“Being identified as dyslexic is not something I ever wanted. But not being identified, not knowing, not getting help–that was worse.” ~Lost and Found Books
A year ago, something unexpected happened.
I found out why I love books but not reading them.
The cause of my lifelong struggle to read was identified as a very common learning disability called dyslexia.
Many wonderful things have happened since then. Namely: I learned that it’s never too late to live a better life.
In the past year, I’ve:
- learned techniques to read and write more efficiently at home and at work; essentially I am retraining or rewiring my brain
- found tools to improve spelling, grammar and map out my thoughts and ideas
- improved the quality of my work as a web writer by applying best practices for dyslexic readers that will help all online readers
- stopped worrying so much about reading, and started to read one word, one page, one chapter at time–rather than staring at a big block of text and freaking out! (reading anxiety, I’ve learned, is a huge problem for dyslexics)
- met “my tribe”, an amazing group of parents, students and educators around the world who are working to make positive change in the lives of children with dyslexia
- learned about the benefits that come with dyslexia and how our brains compensate (such as creativity, problem solving skills, big picture thinking, and even higher than average intelligence for some)
- attended the first dyslexia conference in Canada
- volunteered to help build the first dyslexic advocacy/support group in my community
- started a new blog dyslexiclibrary.com with my daughter, where we share useful information for other dyslexics and those who love them–one of our main goals is to dispel the myth that dyslexics can’t read
- acted on my lifetime dream to write stories and poetry by taking an online course at the Writer’s Studio, which was founded by Pulitzer Prize wining poet (and dyslexic) Philip Schultz–I produced 10 original (and fairly readable) pieces in 10 weeks
Being identified as dyslexic is not something I ever wanted. But not being identified, not knowing, not getting help–that was worse.
Early diagnosis and intervention is essential in helping children overcome dyslexia (there is no cure, but with help our brains can adapt). I’ve seen it with my own daughter.
And yet…kids today are still dealing with the same challenges that I did 40 years ago: lack of support and awareness at school, work and in society, feelings of shame and low self-esteem, anxiety, failure, failure and more failure. In particular, my home country, Canada, seems farther behind than many other countries.
Dyslexia is one of the main causes of illiteracy — affecting one in five — yet it is the problem that no one wants to name. It is largely misunderstood and ignored by the literacy community and by our schools. Some deny that it exists.
The result? Children from families with access to resources and private services can get help once the problem is identified. Children who are not identified, and those from lower income families, fall through the cracks. Without help, they will continue to struggle and fail in all areas of their education, and are at higher risk of dropping out early (this may account for the 1 in 2 adults with dyslexia in US prisons, and similar numbers here in Canada and around the world).
But there is hope. The community is coming out of the closet (so to speak!) and coming together to make positive change for all children and adults.
Can you help us?
- Learn more about dyslexia and create awareness. Start by reading this series by National Public Radio and this letter to our Premier by Decoding Dyslexia Ontario
- Sign the petition calling for the early identification and intervention of children with dyslexia
- Read and share my blog dyslexiclibrary.com
To all my friends who love to read, to those who don’t, and to those who are learning, Happy New Year and happy reading.