In addition to the NaBloPoMo event put on by BlogHer that I’m taking part in this month, I’ll be taking part in Topic Tuesdays set by the ever awesome Spectrum Bloggers Network I’m fortunate to be a part of. Their topic for the week is “Spectrum”.
|Neato. A reason to use this double rainbow pic.|
This is something I’ve given a fair amount of thought to since starting this blog. I was first introduced to the idea when I began studying autism. The sheer range of symptoms and levels of severity is mind boggling, as are the gifts folks on that particular spectrum have to give the world.
The more I studied dyslexia, the more I saw a similar phenomenon. Dyslexia seems to range from having enough difficulty in early education to warrant extra help to a continued inability to read in adulthood. There are quite a few symptoms that show up in many dyslexics, but not others, like right/left difficulties, issues with reading clocks and problems with following procedures.
I’ve noticed a disturbing undercurrent of anger in some corners of the internet regarding this.
I’ve seen some highly accommodated dyslexics tear into other dyslexics who still struggle with eye-reading. Those posts are usually made up of bitter comments like, “I’m dyslexic, and I read just fine, so don’t you DARE blame your dyslexia for not reading.”
For one, the accomplished reader may not remember being at that point in their development. For another thing, all they know about the one who’s struggling is what that person tells them. The strain of reading may very well cause them physical pain after a while.
If reading by eye gives them a headache, I don’t blame them for avoiding it. There’s no reason whatsoever to beat up on someone for sharing their experiences.
On the other end of the spectrum, I’m seen people who still struggle to read accusing those who can read with relative ease of not having dyslexia at all. They either imply or state right out that the person who reads more easily is just looking for sympathy or attention.
For many dyslexics, getting to a point where they can read fluently is a huge accomplishment. That doesn’t mean they don’t have dyslexia anymore, and that doesn’t mean they don’t still struggle from time to time.
I personally find these squabbles irritating and tend not to pay much attention to them. If someone feels the need to attack me personally, I refuse to engage them. I’m not here to bicker.
I do like to add another layer to the question of spectrum when it comes to dyslexia, though. Like with most lifelong traits, there’s also a spectrum of coping skills.
If you were diagnosed as a child, you’ll be in a different place than if you got to college or beyond without being identified as dyslexic.
If you’re at the point where everyone around you can read, including other dyslexics, but you’re still learning techniques that are best for you, your frustration is understandable. When someone confronts you with impatience or malicious intent regarding the skill you may be trying very hard to master, it’s natural to be hurt and angry.
Likewise, if you’ve worked hard for years to get to the point of reading fluently, it’s frustrating to be faced with someone who accuses you of lying about your neurology for attention.
I think this probably boils down to a combination of personal experience, emotional maturity and the fact we’re socially conditioned to have a sort of “all or nothing” point of view.
We can’t change our past experiences, but there are ways to better manage our emotional states. I think we also need to get rid of the restriction of all or nothing idea. If you were correctly diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, you’ll still have it as an adult. Your skill sets will change, but dyslexia will always be with you.
That goes for folks with autism, nonverbal learning disabilities and any other label groups are given.
Maybe I’m a bit of an idealist, but I think having a better idea about the spectrum principle and exercising more kindness for others would go a long way to making a the world a better place.