New York Times: The Upside of Dyslexia

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Summary: has a recent article on some surprising upsides to dyslexia. Some took offense. I'm relatively ok with it, since most of it seems to be true to me.

BLOT: (13 Feb 2012 - 10:45:35 PM)

New York Times: The Upside of Dyslexia

I am mildly dyslexic. When I am tired and stressed especially. I occasionally stutter, and what is weird is that I "stutter" entire phrases [will repeat a phrase two or three times, though have caught myself doing it at least five or six or seven] though I also more traditionally stutter. I infamously say words out of order (or in completely wrong structuring), something I think my friends forgive or assume that I am just being frou-frou-y with words. When I write, I'll start writing in the middle of words, or in the middle of sentences, and have to go back and forth [I have taught myself to double-check what I am writing as I write it, which helps unless I get too hasty]. My handwriting changes from word to word. My pronunciation changes from one instance of saying a word to the next. At the worst moments, I can visualize thoughts but will take half a minute, or more, to think of what words have anything to do with them. Sometimes when words are close in pronunciation, or meaning, I will freeze because I cannot find any path in my head to distinguish [in school, a teacher once made fun of me for being unable to decide whether "expect" or "except" was the right word, but at the time, my brain could find no difference in the two]. And, the part I am most personally bothered by, I have extreme trouble looking at too many separate symbols at once.

If you put more than three or four zeros in a number, I have to count them individually. If you make a math equation with lots of exponents and parentheses and such, I have to rewrite it once or twice in order to see how it all fits. With words, I can chunk things really damned well (occasionally leading to complete misunderstandings), but when you put things outside of the context of chunking, like short little instructional phrases only half related or shopping lists, I have trouble.

I know I also read faster than average, have a higher than average chunking ability, have a higher than average retention rate, can analyze structure faster than the average bear, am generally considered eloquent in speech patterns and writing, and overall would be the last person anyone would assume had a, albeit mild as long as I am rested and relaxed, learning issue. It can be annoying when I cannot remember specific dates or times without complex learning methods, but I find it be kind of cool how you can toss concepts at me and I can synthesize and analyze them in speed. I think in terms of concepts, almost purely, which is an issue when I cannot always link concept to object but enables me to approach certain fields with aplomb. Like reference work, where my brain's general ability to remember the shape of information over specific information means I can navigate search fields and results with great speed and across many disciplines. It's all just a geometry of definition. It's the specific definitions that I have to go back and sort through.

When the New York Times released its The Upside of Dyslexia, I agreed with it overall. I do often see the periphery better than average. My brain does tend to prefer to the forest to the trees. However, I understand why some people felt the need to write in and complain. I'm a mild case with seems to have more overall benefit that drawback. If it was a few steps harder, and I had to go back and quadruple check everything I wrote, if I stuttered more constantly, or if I was unable to chunk quite so well so that I had read each word a couple of times to make sure I got it right: it would have been a terrifying impediment. I also wonder, maybe there are two different things at play. Maybe people like me have trouble with some aspects of reading/writing because we think in an odd way. Like, our way of thinking leads to our other problems. And then maybe some people have [eyesight, meaning-to-memory issues] problems that lead to a way of thinking.

I have no real issue if I just slow down and vet everything first, but my inclination is not to do that. It almost hurts to slow down and to take things in individually, especially since I'm just going to dump all the little bits and aim for the whole when I am done. I'm often thinking of my next sentence while saying the current one aloud [a condition that often leads me to just trail off into silence when I get two or three sentences ahead and it gets jumbled]. Not sure. The human brain is weird and it is a bit too convenient to shunt some behavior patterns to the side as abnormal just because it doesn't win the plurality.

Me Being an Odd Duck


Written by Doug Bolden

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