I spent the majority of the day today running errands. One of those errands was a yearly physical. I don’t go to the doctor’s office very often, so I overestimated how long it would take me to get there. Since I had hit the library before heading there, I figured I’d just sit in the waiting area and read.
Generally, I do most of my reading in the living room, when the house is quiet and there’s no one else around. Unless I’m tired, or have a lot on my mind, my dyslexia isn’t that bad.
Today, however, I found myself having an incredibly difficult time computing anything on the page. It wasn’t all that loud, either.
There was canned music coming from the speakers, staff occasionally saying hi to each other and another patient waiting for her appointment. I was again stricken at how hard it is to tune background noise out, and how much it impacted how I see letters.
As I sat there, struggling to comprehend something I would otherwise understand easily, I wondered how anyone could concentrate on something like reading a book when their attention was constantly being tugged at by background noise.
Then, once again, it dawned that my brain just doesn’t work in the same way that most peoples’ do. It’s a very lonely feeling, when I stop to think about it. Something as fundamental as tuning out background noise is something that few really appreciate.
It’s a like breathing. The majority of the time, you don’t realize you’re doing it, but when you get sick, you can think of little else. You can’t sleep. You can’t focus on anything but the struggle to get precious oxygen into your blood stream.
Granted, filtering background noise or other sensory issues out in and of itself won’t kill you, but it has the same effect on the mind. You can’t concentrate on anything else. When it comes to dyslexics, that manifests in the disability part of the neurology coming out to play.
This is why quiet is so essential in testing situations. This is also why people without the issues should respect the accommodations dyslexics and others need in school.
I wish more people would pause and think about how hard it can be to struggle with this type of problem.