When I was in school, I was never told that I’d still have dyslexia as an adult. By high school, my grades had picked up enough that the majority of my accommodations where taken away, and once senior year hit, I don’t think I was even getting extra time on tests.
|By Yinan Chen [Public Domain], via Good Free Photos|
Looking back now, the dip in grades and plummet in self esteem had a direct link to that poorly thought out action.
Anyway, dyslexia still has a profound effect on my life. I even dream about it from time to time.
Last night, I dreamt that I had decided to find a place to order pasta for delivery. When the delivery girl got to my house, I discovered I had no cash, so I thought I’d write a check.
She brought in the food, then stood impatiently over my shoulder as I tried writing the check. I completely mangled the date. So, I laughed nervously, voided the check and tried again.
No matter how many checks I tried filling out, the numbers and letters jumbled beyond recognition. After I’d made my way through one book of checks, I was shaking and apologizing profusely.
I opened the next book, and couldn’t read the layout. It was completely different. The paper color wasn’t right, the lines were all over the place, and the words made no sense.
In a panic, I ripped my way through that one, then through another and finally, through the last one.
How was I going to pay for my food? Why couldn’t I make sense of something as simple as a check? I don’t know how many I’ve filled out before to pay bills, so why couldn’t I fill this one out? Oh, god, why didn’t I just pay with a credit card online?
When I finally woke up, I was exhausted. I also felt a little foolish on behalf of my dream-self. How could I get so worked up over something as small as paying for a delivery? Talk about silly.
I hate those dreams.
Other than a desperate need for coffee throughout the next day, they give me an unwelcome reminder of the traumatic side of being dyslexic. My inability to remember the three digit combinations for school lockers, numbers for assorted jobs, the constant punishments for getting letter or word sequences wrong and people getting angry at me for other lapses all come rushing back. I end up feeling like the lowest of the low.
In reality, I’m sure those types of dreams are just my brain trying to prepare me for future difficulties. On a broader level, it’s a reminder that no, dyslexia doesn’t go away with puberty.
It’s with us for life, and adults who didn’t get the support they needed as children need it now. Even those of us who did get help early on still need some sort of understanding.
A huge part of growing up with any sort of “special need” is learning how to accept our unique natures and how to live with them. Ideally, we should be encouraged to find the gifts our perceived disabilities give us, and determine how to use them to better our world.
Even after we get a handle on how our minds work, we still have to deal with the abuse dealt to us in the past, and the ongoing ablism inherent in our culture. Many of us need to address people who refuse to believe we’re different, because they can’t let go of closely held stigmas.
We need to grapple with the question of whether or not to disclose our disability on job applications. If we don’t, we risk losing the job later, but if we do, we might not get an interview in the first place.
If we go to college, we still need to decide upon whether or not to disclose. Some disability departments are great, but others only make life more difficult.
The biggest problem isn’t our wiring. The biggest problem is ignorance, and the poor behavior it brings out in other people.