.
At work I was really good at trying to avoid things that would involve doing things I would struggle at that no one else seemed to. I’m a youth worker and case notes were hand written and I would painstakingly write them carefully and try and stick to being very factual. I really find forms difficult and often need to re write them or make many mistakes. Often the same ones, over and over.
I would be anxious about having to drive to places I didn’t know because I have great difficulty reading maps. If I’m following a straight line, great. Throw in any other things and it’s all starting to swim.
Not long ago I spent 2 months corresponding with a government agency via many, many forms. It was awful I spent so much time teary and stressed trying to complete applications. They were sent back to me because I didn’t complete them correctly or I didn’t understand what they were asking so I left things out. I know the level of stress and my ability to complete this stuff was not something that most people experience.
I look back at my schooling and understand why it wasn’t picked up. I went to 7 different primary schools, so I wasn’t anywhere long enough for anyone to really notice.
Looking back at some reports, it’s been noted often that my comprehension is lacking. High school years were wild because I wasn’t there to do “school” and I left without completing it.
I look now at completing my diploma in Youth Work back in 2007 and know how stressful it was. So many others just did their stuff but I really, really struggled with assignments. My mother helped me so much with reading my work, editing and helping me make sense of what I was doing. I often had huge meltdowns and was hugely stressed over assignments. Other students and friends in my class helped me.
Thinking about how I was supported and helped so I could complete my studies made me realise that this is what it is to be supported and accommodated. Because I wouldn’t have made it through the course on my own. I didn’t know then why that help was so crucial, I just knew I needed it and felt lost and overwhelmed without it.
I want to remember that. That it’s cool to be dyslexic and need help, support and assistance with the things that are hard for me.
And it’s kind of a beautiful reflection because being part of Respectfully Connected is huge for me. I honestly feel like a fraud most the time amongst the amazing people here. I always ask the group to edit, read and check things for me and I always feel a bit annoying, but no one here ever cares. In fact, they always want to know if they can help me post, make a meme or link to FB.
So whilst being here and writing about Neurodiversity and parenting, I discover my own neurodivergence. And I learn how it explains challenges in my life and how much I can grow and learn and feel free by being supported too, like my children.