Not dyslexia, but what is it? Help me read more books!
November 1, 2013 4:11 PM   Subscribe

I often have to repeat reading a sentence many times before the cadence of the words is correct and then makes sense: DO you want cake? do YOU want cake? do you WANT cake? do you want CAKE?

I love books, but I hate the process of reading. I see words just fine, and use many coping skills: a card to keep track of the line of text that I am at, and reading out loud to myself. My reading comprehension has tested very high, but the process of reading is tedious and time consuming. I would like to be able to finish a book in a few days, like all my friends can, instead of a few weeks. I can't help thinking if this thing had a name, I might know how to improve my situation.
Audio books have absolutely changed my life, but I crave a good quiet read in bed on a Sunday morning, or even just reading on loud public transport to pass my time.
posted by k8oglyph to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Dyslexia covers a very broad range of specific disabilities... and while no one can diagnose you over the internet, you can get a full psychoeducational evaluation even as an adult. It would pinpoint the specific deficiencies you have and provide suggestions for how to remedy them. The only problem is that it is quite expensive.

The exercise you describe (changing the inflected word in the same sentence) is actually an exercise that is used with dyslexic students...

This is going to sound weird, but some people find colored reading guides helpful. I haven't read a satisfactory explanation of WHY they work... but they seem to REALLY help some people:

Another suggestion would be take a speed reading course. I took one in 4th grade and it changed my life. This program is aimed at dyslexic kids but I don't see why it wouldn't work for an adult. Or you can get in touch with the creator and they can point you to a course designed for adults:
posted by LittleMy at 4:28 PM on November 1, 2013

I wonder if something like Spreeder would help--or some other kind of software that would push you to keep going and not jut keep lingering over the same text?
posted by Sequence at 4:29 PM on November 1, 2013

You do not sound like a slow reader but someone having a very specific problem with decoding sentences. Dyslexia involves multiple issues, and what you describe can be one of them. Every dyslexic person is different because reading and writing take so many linked up skills, and just one weak spot can cause reading struggles. It sounds like you do really well on almost all of the skills but have a couple of very specific processing challenges at the sentence level, not at the individual letters at all. A dyslexia specialist should be able to work with you to figure out a way around them.

The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan is a dumb-sounding title but a surprisingly helpful book of the pile of dyslexia books I've read. One great thing I took away from him was that audiobooks are not the poor cousin to "real" books, but just as good. He has trained himself to speed up the books to 1.5 to 3x faster, depending on the material, so the narrator is "speed-reading" for more books in the same time. He can finish a book that way at around the same speed as most people in print.

He also got used to computer narration for texts that weren't recorded yet, and the quality is much better now.

I get what you mean about curling up with a book in bed - what about graphic novels and other comic books or magazines with more visual presentation?

BTW, I use audiobooks for public transport because I can listen on headphones! I use the ones that don't entirely block external sound so I don't miss my stop.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:51 PM on November 1, 2013

What you describe is a) careful reading and b) something that's getting in the way of your reading. I wonder how many people have read passages in literature and taken away an entirely wrong nuance, or wrong meaning, because they didn't consider this [whatever the word is for your careful reading].

For example -- not a perfect analogy, but still -- how many people think Dickens was making some stupid comment about it actually being 'the best of times and the worst of times'? What he was doing was not that at all -- he was mocking the talking heads of the day, and the difficulty of knowing which one is right. (As in 'Eat carbs, don't eat carbs -- who's to know anymore?')

So don't be too hard on yourself for careful reading. Sorry I can't offer more help about how to be less careful.

As to the specific issue you mention, here's an interesting take on it:
Stress test

posted by LonnieK at 7:31 PM on November 1, 2013

IANAReadingExpert, but I think you might be helped if you listen to an audio book while you read the same book in print. You might want to adjust the speed a little faster, but it might help you if you can hear the reader giving the cadence and see the words at the same time.
posted by CathyG at 6:39 PM on November 2, 2013

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