The TRUTH About What Dyslexia Really Is

Diagnosing My Husband with Dyslexia

When I met my husband, I knew there was something different about him.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but he was a bit goofy in social interactions and much kinder and more sensitive then other men I’d met.  I wouldn’t have pegged him as being Dyslexic though, since he was very good at hiding any difficulties he had.

A few months into dating though, I began to see that something was wrong.  He had an amazing memory and could recall obscure songs or events at a moment’s notice, but he couldn’t recall basic facts about his life to complete a form at the doctor’s office or job application.  Forms confused him and jumbled his ability to recall these facts.  He could verbally recite needed details, but completing these forms himself took a significant amount of time and focus on his part and I often had to help him in completing them.

This was just the first of many signs that I would begin to notice (see detailed list below).  A possible Dyslexia diagnosis was on my mind, since I grew up with my sister who also had Dyslexia and there were many similarities in their experiences and symptoms, but I needed to learn more.

After several years of prodding and doing research online into Dyslexia, I convinced my husband to seek a diagnosis.  This is something my husband dreaded.  He hated feeling stupid, useless and feared the “R” word more than anything, but ultimately, he wanted to go to college.

You see, my husband has struggled all his life with teachers explaining away his unique needs as being laziness, in large part, due to stereotypes about brown boys and men in general.  He has tried again and again to get help, but what he really needed was proof that he deserved special help.  That’s what lead us to a diagnosis center…his dreams of becoming a college graduate.

What Dyslexia Really Is

A lot of people believe that Dyslexia is about reading backwards, but in fact this is only a very small part of Dyslexia and not the case for all Dyslexics.  That’s not to say that some Dyslexics don’t read backwards, in fact, some do.  But many do not.  For my husband, reading is a challenge, as it is with most Dyslexics, but it’s more a case of disappearing letters and words or letters and words popping up in the wrong places.

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What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disability and it’s also a processing disorder, similar to that of children with Aspergers or Autism, although much less severe.  What does that mean?  Well, it means that individuals with Dyslexia often recognize and interpret information taken in through the senses (especially sight and sound) very differently than most of us.

To help you understand what I mean by this, I’ve written up a detailed list of 25 things that make my husband’s experience unique.  These are 25 things that I think many Dyslexics can relate to, although I know that Dyslexia exists on a spectrum (much like Autism) and it is different for everyone.

processing disorders dyslexia dyspraxia
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25 Specific Signs of Dyslexia

1. Confused and overwhelmed by written tests and forms; has test anxiety.

2. Suffered abuse in school because he didn’t “catch on”; low self-esteem and angry feelings towards education.  As a child he was known as the class clown or trouble-maker; often a distraction to others.  Wasn’t diagnosed with a learning disability until the age of 33.

3. Zones out or daydreams during conversations or lectures; easily distracted by sounds or “shiny things”.

4. Doesn’t recognize social cues, body language or facial expressions; interrupts or rambles.

5. Has to have background noise at all times, even when sleeping; TVs, radios, fans.

6. Often loses things or puts things in strange places.  At times, can’t remember which cupboard cups go in or which drawer pjs or socks should be in, even though they are consistently put in the same places.

7. Drops letters and words when reading and speaking; loses place while reading, skips lines, reads words in reverse order or reads syllables that aren’t there.

8. Uses words that don’t make sense in the sentence; forgets how to pronounce words he once knew; spells phonetically, inconsistently.  The spelling seems to come and go.

9. Hears things that weren’t said or thinks he already said things that he didn’t; incomplete, broken sentences or unfinished thoughts.

10. Poor handwriting, uncomfortable pen grip; poor grammar and punctuation.

11. Confuses left/right hands and directions like North, South, East and West.

12. Unable to keep rhythm with music when clapping or singing; cannot remember lyrics even to his favorite songs.

13. Trouble telling time; reading an analog clock, remembering numbers, dates, appointments; difficulty reading a map or following written directions.  Verbal explanations are needed.

14. Poor time management; difficulty planning and organizing; needs to be given orders/directions to complete tasks.

15. Uses finger counting and memory tricks for math; confused by formulas; can’t show work on paper; difficulty with comprehension of word problems.

16. Extremely talented in drama, art, music, story-telling, public speaking, poetry, hands-on projects.  These things come very easily to him.

17. Learns best through hands-on experiences or visual aids.

18. Speaks with hands and over dramatized facial expressions.

19. Difficulty comprehending when reading or focusing when writing and talking; often forgets what point he was trying to make.

20. Seems uncoordinated or confused in sports or mechanical tasks.

21. Very vivid and detailed memory for past events, experiences, places, faces (but not names); he often forgets the names of people that we have known for several years, if he doesn’t see them almost daily.

22. Extremely disorderly; forgetful of daily tasks or responsibilities.

23. Very deep sleeper.  Needs more sleep than most and often wakes in a bad mood.  Used to wake aggressively with fists raised.  Still has difficult waking normally.

24. Unusually low tolerance for pain, high sensitivity to light.

25. Very social and emotionally sensitive; seems to need more attention than most; also puts a lot of importance on helping others and making others feel comfortable.

Does any of this sound familiar?  What are some examples of Dyslexia that you’ve experienced?

Read more about my husband’s journey with Dyslexia.

This post was first published in April 2012.

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South Texas Foodie, Traveler, Photographer, and Designer.