How to understand dyslexia as a non-dyslexic?
May 29, 2018 3:25 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for resources to understand dyslexia as a non-dyslexic. I can google but a lot of the information is geared around kids, and I am more interested in issues specifically impacting adults, like difficulty in reading maps.

Long story short, someone who's becoming important in my life is dyslexic, and there have been specific instances recently where it's come up that I really just do not get it, at all -- specifically there was a thing about maps being useless - and I feel like I need to beef up my extremely basic understanding of what it means to be dyslexic.

Links to things to read, resources, or personal anecdata welcome. I would watch a video if it was supposed to be SUPER GREAT but in general I prefer to read information over watching it (I know, get off my lawn, etc).
posted by Medieval Maven to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Have you seen some of the animations that demonstrate what it looks like to try and read when you have dyslexia? If you Google "fonts for dyslexia" you can get a bunch of examples (am on phone and can't link). Really interesting stuff; totally made reevaluate the way I teach and design things so they're as accessible as possible.
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:52 PM on May 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

My suggestion is you might look at memoirs for this kind of insight. Just googling a bit, My Dyslexia is by a Pulitzer prize-winning poet, includes some evocation of the subjective experience (including both a poem trying to get at what it's like and a ton of info on other feelings about it), and can be checked out of the Open Library for free. Dyslexia: A Teacher's Journal is another option that apparently describes a lifetime of helping people with dyslexia, including adults--the table of contents and the comments from readers both look pretty interesting.
posted by Wobbuffet at 5:12 PM on May 29, 2018 [5 favorites] is a website primarily aimed at parents of children with learning disabilities, but I suggest it as a possible resource anyway. This is their homepage for dyslexia.

A search for dyslexia turns up a bunch of articles and videos, including a brief interview with the author of My Dyslexia, mentioned above,
posted by Wretch729 at 6:33 PM on May 29, 2018

Dyslexia is a hard nut to crack- I have it and at times it is hard for me to say what it is, and what it isn't, and it manifests differently for people. I have no issues with maps. However, I would say the best way I can describe it is that it is hard for me to conceptualize ideas- writing is a huge issue for me- when I set out to write something it is really hard for me to conceptualize the organizational process needed to write in a systematic way. On the one hand, I understand outlines and graphic organizers, etc, but it is hard for me to actually produce those items with out help. And I highly recommend My Dyslexia- I prefer the audio version.
posted by momochan at 7:24 PM on May 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

I just finished The Dyslexia Debate, which I recommend, even though it can be dense at times. It's a very comprehensive and clearly written summary of research on why some people struggle to read and what can be done about it. It's also a strong and, to me, convincing argument that no-one agrees on what the word "dyslexic" means and it might be better if the term were retired for good. The word "dyslexia" suggests that there exists a cohesive syndrome in which people struggle to read for the same underlying biological reasons, which are well understood and characterized. This is not true; people with dyslexia are people who have trouble reading single words out loud, but beyond that they are an extremely heterogenous group, and their difficulties with reading may stem from a wide variety of different sources.
posted by IjonTichy at 5:17 AM on May 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

This was a really nice piece on NPR that I think did a good job of providing some examples of what it is like to be dyslexic.
posted by goggie at 1:19 PM on May 30, 2018

I'm dyslexic, and I'm also a high school English teacher who teaches many dyslexic students.

I'm not claiming my experience is universal, but here are the things that I find really difficult:

--telling left from right. They both look like L's to me, so that isn't helpful. Neither is my wedding ring. I give and take directions by pointing.

--getting the words (especially numbers and colours) from my head out of my mouth. I can see them really clearly in my head, but the connection between what I see in my brain and what I can produce with my mouth is really REALLY slow. And even when I can get it out of my mouth, it's often mixed up.

--similarly, I can't spell out loud without writing the word down first. For whatever reason, writing gets the word out of my brain but saying it doesn't.

--guessing/replacing words or even entire sections of books (especially descriptions of scenery or distance) instead of using the phonics skills I have. So there are entire books where I know the characters by different names because I use the first few letters and make my own name for them.

--my memory and ability to memorise. I have a visual photographic memory (except when under stress, which is SUPER USELESS ACADEMICALLY), but trying to use rote memorisation strategies don't work for me. Even years later, I can see entire pages of books and tell you what part of the page a certain piece of information is on.

--Acronyms and initialisms are often confusing. I'm dealing with gestational hypertension right now
and every time I write out BP, I have to double check that I did it correctly. More than have the time I write PB and honestly, it looks exactly the same to me.

Again, not the same for everyone, but some of those are things I didn't know was related to my dyslexia until I started seeing the same thing in my students.
posted by guster4lovers at 2:47 PM on May 30, 2018 [6 favorites]

When I was a kid, my mom had us do this exercise she'd read or heard about somewhere where she read us a paragraph from an encyclopedia and told us to simultaneously write our names with our non-dominant hand on a piece of paper on our foreheads. I got my name, sort of, but had little idea what she'd read to me. I believe this exercise was supposed to demonstrate being dyslexic in a classroom?
posted by aniola at 3:17 PM on May 30, 2018

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