Skip to main content

Just a bit slow

That's how I like to describe my dyslexic brain. I stole it from Zoe Wanamaker actually. In a talk I heard her give several years ago just after I discovered I was dyslexic she was talking about her own struggles with it and said something along the lines of everything works, just a bit slower. Now some dyslexics will recoil in horror at the notion of reverting back to the idea of us being 'a bit slow' as a catch all term for our 'learning difficulties' but I hate the latter term there and actually prefer the former, everything works it just takes a while and a different route to get there sometimes. Not always. Sometimes.

Zoe Wanamaker also said to me afterwards (I know, name dropping luvvy excuse me there is a point) not to think of myself AS dyslexic but as HAVING dyslexia. It's an important distinction because having it suggests a condition like any other medical or psychological condition that you are dealing with and finding ways to manage. Being dyslexic insinuates there is something either wrong or different about you that is a part of you. Again some will disagree, some will feel that dyslexia is so intrinsic to how they view and operate in the world then it is a 'am' not a 'having' but for me that's the 'label' I prefer.

In someways dyslexia is not unlike my shortsightedness-it affects me everyday, sometimes in a minimal way sometimes a larger way depending on what I'm doing. There's things to be done about it (wearing glasses or the way I study) but there's also nothing to be done about it, there's no 'cure' for either. As it happens as well both impact my chosen career quite extensively. Shortsightedness because the amount of time spent squinting at books and screens only worsens it, dyslexia because a career based on reading and writing only exacerbates it. They're also similar in that unless you've experienced either it's difficult to understand.

It's easy to dismiss dyslexia as just 'being bad a spelling' or 'bad at counting' but it's so much more than that-it's whole ways of thinking of learning things and no two dyslexics are the same. The frustrating thing being it's also incredibly difficult to explain. In some ways, to extend my shortsighted metaphor dyslexia to me is like being blind to something. I don't see a spelling error or a grammar error. I also completely skip over things I'm reading, I can not notice entire paragraphs until I realise I don't understand what I've read. For me personally with numbers it's like being almost completely blind, numbers mostly mean nothing not because I don't understand the concept of numbers but I can't work the written form of numbers therefore the formulas that make up how we deal with numbers. Which probably makes no sense. I never cried so much over school as a child as over learning times tables and I hold my hands up and admit now that there are some I still don't know. Some of you are probably horrified right now. Someone as educated as I am, someone who is qualified to teach others doesn't know (for example) her 12 times table. I don't, and perhaps that says more about how we approach education still than me.

With words I'm better, because I understand words, I'm lucky that I enjoyed reading from a young age and I was 'advanced' in some ways so the dyslexia didn't 'catch up' with me until later. That said I could never spell. Never ever spelling tests at school were like torture as much as times tables. By osmosis I learned to spell, by rote and repetition and reading. But if I don't 'know' a word I don't 'see' it and sometimes, even if I technically 'know' a word on reading it through I still don't 'see' it to correct it.

There are of course ways around all of these things. At 28 years old and still (God help me) in education I've comprised ways and means, some conscious some not for getting where I need to be. Actually some of this relates to last week's post in which I talked about a lack of 'natural talents' and learning things the hard way.

It's a really difficult thing for other people to understand. And I know it must be so frustrating for my supervisors and anyone else who sees my work to look at and not understand why I don't see all these errors, correct all these errors. Particulalry for English specialists who deal in so much detail with language. It probably looks like carelessness or even stupidity. And some of it probably is, I'm not blaming the dyslexia for everything. But the truth is maybe I haven't got there yet. The second reality is I rely on my friends and well my Mother to proof read everything I do, and there's only so often I can call in that favour. So sometimes it's me, just being a little bit slow. It'll take a while but it'll get there, and it just might take a different route to everyone else.

But, despite all of that there are studies that have shown the marvelously weird way my brain works and a number of fantastic advantages (in my opinion) that gives me are also caused by dyslexia, so in some ways I'm thankful that I have this.


Popular posts from this blog

Theatre Fangirls (here we go again)

There's some arguments that come around and you think 'really? we're still talking about this?' but also you're not really surprised.

So when it was annoucned Tom Hiddleston was teaming up with Kenneth Brannagh for a production of Hamlet, it was inevitable that the cries of  'Silly fangirls' began. Once again we're confronted with comments that girls 'Only want to see it because he's in it' and 'Aren't interested in the play'.

And because I am a woman, therefore incapable of thinking of him other than in terms of his he above with a cat looking cute.

But just like Mr H there is both petting a cat, reading a newspaper and looking brooding, I'd like to point out that it's entierly possible to be interested in more than one aspect of a thing at the same time. And secondly I say so what the audience is just there to look at his cheekbones?

I don't have a horse in this race. I think Hiddles is a damn good ac…

Why Elliott & Harper is the company I've been waiting for

I can never resist a good (bad) pun in a title. As the first production from Elliott & Harper opens its doors for previews tonight, it’s worth pausing to think what this new production company means and why indeed we need more like it. Something of a ‘power house’ company formed of Marianne Elliott and Chris Harper. Both coming from the National Theatre- as Director and Producer respectively- there’s a real understanding of both the craft of theatre and the audiences that do- and don’t- come to it there. And theatre made by and produced by theatre people, in the commercial realm. That’s potentially very exciting.

Firstly, the act of two theatre people who really love theatre, really understand theatre both from an audience point of view and an artistic point of view. Secondly, one of the UK’s best directors striking out on her own to make theatre on her own terms. Thirdly, and you bet it’s an important factor, a woman artistic director. It’s all exciting, and has the potential, …

Holding the Man (some thoughts, not a review)

This isn't a 'review' because I saw this too close to the end of the run, but some plays make you want to put pen to paper regardless. It's also not a review, as this is filled with the kind of personal anecdotal nonsense that people tell me doesn't belong in my blog.

Well screw that, this is my blog, and for this one I'm writing it how I'd like.

A little background. For anyone who doesn't know me, I wrote my PhD in what essentially translates to 'Plays about AIDS'. There's a far more sophisticated description. But for the purposes of today, that about covers it. For anyone who wants more of that nonsense, my side blog is here

I started my PhD in September 2010. In June 2010 (June 21st, I looked it up. Yes I keep a list) I saw 'Holding the Man' for the first time. I actually had no idea what it was about going in, I was actually just a bit obsessed with Simon Burke at the time so booked to see him (what of it?). And so by accident …