I was just on Twitter and discovered that it is Dyslexia Action Week, who knew there was an action week for it? Any way thought this would be a good excuse to share some links to items and coping strategies that make living with dyslexia easier for me. Hope they help you too.
Perhaps dyslexia didn’t exist in the 1970’s and 80s, no one I knew had heard of it. School started ok, nice big print nice fat letters. The once you got a bit older you were expected to go onto the harder books, thing was the fonts used changed. No more thick letters, now they were thin and had little sticky out bits on? It was like learning a new language all over again. The font of fashion back then was like Times New Roman and I’ve since found out the sticky out parts are called Serif’s.
I found reading VERY hard, the new letters looked strange, had halos around them and they moved! No one would believe me, teachers had lots of pupils in the class and I just had to struggle on as best I could. Bad handwriting, took ages to complete tasks as I spent half the time trying to work out what I was reading and the rest of the time trying to understand what was meant by it. I was keen to learn but low marks and humiliation at the hands of teachers back then taught me to keep my head down and just do my time at school.
My parents knew I was trying so they didn’t give me a hard time, and encouraged me. They took me to the optician, where I explained the halos round the letters, the bright likes off them, the fact that every time there was a space between words my eyes would fall down the gap and play pin ball rally with the rest of the spaces. They didn’t believe me, not just that but I was told in no uncertain terms that ‘You can’t possibly be seeing that’. I gave up at that point, did my best and gave up trying to get people to understand what I was seeing.
Secondary school was worse, reading aloud was painful as I would lose my place and be embarrassed, add to that sarcastic comments from teachers and once again, it was just a matter of do your time till you can leave.
Remembering things, or not.
Life was different when I left school, I found I could teach myself how to do things, in my own way.
I knew I wouldn’t remember if people told me how to do something and experience had shown if you ask them to repeat it frequently they get annoyed.
Coping strategy. Write it down! Simple as that, if I need to remember something I write it down. This includes all kinds of things, I have recipes for most things in my life :) That way someone tells me once and when I forget, I can look it up.
I spend days or more looking for stuff! If I put it down, I will forget where it is and then spend endless amounts of time looking for things.
My strategy is to have dedicated areas for things. Labelled or see through boxes for storage.
I have a mug on my desk for pens pencils rulers etc. If it’s not in my hand that’s where it goes, otherwise I’ll put something on top of it or leave it else where in the house and spend ages looking for it. I have a box on the desk too, anything I’ll need goes in there, note pads, stuff I need to file that kind of thing.
People think I’m OCD organized, I’m not but without a place for everything and being disciplined about things only going there, things quickly descend into time-consuming chaos. Inks live in a particular box, all things art related live in a box and they all live in a particular cupboard. I’ll remember which cupboard and the labelling narrows down the search from there ;) As the meerkat says ‘Simples’.
Reading and Writing
The first time I found out about dyslexia was from a colleague at work, we had just returned from a company eye test because computers were being introduced. Once again I had told the optician about the reading issues I had and once again they couldn’t believe me or give me a reason for it.
My colleague asked me how the eye test had gone, I said ok but they never believe me when I tell them what I see. When he asked me about it and I told him, he said ‘That’s Irlin’s, I’ve got that’. He explained about having different coloured paper for work and he was the only other person I knew who also wrote everything down. I left that job and lost contact and couldn’t spell Irlins to search online but DH asked about it in his opticians once and they suggested reading rulers. I searched that online and sure enough you could buy coloured overlays and they were said to help.
Found Crossbow education and ordered a multi coloured pack of overlays. OMG the overlays changed my life! As soon as I placed the orange overlay onto a page of text, the change was immediate. The text stopped moving, the flashing lights reduced and pinball rally down the spaces reduced too! I ordered a pack of the orange overlays and haven’t looked back since. I print out onto green paper, which is less contrast than the black text on white and that makes it easier to read as well.
Found that if I use green pens I can read back what I’ve written more easily. Try different coloured paper and pen combinations till you find one that works for you. Its cheap, simple and easy to try out at home.
Using coloured overlays on the screen is good too. Crossbow education have software which lets you open an on-screen reading ruler, which you can set to your own colour choice. It also has the option of having a nice black line which you can vary the position and size which helps you keep track of what line you are on.
Check these out on your computer, you can alter the background colours that boxes open on your screen, which makes a huge difference. I’ll borrow hubby and write a post soon for how to do that.
Life with dyslexia is like jogging with those strap on weights on your ankles. Not impossible, just time consuming and hard work. Thankfully now there is a lot more known about it and a lot more resources available. Here are a couple that I’ve found really useful.
- British Dyslexia Association
- Crossbow Education
- Coloured Overlays
- Virtual reading Ruler On screen version of reading rulers
I want to thank Crossbow Education for their excellent products, they really did change my life. Without their overlays I couldn’t see the words. Suddenly in my 30s letters began to make sence again. Not since I moved from the very young kids books had I made propper sence of words on a page.
There is an excellent project about a dyslexia font at Project Dyslexie I truely wish this could be made available for home users. If my computer would display in that and I could print in that, life would be much easier.
People are suprised by the amount of detail I go into when I write my tutorials, simple thing is that I make notes to that level for my own use because I’ll forget how I did a technique by the time I come to use it again. So it frequently only takes a short amount of extra work to tidy those notes up into a tutorial.
If you or someone you know is struggling try different colour papers, different coloured pens and get a set of coloured overlays. It could change their life!
Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon